Choosing good keywords is vital to having your website's individual pages show up well in search results. They can be the common keywords that are used across your entire website, or page-specific keywords that help to define the topic of a particular article or section of information. So how should you go about picking them?
Keywords tell search engines what your website is all about.
There's some simple groundwork you can do before planning out a website or new web page, as well as some handy free tools that we use ourselves all the time. As you work to create new content for your site, these tools should become part of your research and planning, helping to inform the purpose of new content, and help you to forecast the potential effectiveness and reach of the content.
Nothing spiritual involved here. This might seem silly, but just open up a brand new tab with Google search ready to go, and try to put yourselves in the shoes of your customer. Try to ignore all of the biases and assumptions you have that come from your expertise and experience in your website's subject.
The people performing searches don't know the stuff that you do. That's why they're searching for it.
Every single person has their own unique assumptions about the world that totally changes how they would approach searching for information online. You need to try to consciously be aware of of the assumptions you have that would skew what you look for.
It can be helpful to ask some friends or colleagues how they would go about searching for the whatever your website is about, or even ask them to sit down and actually do it - take note of what they plug into Google.
Try to create a list of phrases that accurately reflect what your website is about, and also bring up relevant competitors. Try to look at commonalities between these phrases, and this is where you'll start finding individual keywords that you can start to use in your content.
Once you have some keywords and phrases ready that you think people are going to use to look for information like yours, it's time to run them through some tools.
Google Trends is a fantastic and completely free tool to check the popularity of search terms. You can break down popularity by location, as well as compare similar terms against each other to see which is more popular at the moment, and how they have trended over time.
As an example, imagine that I was running a website that provided free recipes, and my primary audience was Australia. I've noticed that recently, the popularity of vegetarian recipes has been on the rise, and I've heard the same thing about vegan recipes. Naturally, I want to figure out how they stack up against each other for my location, so I know where to focus my energy to get the most traffic coming to my site.
My first step would be to enter the search phrase "vegetarian recipes" into the search bar, and then use the filtering tools to change my area and time range.
This shows me that search interest for vegetarian recipes has held pretty steady in Australia over the last 5 years, with perhaps a slight overall decline.
My next step would be to click the compare button and type in "vegan recipes", so I can see how they stack up.
Now this is useful. I can see that vegan recipes had less popularity in recent years, but has risen recently and is now comparable or perhaps slightly more popular as a search term. Armed with this knowledge, I can decide how much effort I should put into each type - maybe 50/50, maybe learn towards vegan recipes.
Further down the page I can also assess what similar search terms people looking for, so that I might also use these words (if relevant) when I put up my new recipes.
I can see that keto recipes are the most trending related search for both vegetarian and vegan recipes. I decide I better figure out what the heck keto means, maybe putting up some informative articles about the keto diet in general, and also putting up some keto recipes for both vegetarians and vegans.
This is a basic breakdown of using Google Trends - compare your keywords and phrases against each other, check out popularity, and see what similar searches are being performed.
If you want to take a look at the test results that I was using, click here.
Answer the Public is another free tool to help you visualise the context for a particular search term. Don't be put off by the grumpy looking old dude sitting behind the search bar. There's no way to directly compare here, so we'll just search for "vegetarian recipes" and then hit Get Questions. Wait a little bit while the old dude crunches some data in the background, and then scroll down to see your results!
Of particular interest is the prepositions section, where I've been given a visualisation showing exactly 100 variations on searches containing "vegetarian recipes", along with some sort of preposition (such as without, for, can) and some kind of condition.
This gives me a lot of ideas for specific types of recipes or informational articles I could get started writing. I could run the same search on "vegan recipes" and then compare the two manually if I wanted - there might be some crossovers, and I could write something from the crossover phrases to maximise my potential audience.
This is a shameless self-plug. We've built a tool called the Litmus Test, available here, which performs a technical audit of your site, checking the technologies used, as well as assessing SEO potential.
If there's any issues found, the test will tell you what they are, and provide generalised solutions to help you fix them. This information is provided free & without obligation.
If you're interested in creating more specific solutions to problems on your website, or you just want to ask questions about maximising the SEO for your website, drop us a line.