Kalena Jordan's Blog

Reader Rescue: How do I choose what keywords to target?

Hi Kalena

I have two questions.

1) How do I know if a keyword merits my time and energy? For example, when I use Google’s Keyword tool, it says “debt settlement facts” has “not enough data” in the local search volume , when I input in “debt settlement texas,” I get 1,600 searches. Is this tool accurate to estimate the potential traffic to keywords ?

2) How do I know which keywords my competitors are using ? What I did was check each competitors site maps and looked at individual pages to see what they were targeting.



Hi William

1) It sounds like you’re using Google’s PPC Keyword Tool, which is helpful for choosing which keywords to target using pay per click advertising, but I’ve found it not so helpful for SEO campaigns. I would use other KW research tools such as Keyword Discovery, Word Tracker and iSpionage to get a better idea what people are typing in as search queries. All KW tools should be used with a grain of salt in terms of search data anyway – they can give you a general idea based on traffic figures, but trial and error is really your best bet when targeting keywords for your site.

2) Yes, looking at your competitor’s pages to see what keywords they are targeting is a very good idea. You can also view the source code for their pages to see what keywords their Title, META Description and META Keyword tags contain.



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About the author


Kalena Jordan

Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College — an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in search engine optimization and other search engine marketing subjects.


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  • I just bookmarked this. Written by someone clearly in the know, the information comes from the user’s point view which I found to be incredibly useful. In a day when anyone can publish just about anything, it’s encouraging to see that experts are still out there, and are willing to share their experience and knowledge. Debt Settlement

  • Hi Kalena…I became tremendously frustrated with this whole “keyword research” concept to. The process only involves two steps:
    (1) Find popular long tail keywords sometimes refered to as key phrases ie. with local search counts greater than 1000

    (2) Find phrases where the competition is less than 50,000. Competition is the exact phrase phrase count. Find this by placing quotations at the beginning and end of the phrase when doing a Google search

    At one time I spent a lot of time using the free Google Keyword Tools, which are excellent.

    The frustration I had was the amount of time it took to undertake the process. It just was not automated enough for me.

    I finally bit the bullet and purchased an automated system. It freed up a lot of time and basically took the guesswork out searching for popular long tail – low competition keywords.

    Before I start any campaign, I generate a list of 20 good keywords and try to incorporate them in all of my marketing activities.

    If you want to take a peek at the one I use, click on my URL. I will provide you with a Free Traffic Report and a link to the keyword research tool site.

    Email me if you have any questions.

    Good Luck!

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