Keyword research for SEO and Adwords

keyword-research-300x182Many a time, when I talk to prospects looking for Search Engine optimization services, I feel that the prospect is completely unaware of the “keywords” or the exact phrases the users type into search engines to find his business. Normally, the businesses are aware of a few keywords that could generate some traffic. However, it is the responsibility of the SEO expert to understand the customer’s business and help him choose the right set of keywords for optimization.

If you are tight on budget and not planning to hire an SEO expert as yet, then Google’s “keyword tool” comes handy to find the keywords related to your business niche along with the historical search volumes. Mastering this keyword tool is worth the time spent learning it. The keyword tool is available here.When you don’t sign-in to the tool, it has a limitation on the number of keywords shown. You may use your gmail credentials to sign in and remove this limitation.

If you are an online florist serving in Hyderabad, then you can get all possible variations of the keyword – “online florist in Hyderabad” used by Google users historically when their search intent is to find an online florist in Hyderabad. Also, you get the exact number of searches happened for each keyword. Once you have the list of keywords along with their historical search volumes, then it is just a matter of selecting the right keywords based on relevancy to your business and search volume.

Selecting the right keywords

Step-1: Relevancy is the key

When you have the keyword suggestions from the keyword tool, look for keywords that target your niche exactly. You need to avoid keywords which are vague and generic, particularly if you are a local business. For example, if the keyword “online florist” has 20k searches every month and “online flower delivery in hyderabad” has 200 searches, you should go for the latter since the keyword targets your niche exactly. Targeting generic keywords may result in Huge traffic but the traffic is mostly un-targeted.  The keywords those have more than 3-4 words are called “Long tail keywords”. Many studies have proven that long tail keywords have a greater probability for conversion than a short/generic keyword.

Another reason to choose long tail keywords is the cost of advertisement. If you choose  adwords, then your ad may attract too many clicks if you advertise for a generic/short keyword that has high search volume. If you choose SEO, then the cost of optimizing for  a generic keyword is much more than the cost of 4-5 long tail keywords put together. Sometimes, the competition is so high for generic keywords, that it may take several months to rank on the page#1!

Step-2: Search volume

While there is no rule-of-thumb to decide on what can be called a good search volume, I personally prefer to optimize for all relevant keywords (chosen from step-1) that has more than 100 searches/month. Again this 100-search volume rule applies for categories like local businesses where getting 10-20 business leads every month gives good ROI for money spent on advertising. However, for niches like online dating, keywords with search volumes lesser than 500 should be eliminated (to cut SEO costs).

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