May 6, 2014
How to Make the Most of Keyword Planning
Even though Google is focusing on semantic search and the Hummingbird algorithm, there’s no escaping that keywords remain an important part of SEO. Optimizing for keywords – and determining which search terms are most relevant for your website – can be anything but straightforward. Keyword optimization can be like a bell curve. Add a keyword or two to the elements on a page that affect SEO, and your site may improve in rank. Keep adding keywords to those elements on a page, however and the rank benefit diminishes – to the point where if content is ‘over-optimized’ or “stuffed”, you will actually start to lose rank.
Keyword research tools help identify which keywords users are entering into search engines and how often those keywords are being searched on a monthly basis (search volume). Mastering keyword research is essential for spotting opportunities and identifying relationships between keywords that users use to search the web. Keyword research is an important first step in optimizing your site’s pages with keywords and keyphrases that are relative to your business and have the potential to drive traffic to your site.
It’s important to note that optimizing content for search while still creating engaging, quality content and avoiding over-optimization can be challenging. In general, don’t try to optimize a page for too many keyphrases (more than 3), and keep the keyword relationships close to each other. If you find yourself trying to optimize pages for more than 5 or 6 keyphrases, you should consider breaking down keyphrases into smaller groups and creating multiple pages to keep each page focused and targeted.
For specific details on how to optimize a page and use keywords throughout the page’s architecture, you must read the Moz guide to building perfectly optimized pages by Rand Fishkin.
#1: Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is useful for more than just creating an AdWords campaign – you can also use this tool as a starting point for conducting general SEO research. While Google may have retired its old “Keyword Tool”, the Keyword Planner brings better structure and focus to keyword research. Keyword Planner is especially useful for businesses focused on geographic segmentation. To tool allows users to bundle geographic regions together, and also to analyze keyword search volume data on a city-by-city level.
#2: Bing Keyword Tool
Last year, Google completed its switch to encrypted HTTPS searches, effectively eliminating keyword data for site owners and removing keyword segmentation from Google Analytics. Not Bing! While Bing may not have as much search traffic as Google, they’re more than willing to share what keyword data they do have with site owners with the Bing Keyword Research tool. A word of caution: since Bing does have significantly less daily search traffic than Google, check your site’s average search volume carefully to avoid over-emphasizing statistically insignificant results.
Welcome to related keyword research on steroids. This free, third party tool instantly generates keyword suggestions from a keyword or keyphrase and displays them in organized groups. Go to Ubersuggest, enter a term in the search box, choose a language and a source, and – voila! – Ubersuggest will pull keyword suggestions from standard web searches, as well as search verticals like: shopping, news, video and images. Inspired by a result? Simply click on the word to generate further suggestions for the term. Compile a keyword “basket” by clicking on terms that inspire your next blog post or PPC campaign.
#4: Keyword Spy
If you have ever wondered which keywords your competitors are using on their websites and PPC ad campaigns, this is your tool. Keyword Spy provides competitive intelligence to help you build a profitable list of keywords using your competitors’ most popular and effective search terms. In addition to showing you your PPC and Organic competition, they also have a column for misspelled versions of the term you’re searching for. Though you’ll get the most out of one of the paid options, there is a lifetime free trial that offers limited results, and you can try it out when you visit the site. Keyword Spy is useful for delivering in-depth analysis for your competitor’s top performing keyword phrases.
Similar to Keyword Spy, SEMrush’s tool is known for helping search and marketing professionals do keyword research based on organic and paid SERP data from Google, rather than aggregate data. They track metrics from Google AdWords such as volume, CPC, monthly trends, and more. Users can see keywords based on phrases and related keywords, and use this information to help them better understand keyword relationships. In addition to keyword research, you can see the websites that currently rank in organic search for a keyword or keyphrase, study their ad text, and compare other SEO metrics. You can do keyword research with limited data for free. They offer a Pro and a Guru plan, with the latter having the ability to track 1000 more keywords and 45 more campaigns. Again, you can try out limited features on their site to see if SEMrush is a tool you’d like to purchase.