I’m one of those rare creatures – an In-House SEM who is allowed to blog, speak at conferences, write articles and play with other companies websites. It was while engaging in one of these activities that I came across someone’s attempt at keyword research.
Now, I’ve been around online since high school and since I’m in the 30+ crowd, that means I was one of those freakish early adopters/geeky developers. Yes, I was a programmer but I escaped and am now living out my life in a former-programmer protection program.
My early years online and involvement ever since also means I’m am aware that I am _not_ a typical web user and so when confronted with doing SEM for any site, I do my research. Research includes keyword research which includes researching the competition and looking at keyword research result tools.
The other day I was given some preliminary work which I am sure must have taken the person ages to complete. They had obviously seen my conference talk and gone hell-for-leather in to getting their keyword research done. I can’t help but think that they were snoozing during the tools section though. The research done basically gave derivations of on-page words and nothing from any competitive analysis or any keyword tools.
Had this gung-ho person done even one keyword search using a free tool (any free tool), they would have seen they were targeting the wrong phrase. That cascaded through a complex set of combinations based on this original phrase and continued through other poorly targeted phrases.
The point here is that keyword research is about THEM and not YOU. That means you do your research for what people are _actually_ searching for and not what you think they should be looking for. Optimise your page for searchers and how they search – not your internal company jargon.
Do your research on who your competition is, what they optimise for and then start using those free keyword tools (maybe even buy one) and get that research going. Identify what makes your page unique and target those phrases.
Keyword optimisation is different for each page because each page (should be) is different. Don’t cannibalise your keywords across various pages – make each page focused and on topic and do your research for that page. Don’t dilute the power of those keywords by stuffing them on every page – make them stronger by keeping them on the relevant pages.
Search engines aren’t fooled by keyword stuffing anymore. Gone are the days when a change was seen instantly on AltaVista. These days search engines are savvy and combine over 200 factors including related terms on page, links in, header, footer, density, and more to determine rank.
Keyword research is the first step in optimisation. Get it done right and the rest will follow. Get it wrong and you’ll languish in the also-rans of the SERPs.
Some free keyword tools:
These keyword tools require payment: