How to Evaluate Keywords for a SEO Marketing Campaign – Part I

One of the first steps to marketing any website is to research appropriate keyword targets for link building, on-page optimization, and social media exploits. Of course, it’s also one of the areas where most new SEO professionals make the most (and the biggest) mistakes. Many new web developers simply state that they’d like to “rank number one.” My first question is always “for what?”

It should go without saying that keywords are what drive search engine rankings. Your site could rank rather well overall for multiple keywords, but the main focus is on intelligent keyword targets with adequate traffic to secure visitors, and little enough competition to give you a chance to compete with other websites trying to rank for those same keywords.

So how do you determine the right keywords for a SEO marketing campaign? How can you use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool effectively to nail solid keyword targets for your website?

Using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool the Right Way

One of the first mistakes you can make when you fire up Google Adwords is to forget to switch the Match Type from “Broad” to “Exact.” This box is near the upper left part of the tool as it appears in your web browser. Forgetting to switch this feature can give you innacurrate search results. So, a keyword that says it gets 40,000 global monthly searches with a broad search, actually might only get a few hundred with exact match. This can ruin early SEO budgets.

Next, take the time to go through the keyword results and pick the ones that make the most sense to your business or website. Follow these tips when choosing proper keywords:

  1. Try to get a nice blend of conversion heavy keywords and plain search terms. For example, “buy SEO services” clearly indicates that the searcher is looking to actually purchase something. On the other hand, “SEO” itself can mean a whole variety of purposes, not necessarily purchase driven. This isn’t to say you still can’t convince such visitors to follow some call to action, like signing up for an email newsletter.
  2. Don’t make the mistake of trying to force obviously non-purchase driven keywords to URLs that are purely commercial. For example, link building to the home page of your SEO services site using a keyword phrase like “what is SEO” may turn most visitors off unless your homepage contains the definite answer, Wikipedia style.
  3. Do a simple mathematical equation to determine just how much traffic is enough to make a keyword phrase a good target for your efforts. First, figure out what 56%, 13%, and 10% are of the global monthly searches for each keyword phrase. You can easily set up a spreadsheet to do this for you automatically. In order, those percentages roughly represent the amount of traffic you can expect by ranking 1, 2, and 3 for that keyword, respectively. For example, “online marketing” receives around 60,500 searches each month. Ten percent of 60,500 is 6,050.
  4. So, by ranking third for “online marketing” in the SERPs, you can expect 6,050 visitors every month. Take this even further by calculating the old “3% conversion rate” for 181.5 conversions per month. Can your business survive on those margins? Is the investment in SEO to get that third ranking worth the expected (and very estimated) return?

Once you’ve determined the appropriate level of return you expect for your website, you can set a minimum monthly search number to qualify each keyword phrase ahead of time. But remember, there are other factors involved in choosing good keyword targets. We’ll get into a few of these additional considerations in Part II of this post next week. Until then, happy linking!

 

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