Getting search engine traffic to your website involves more than simply putting up a pretty website.
Search engines are in the business of linking people who want something to websites that provide what they are looking for.
The tool that search engines use to figure out what people are looking for is the search box. Users enter terms in the search box and the search engine matches those terms with content of webpages and delivers the results based on a best match.
Each search engine uses a slightly different process of determining what constitutes a best match, but all use keywords in their formula.
The term keywords sounds a bit complicated but it is nothing more than the terms that are entered in a search box.
Think about the last search you did. Here are some of mine (can you tell what I’ve been working on?):
- How to cook bacon in the oven
- Hours for Cedar Grove Compost
- Where to recycle broken concrete
- Round metal balusters for outdoor decks
- Deck board spacing
- History of Colonel Sanders
If your website contained information related to any of these topics, you would want the search engines to direct traffic to your website.
How do you know what people are actually searching for?
Whenever you do a search on Google, or most of the other search engines, the words you enter in the search box are recorded in that search engine’s database. This information is then made available to businesses and advertisers so that we can use it in our marketing efforts. Google Adwords Keyword Tool is a free tool that gives you access to this search information.
1. Go to www.adwords.google.com.
2. Enter your word or phrase. Although you can search for multiple terms at a time (just enter one per line), I’d recommend you do just one word or phrase at a time to start.
3. Website and Category fields are optional. I usually skip them.
4. Option to “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms” will only display results that include your original search terms. Don’t check this unless your first search returns a large number of unrelated results.
5. Advanced Options and Filters. These will default to include your location, language, and device. Change if necessary.
6. Prove you are a person by typing in the characters.
7. Click Search.
Your results will be displayed in a table:
At the top of the table are the keywords as you entered them, and below that are Keyword Ideas generated by the system. For each keyword(s), the actual term is listed, followed by the Competition, Global Monthly Searches, and Local Monthly Searches.
Good keywords to target are terms that have a high number of searches and low competition. This indicates an under-served topic and will be relatively easy to rank for.
You can re-sort the results by any of the fields by simply clicking on the header. You can also download the entire list by clicking the Download button.
Check the Competition
Once you have your list of potential keywords from the keyword tool, it is a good idea to see what kind of quality content already exists for the term.
To check Google, simply click the arrow next to the term name, then click Search Google.
Copy and paste the term into other search engines as well to see if the results differ.
Look for the number of relevant search results. Do they fill more than one page? You want your website/webpage to appear on the first page of results. If lots of quality results already exist (i.e., many pages), it may be difficult to obtain a first page ranking.
Keyword research is an important part of any market research effort and can help you pinpoint viable topics for growing your business.