How to Choose Winning Keywords

What is a winning keyword? It’s a combination of search terms that drives traffic to your website – but just like Goldilocks and her quest for the perfect bed, it needs to be just right in that it accurately describe your business niche and attract lots of visitors but is not too competitive so as to make it nearly impossible to achieve page one Google, Yahoo, and Bing results. Finding just the right keywords is both art and science. Here are tips some to help you find winning keyword combinations perfect for your website.

Beginning Your Quest for the Perfect Keywords

When it comes to the right words to describe what your business offers, the possibilities are nearly endless. Let’s say you own a business in Orlando that offers prepaid cell phones and calling plans both online and via a bricks-and-mortar store. What are consumers going to search for to find your site? They might type in “prepaid cell phones in Orlando”, “cheap long distance plans” or even “Florida iPhone calling plan”. But there are literally hundreds of more combinations that someone could use. So how do you narrow down the possibilities?

Start by following these steps:

  • Put yourself in the customer’s shoes; what terms would you use to locate the goods or services you sell online?
  • Now take the most popular keyword phrases and actually do a search on Google. What sites do you find? Are they your biggest competitors – or did you end up somewhere unexpected?
  • Use Google AdWords Tools (free to any Gmail user) to research the popularity and traffic of your most accurate keywords. Will it be possible to rank highly for those words or should you focus more on phrases that describe your company’s very specific market niche?
  • Take your initial set and add any new keywords suggested by Google to compile a list, along with the statistics provided by the AdWords keyword tool (use a spreadsheet).
  • Sort the items in your spreadsheet according to search volume. Get rid of the ones at the bottom of the list as these won’t be key to driving qualified traffic to your site.

Narrow Down Your List

By this point you should have a lengthy list of possible keywords. You could keep them all and choose to optimize a handful per month, or you may want to narrow it down even further and focus all your SEO efforts on just the top few.

Hopefully you have a list of competitors in your industry. Use the Google AdWords tool to determine what keywords those companies are optimizing.

Take a look at your website’s traffic logs. What terms are current visitors using to find your site? Are they accurate and relevant? If not, chances are you are naturally incorporating keywords that are not optimum.

Remember that broad keywords are highly competitive and it would be nearly impossible to optimize your site effectively to rank high for them. Drill down on your most profitable and/or most popular goods or services and use keywords that describe them. In the example above, that might mean using a model name, such as “iPhone” in a phrase like “iPhone with free text and data plan”.

Keywords are one of the most important pieces in the SEO puzzle. Take the time to properly research your market and your competitors in order to find winning keywords for your website.