Saturday, 3 May 2008

Five FREE Ways to Find Great Keywords

Keywords are a crucial aspect of any website. Making sure your web pages are optimised for the words and phrases used by people on Google etc is vital for on-line success. In essence all a search engine is doing is acting as a middle man between people who want something and people who can provide it. Whether it's a singing teacher, a great deal on a new car or simply some advice on a problem, people use search engines and these match search words with websites - it's that simple.

There are many ways of finding keywords and some great tools to make the task easier. This list, although in no way exhaustive, offers five ways to start looking for great keywords today.

  1. FREE Keyword Tools
    There are many free keyword tools that will give you search volumes for keywords and suggest alternatives. The free versions of these tools won't provide information on competition and keyword effectiveness but you can pretty much figure this stuff out yourself. One simple tip is to take the keyword suggestions and search for pages with these keywords in their title element, often called the title tag - a fairly good indicator of a page being optimised for the term. Here's an example of just such a search.
  2. Guessing and Brainstorming

    Why not? It's free and it might work. Although it may seem like a bad idea guessing and brainstorming what people are searching for isn't that far fetched. If you have analytics tools embedded in your site, and if you haven't you really should, you can see if your guessed and brainstormed keywords are generating traffic. It's not the most scientific way of finding great keywords but on a tight budget it's hard to beat.

    You can further check your guessed and brainstormed list using the many free keyword research tools mentioned above. However, don't be too quick to dismiss phrases with no search volume. If you think the phrase is viable try it, but make sure you can test for its use by using analytics.

  3. Drilling into your Analytics Data
    Leading on from number two, your analytics data is a great source of keyword research. Where the keyword research tools give you data on general search volumes, analytics gives you data on searches that have resulted in a visit to your site. Grab the top 10 keyword searches that have sent traffic to your site. For each keyword establish your search engine position. If you are in position one for a search term you are in good shape. If however, you're in position six on page three for a term imagine how much traffic it might generate if you can improve on that.
  4. Traditional Media

    TV adverts, radio adverts, adverts in magazines, junk mail etc all use trigger words to entice people and grab their attention. In a similar way to guessing and brainstorming you can optimise for keywords you find in traditional media sources.

    Again you can test these phrases for search volume using the free research tools but as with your brainstormed keywords don't be too quick to dismiss words that show low search volume, especially if you are chasing a particular geographic area.

  5. Ask your Friends

    Asking your friends and colleagues may seem like a strange idea but it isn't. Although the data in the keyword research tools is valuable and very useful the one thing you don't know is what the person who used the keyword was thinking. You can take an educated guess but you won't actually know.

    Say you run a hotel and you want to target the weekend break market. You could ask your contacts what they would search for if they were looking to get away for a few days. If you frame a question to your friends such as this you may well discover some great keywords. The SeedKeywords tool is a free resource to help you with this approach to keyword research.

Hopefully this list of free keyword research techniques will help you improve your website's visibility in the search engines. Keyword research can be very time consuming but the rewards can be huge. There are lots of great keywords with high search volume and very little competition just waiting to be snapped up.

More in this category: Keyword Research