I always think that keyword research is probably the most important element of any SEO project. You might think that you could point to other areas that are just as critical, but my feeling has always been that SEO is never truly successful unless the keyword research is carried out correctly.
It’s one area that I hate to rush. I know that some prefer to skip over keyword research, believing that it’s simple and that the real priority is the link-building stage of a project. But this under-estimates the power of selecting the right targets. It also ignores the potential disasters that await if you get things wrong.
If you’re in the middle of an SEO project right now, then you might like to think back to how you selected your target keywords. What sort of keyword research did you carry out, if any?
You may have simply thought of the phrases that you would type in to Google if you were searching for your products or services. This may seem like an obvious approach to take.
Unfortunately, it’s an approach that makes use of very little objective information. You probably know your products better than anyone else, which means that your own experience would have an impact here. It’s worth remembering that we all use search engines slightly differently too.
Google Keywords Tool
That’s why it’s always worth checking (using the Google Keywords Tool, for instance) on how many people search using a particular phrase. If you don’t check in advance, you may find that you’re targeting a phrase that few other people use. If this is the case, you’ll struggle to get the impact that you would like from your search engine optimization plans.
But finding out how many people are searching for a particular phrase is only the beginning. You also need to be thinking about the chances of those searchers becoming customers. This means considering a number of factors, including how closely the keyword matches what you have to offer.
You also need to think about the psychology of the searcher. This may be difficult in some cases!
Think about a search term and consider why it might be used. Is this a term that’s being used by people who are about to make a purchase? If so, this may be a phrase that’s worth adding to your list of targets. Beware of phrases that are associated with people carrying out research, or simply browsing. Although these may results in sales at a later stage, you need to ask whether they are likely to provide you with a level of income that would justify your SEO investment.
Have you thought about your competitors too?
Have a clear idea of the strength of competition
This will have a significant impact on the budget and timescales that will be associated with your SEO project. We all have to deal with some level of competition, but it’s clear that we’re in a better position if we can identify less competitive niches.
As you’ve been reading through the above information, you may have realised that you are targeting the wrong keywords. If you didn’t carry out a comprehensive keyword research stage at the outset, there’s clearly a danger of this being the case.