So many Keywords — So little time
“I see where you are going with this…
and before you get there,
there is something I need to say…”
…Start With the End in Mind
Keyword selection is one of those decisions that will affect your optimization campaign until your site goes dark.
The more information you you gather and analyze — the better your opportunity to make informed decisions about the successfully structuring of your site content.
Finding Core Terms
Keyword research usually starts with trying to identify those keywords potential site visitors would use when entering a query on to one of the search engines.
A more organized, more easily managed keyword research process is to look for keyword themes or core terms. Core terms are unique one, two, or three-word phrases from which multiple keywords will stem.
Here are some examples of core terms for a site that sells duffel bags:
- Duffel bag
- Sports bag
- Wholesale bag
- Wheeled bag
- Travel bag
The word ‘bag’ would be the true core term…but it’s so broad that there is no legitimate reason to optimize for it. If “bag” rankings were achieved the percentage of the targeted traffic it produced (i.e. searchers actually interested in their products) would be incredibly low.
A top ranking for the keyword “BAG” might produce a lot of sales, but also produce a drain on financial resources not equal or greater than sales. Therefore produce a very low, and possibly negative, return on investment (ROI).
Back to Basics: Discovering Core Themes
- Write down the purpose(s) of the website as well as a detailed description of the scope of the website in relation to its industry/subject/service, etc.
- Determine an umbrella phrase that covers the entire scope of the site; the technique is to strive for the greatest specificity without excluding any topics that are covered by the site.
This umbrella phrase is the website ‘Theme’
A website that offers detailed information on 1965-1975 Ford Mustangs, 1965-1975 Chevy Camaros and 1968-1975 Dodge Chargers might use the following umbrella phases as the site’s descriptive theme:
- American Cars
- Classic Cars
- Classic American Cars
But at the end of the day the “money theme” might be: “Classic American Muscle Cars.”
Researching Core Terms
If you are working with an existing site — review it intently.
To identify all of the site’s main themes look for unique terminology in the:
- keyword tags
- description tags
- navigation links
Open a spreadsheet file, anytime you find a core term, record it.
Core terms should be unique two- or three-word phrases.
After you have exhausted your site, do the same thing with your competitor’s site(s).
You will find ambiguous terms — when in doubt add it to your list, you can always eliminate them later.
Before concluding your core term research be sure to exhaust the following resources:
- Words you feel people would type in to find the website, its product/service, etc.
- What questions your visitors will be asking
- What visitors are trying to accomplish
- Audience needs: phrases that describe problems which are addressed by website
- Industry glossaries and reference materials
- Thesauri, taxonomies and ontologies
- Websites listed in related categories of the Yahoo! Directory
- Geography dependent search phrases
Keyword Research Tip: When researching your competition for a given keyword, make sure you take a look at your top competitor’s back‐link profile. This can give you an idea of the time investment and link building effort that may be required to be successful.