August 23, 2012
Keyword research is one of the cornerstones of building an SEO campaign. The keywords you target on your site will determine what kind of searches your site gets pulled into the SERPs for, and what kind of visitor will ultimately find your site. New websites doing their keyword research for the first time don’t have the luxury of analytics to help guide their keyword selection process, so they have to start from scratch and use their best judgment.
Here are 5 keyword research tips for new websites to help ensure they get off on the right foot.
1. Don’t Let Search Volume Dictate Your Keyword Selection
A keyword like “software” gets almost 25 million searches a month in the US alone. There is no denying the powerful potential of what ranking #1 for “software” could mean to a company, but new sites owners need to remember two very important things about search volume. First off, the higher the search volume the more competition there will be for that keyword. Your new website is going against big brands that have been online and doing SEO for a lot longer than you. The odds of your website jumping to the top of the SERPs for such a broad keyword anytime soon are slim to nil.
Secondly, just because a keyword has a high search volume that doesn’t mean it should be your priority keyword. What kind of software do you sell? Is it computer software? Accounting software? Are you offering software training classes? Do you create custom business software? Yes, you may sell software, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100% on point with your business. Computer software gets a measly 550,000 searches a month, but the searchers are a much better customer for your site because they want exactly what you have to offer.
2. Go After the Long-Tail But Plan for the Broader Terms
Part of having a successful SEO campaign is building trust with the search engines. Unfortunately, the age of your site plays a big role in that trust factor and new sites just don’t have it. To work around this, new websites should be sure to incorporate long-tail keywords (“computer software engineering classes for beginners”) into their content. These long-tail keywords may have a much lower search volume, but that also means there is less competition and a more targeted searcher who is closer to converting. By targeting these long-tail keywords you will help your site survive long enough to build that trust so you can start to go after some broader keywords down the road and do well.
3. Choose Keywords on a Page by Page Basis
It’s so important that you target completely unique keywords on each page of your website based on the content of that page. For instance, your homepage might target “computer software engineering classes,” but you should target “java programming for beginners” on the page about Java programming, not the homepage which focuses on general courses. The content on your site is what is going to back up your keyword selection and help that page do well in the search engines. If you try to put a keyword on a page where it isn’t the main focus of the content you’ll never do as well for that keyword as you would like. Best practice dictates that you can target 2-5 keywords per page on your site, so make sure you’re sticking with the most relevant options!
4. Remember to Factor User Intent into Your Selection Process
When someone searches for “apple” are they looking for information about the fruit or do they need a new computer? User intent determines what someone means. Different keywords can be used to search for the same thing, while the same keywords can be used to search for different things. It’s very important that you keep user intent in mind when choosing your keywords because that will determine the kind of visitor that comes to your website. Having more visitors is great, having targeted visitors is better.
5. Your Keywords Aren’t Set in Stone
There is no rule that your first round of keywords have to be your last and only keywords! I’ve been in the SEO industry for nearly 13 years and in that time the language of the industry has evolved. Certain terms which are now commonplace, like “inbound marketing” didn’t even exist when I started in this industry. Social media marketing and any keyword related to it only popped up in the last few years as the technology developed. My point is that as your industry evolves the lexicon is going to change with it. You have to be willing to work those new keywords into your website and SEO program or you risk becoming outdated and getting left behind.
Search behavior also changes with time. How people search for things online today is no guarantee of how they will be searching five years from now. If you don’t adapt your keywords to reflect user behavior, then your site will get lost in the shuffle.
These are just a few of the things that new website owners need to keep in mind when conducting their keyword research and keyword selection process. Remember, the keywords you target will shape the scope of your SEO campaign and impact the kind of people that find your site. Even though you can always reoptimize your website for new keywords, it better to get your site off on the right foot from the get-go!
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Massachusetts SEO company Brick Marketing. With nearly 13 years of experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his SEO knowledge by writing for the Brick Marketing Blog, hosting all-day SEO workshops and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 150,000 opt-in subscribers. Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-999-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org