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Finding killer keywords for successful SEO

Monday, 13 June 2011 19:31 Written by  John
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This is part of a series of articles we’ll be running into search engine optimisation. This part looks at how to find killer keywords that will give you a real chance of topping the search engines. Follow the blog by clicking on the RSS feed at the top of the page to keep up to date with all the SEO blog posts.

Any search engine optimisation project must start with understanding what search terms you want to be found for in the search engines. Without a thorough understanding of what your potential customers are searching for you don’t know what to optimise your website around. Good keywords – although please be aware that by keyword we normally mean a key phrase – should be the bedrock of any SEO project.

What you’re looking for are keywords that a potential customer will put into the search engines when they are actively looking for your product or service. By being more specific and adding in geographic or other unique keywords you can start to focus on prospects that are actively in the sales cycle. Take for example the keywords we look for as a web design company:

The generic term ‘Web Design’ has 673,000 searches a month in the UK.

By making the search term geographic specific we reduce the number of searches but make it more specific:

‘Web Design Cambridge’ returns significantly less – but more targeted - results: 2,900 searches a month.

We can be pretty sure that someone searching for ‘Web Design Cambridge’ is actively looking for a web design company in Cambridge, a strong signal that they are looking to buy, whereas someone searching for the generic term ‘Web Design’ could be looking for anything from information on good looking web design to a web design job. By making the key phrase more specific we can start to narrow down the search term and make it more targeted.

This is the basis of the ‘long tail’ keyword – finding a key phrase that is extremely specific and may not have many people searching for it. Because it doesn’t return many results long tail keywords are often overlooked by your competitors, but if someone does visit your website from the long tail search there’s a high chance you provide exactly the products or services they’re after.

By narrowing down the keywords you also stand a much better chance of coming top for a particular keyword. Search engine optimisation is incredibly competitive and if you’re reading this you’re more than likely in a small to medium sized business. Large companies spend a fortune dominating the search engines for generic keywords and to compete against them tends to be a pretty fruitless task.

It’s much better to rank well for less popular keywords where you are more likely to come on the first page, if not the top, of the search engine rankings. This is the starting point for any SEO project. In the next article we will look at what tools are available to help you find and evaluate the best keywords for your SEO project.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 July 2011 14:45


John is a co-founder of SWAYsearch.

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