If you’re having a new website designed for your small business then before you write the copy, you should carry out keyword research to identify what words and phrases you want your site to rank for online.
The 10 tips below look at keyword research from an SEO point of view, keyword research for Pay per Click advertising will be looked at in a separate article.
- Think from your target market’s point of view
When you are beginning the keyword research process, it’s a good idea to start by thinking from a potential customer’s perspective and ask yourself what keywords and phrases they would search for online when looking for what you provide. Ask someone else to do the same if you can, and write down a comprehensive list that you can use for tip #2 below.
- Look at your competitors
It’s also helpful to identify your main online competitors and do searches to find out what keywords and phrases they are targeting as this will give you a good indication of their strategy. There are a number of online tools which automate this process such as Keyword Spy.
- Use local terms
When compiling your list of keywords and phrases to target don’t forget to add a local qualifier to your terms. For example, if you’re an Estate Agent who serves Edinburgh only, then you should add Edinburgh to the phrases you’re targeting in order to get more relevant traffic to your site and also give your site less competition and a better chance of being found in the search engine results.
- Use a free keyword research tool
Once you have your keyword list you should use a free keyword research tool such as Google’s own, Wordtracker or WordStream to get an idea of how many people are searching online for the terms you’ve identified.
- Be realistic
As a small business you need to be realistic about your aims and your budget when deciding on your keyword strategy. For example, if you’re an independent mortgage advisor you won’t be able to compete with all the major lenders for the keyword “mortgages” as they have full time SEO staff and a much bigger budget than you.
- Target long tail keyphrases
Long tail keyphrases are those that are not always obvious, don’t get huge volumes of searches but can be very profitable for small businesses to target.
For example, if you’re a Locksmith in London you may find it easier to rank higher for “emergency 24 hour locksmith Finchley” rather than “Locksmith London” which has higher search volumes but also more people competing to be ranked for it.
- Don’t choose too many keywords for each page
Relevance is critical when it comes to choosing keywords for your website. If your homepage is about Estate Agency services in Edinburgh for example, then you should choose no more than a handful of keywords or phrases for that page. If your other web pages are about a specific service such as Home Reports then these should have their own group of relevant keywords and phrases too.
If you try to optimise your homepage for too many keywords or phrases you will dilute the effect and more than likely confuse visitors to your site.
- Use an analytics tool
If you already have a website and it’s been around for a while you can use an analytics tool to help you pinpoint what keywords and phrases people are entering to find your site.
Once you’ve implemented your keyword strategy you can also use an analytics tool such as Google Analytics (which is free) to monitor how well your approach is faring and to identify areas that may need reviewed.
- Where to use your chosen keywords
Once you’ve got a definitive keyword list for all the pages on your website, the next step is knowing where to use them. Meta titles, meta descriptions, header tags, internal links and of course the main copy itself should all include your main keywords and phrases where possible in order to play their part in the overall SEO process.
- Don’t stand still
As we hinted at in tip #8 your keyword selection process should be ongoing and not just a one-off.
There are many good reasons to do this including; keeping up to date with your competitors, identifying new keyword opportunities and so you can channel your resources into your best converting keywords; all of which can be done via a good analytics programme.