How to Choose your Keywords

by Tim Hill (aka Doodled)

January 4th 2013
A keyword is only worth chasing if it delivers something but how can you tell?
A keyword is only worth chasing if it delivers something but how can you tell?

Just because a keyword or phrase is searched regularly on Google does not mean it is worth chasing.

There is a misconception that high end keywords (words or phrases searched in large volumes every month) are the most desireable but it's not always the case.

And many people spend thousands of dollars or hours optimizing a website so that it ranks for one of these keywords only to find it does little good. So what's going on?

[Note: This step by step guide is for those who already have a website and are trying to improve its' rankings.]

1. Checking search volumes

The first step is to make sure internet users actually search the keyword you are considering. You may well have carried out this already. If not check the monthly volumes in the Google Keyword Tool.

2. Checking for competition

The keyword tool will also tell you if the PPC competition for a keyword is 'High', 'Medium' or 'Low'. If people are spending large sums on PPC you can assume they are spending even more trying to rank organically and so you may want to consider if you have the budget to take them on.

As part of this research carry out a search in Google for the keyword and look at who is ranking at the moment. If they are large well established websites or companies then budging them is going to be expensive in either cost or time so once again think about the size of your business and if it has the budget to take on those companies that already have their rankings.

3. Low search volumes

Just because a keyword has a low volume of searches every month this isn't a reason to toss it aside. Some websites gain the majority of their traffic because they rank for hundreds or thousands of low volume keywords which, cumalitively, are of far more value than battling for one high volume cuplrit.

It's also worth checking Google Insights to see if the keyword is trending in any particular direction. Words and phrases that are trending up are prime candidates for your attention - get a good ranking now before everyone else piles in!

4. Is it a good keyword?

Finally once you have decided that a keyword has a reasonable volume of searches and that you have the budget to try and rank for it you should stop for a moment.

The question is, "If I rank for this keyword will it do me any good?". Think what it is that you want your visitor to do after they arrive at your site. Do you want them to buy a product, subscribe to a service, sign up to a newsletter?

Whatever it is you need to find out if the keyword in question actually delivers that kind of traffic.

So before spending hours of your own time or hiring an SEO company you need to spend a little on advertising to be sure the keyword is worth your investment.

For this you'll need a Google Adwords account and a Google Analytics account and you'll need to tie the two together. There are plenty of tutorials out there explaining "how to link your Adwords and Analytics accounts" so make sure these are set up.

Your Analytics account should have the intended goal set up. This could be "if the user reaches this page" or "if the user buys a product".

From there you can then see, for any keyword in your PPC account, if the visitors generated by PPC actually do what you want them to do.

5. The keyword or the site

Now let's say you do all of this and the visitors do not convert. You're left with two options:

  1. Users who search that term just don't convert so do not waste time or money optimizing for it.
  2. There is something wrong with the website that makes visitors not convert.

For the second option, if your users don't generally convert then your website could well be the guilty party. If they do then the keyword is not work optimizing for. Chances are it is no more than a trophy term that many others who have not done their homework chase after.

Need Help

If you need assistance setting up your Google Adwords and Google Analytics accounts so that they work together in the process described above get in touch and I can quote you for the work.