Website Keywords and How to Pick Them

Google Keywords

It might go without saying, but the cardinal component of capturing a web surfer’s attention and converting them to a customer is closely linked to the selection and implementation of quality keywords. The selection of keywords for your website can take many forms and there are several strategies to making the right choice to drive traffic to your site.

First of all, let’s start with the most basic step: Brainstorming. What could your potential site visitors be thinking that would lead them to your home page or product pages? A website administrator should seek a thorough understanding of their visitors’ needs – and whether they are able to facilitate those needs – before embarking on keyword research.

For example, if you have a website advertising your Italian restaurant in Camden, you might research the terms ‘Camden restaurants’, ‘Italian restaurant Camden’ or ‘Camden dining’, amongst others. Research would be different for those websites offering online sales or services as the needs of the clientele would vary from those seeking a bite to eat in North London. Products with a global appeal, such as clothing and software, would likely omit any place marker and instead focus on how to let browsers find them in such competitive markets.

There are two schools of thought on the matter of attracting search engines’ and web browsers’ attentions when it comes to keyword selection: Going for the ‘short tail’ or the ‘long tail’ approach, with each method having proponents and detractors.

First, after you’ve gathered a number of keyword and key phrase possibilities from your brainstorming session, you’ll want to input them to one of a number of free online services that show you the most commonly searched phrases matching yours, such as Google AdWords or Wordtracker. It’s here where most businesses can decide which strategy they’d like to go for, long or short.

The short tail puts a website right in the fray for the attention from search engines for widely used, generally more vague search terms, like ‘UK holidays’ or something similar. There will most likely be plenty of other companies hoping to rank for these general terms and it can be especially difficult for websites reselling other brands, like sporting equipment or computer sales, as an established brand’s website will likely have dominance over the search results.

Carrying on from our ‘UK holidays’ example, a search of Google AdWords shows that the search term has 550,000 monthly searches, inclusive of 450,000 local searches – the largest of any related phrase – with a medium level of competition from other websites [at the time of writing]. Those up for going head-to-head with a number of competing firms – and employing strategic SEO tactics such as virtual theming – could then try staking their claim for a piece of the search results pie.

However, a second, more specified method also exists in hunting out longer tail searches, or those with more specific demands from the web browser. For example, while UK holidays commands a weighty half-million monthly searches, a more specific term like ‘cheap UK holidays’ has just over 27,000. But before a travel company rushes to cater to this search term, they should see it’s one of the most fought-over web searches according to Google.

Meanwhile, another search term with a similar number of web queries per month, ‘UK holidays 2011’, has yet to see the competition rise for searches, meaning it may be easier, with the proper SEO tactics, to get a foot in the door for placement on an ideal results page. Going for long tail results can be appealing in this regard – especially for firms with a local base of operations to include in on searches. In addition, while many users chase ‘UK holidays’, just as many, if not more, scour the internet for the more-specific related keywords.

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