Choosing the right keywords is critical…

Today we had our usual mid-week SEO meeting to review new clients and make keyword suggestions. We had four new folks come on in the past week and we always start with what they think should be the keywords. While some have a good handle on what they should be, many do not.

Keyword selection must come before any on page or off page SEO activities and is more important than both for success. But what makes a keyword good?

  • It has to be a buying keyword. For example, Houston used cars is a much stronger keyword than cars. So even though cars gets 100x the amount of searches, your future customers won’t be looking there.
  • It has to have enough traffic to warrant the work. For doctors or lawyers, a search volume of 100 targeted searches a month may be enough to warrant optimizing, but a barber or restaurant would be looking for 1000 or more.
  • The competition needs to be weak enough to beat. If the competition is hard, then it will take longer to rank. You have to sit back and evaluate whether the ROI is there and move on to the next word if it isn’t.
  • Cluster your keywords. If you can group several keywords together that have words in common your work efforts will multiply because work to rank one word will spill over onto the others. The amount of help depends on a lot of factors, but it’s good to keep this in mind when trimming the list down.
  • Get your domain name in on the action. If your domain name has the keywords inside it you see a big bonus in search results. An exact domain match to keyword is the best.
  • Search volume is not an indication of competition. Just because something is searched for a lot (or a little) doesn’t mean it’ll be hard to beat. You have to evaluate the competition for every word you consider.
  • So what happened for our clients? Two had new/weak sites and we recommended they change their domain name to better match their target audience. One was going for global import/export keywords that were extremely competitive AND had low search volume. For him we found a couple of niches that had good volume but could be obtained for less than 10K/month. The other one already had a good handle on what she wanted and we just needed to narrow down to where she could get the biggest bang for her buck.

    This process is very much like matchmaking web surfers to the right business web site. We love being able to massage Google rankings and ultimately help companies get more business. Great stuff!