Business Speaker on Keyword Research
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational keynote speaker whose topics include search engine optimization and keyword research. He’s a leading authority on self-employment and the author of Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed (2011, Wiley). The 12th and 13th chapters of this award-winning book (2012 Small Business Book Awards) are entitled Keyword Ideas and Keyword Research respectively (in Part 2 of the book: Plan Your Internet Presence) and are included below for your review. The book has a total of 80 short chapters, each ending with an Implementation Checklist. His perspective on the critical importance of keyword research and it’s value in search engine optimization (SEO) is summarized below.
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Keynote Speech about Keyword Research
Many people believe the opportunity with search engine optimization (SEO) is over, but nothing could be further from the truth. The process has simply shifted to a more minute level of targeting. The trick is to identify the right keywords and then build content round those phrases. With service business, these keywords can include location-based keywords like city names and neighborhood references. It’s called geo-targeting and it offers tremendous opportunities for the right businesses. Patrick discusses modern SEO in a methodical and tactical way, allowing attendees to immediately see where the opportunities lie.
Chapter 12: Keyword Ideas
Why reinvent the wheel? Look at what your competitors are doing; what you find out about what they’re doing right (and wrong) will help you get started.
This chapter (along with the next two) lays the foundation for your web site. You might already have a web site and that’s great. But the vast majority of web sites were built without this proper foundation in place. Once we’ve gone through the process, you’ll probably have a very different perspective on what your web site needs to do.
Let’s dive in. On the Internet, everything boils down to keywords. Everything is indexed according to keywords and a web site that’s built on efficient targeted keywords has a much better chance of getting found, especially on search engines.
Did you know you can see exactly how your competitors built their own web sites? It’s true. You can visit any web site, right click with your mouse (using Internet Explorer), and select “View Source” from the drop-down menu. Newer versions of Internet Explorer actually have a “View” option right on the toolbar with “Source” listed on the drop-down menu. Viewing the source opens a second window where all the code for that web site is displayed. Go try it. If you weren’t already aware of this, it’ll amaze you. So how can you benefit from viewing a web site’s source code? Perhaps the biggest opportunity is that you can see exactly which keywords your competitors are targeting. If you’re on the homepage of a particular web site and you click View Source, you’ll notice a few lines of code at the top that start with “meta name.” Usually, you’ll find a code for the site description and a code for the keywords being targeted.
Do a search for your ideal keywords and visit the sites that come up first in Google. Because these web sites are ranking at the top for the exact keywords you’d like to target as well, it will benefit you to view their source code and see what keywords they are using. Whatever keywords they’re targeting are helping them achieve their impressive search engine rankings. This is a great way to start building a list of potential keywords for your own web site. Open a Word document and start copying and pasting your competitors’ keywords from their web sites into your document. It won’t take long and you’ll have a long list. Go through the keywords and highlight the ones you like. Don’t worry about narrowing the list too much. You can have as many keywords as you like. But highlight the ones that relate most closely to your business.
In the next chapter, we’ll use the Google keyword tool (mentioned briefly in Chapter 7) to measure the targeting potential of your favorite keywords and give you suggestions for other related keywords as well. For now, just make this big initial list and highlight the keywords you like most. Then put those favorites at the top of the page in a larger font. We’ll refine the list later, but it will form the foundation of your web presence.
Once you finalize your keywords list, print it out and post it beside your computer. Every time you write something for your web site or blog, look at your list. Use your keywords wherever possible. After a while, it’ll become second nature, but at the beginning make sure you have your list nearby and etch those keywords into your mind. For search engines like Google to find your web site, your site must offer content about the keywords you’re targeting. Your list of keywords tells you exactly what information your web site needs to offer. Give the search engines what they’re looking for. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with better rankings. It’s that simple.
Keyword Ideas: Implementation Checklist
Identify your ideal keywords and phrases.
Search for those keywords on Google.
Visit the homepages of the top web sites.
Right click and select View Source.
Copy the keywords listed in the meta tags.
Paste the keywords into a Word document.
Highlight the keywords you like the most.
Print the list with your favorites at the top.
Post the list beside your computer screen.
Compare notes and ideas with a colleague.
Chapter 12: Keyword Ideas
Where are the “sitting ducks?”
In Chapter 7, we talked about the publicly accessible Google keyword selector tool and used it to see what search words your potential customers were using. I said it then and I’ll say it again: this tool is essential to understanding your market. Keywords are the “key” to identifying opportunities.
When it comes to keywords, the ones you want to find are the sitting ducks! What do I mean by that? I’m referring to the keywords that have respectable organic search volume (in other words, they are frequently being searched for) but have almost no competition. Those keywords are what I call sitting ducks. They’re just waiting to be targeted! And the Google keyword tool makes them easy to find.
Step 1: Enter one of your primary keywords into the Google keyword tool and sort the list of search results by “competition”. By “competition,” the Google keyword tool is referring to the pay-per-click (PPC) competition for that particular word or phrase. You may not be interested in doing PPC advertising and that’s fine. But competition in the PPC world usually mirrors that of the non-PPC world, so you can extrapolate one from the other.
After the keywords have been resorted, scroll down to the bottom of the list where you’ll find the keyword phrases that don’t have much competition. The keywords with low competition but good search volume are what we’re after.
Step 2: Pick a few phrases that seem to have good search volume but limited competition and write them down. Then search for “Wordtracker keyword tool” on Google and use the free Wordtracker trial to get an estimate of the daily search volume each phrase gets. That’ll give you a good idea how many people are actually searching for each phrase. Wordtracker and Google run on different engines and you will find inconsistencies between them. That’s okay. The idea is to get as much information as you can and then target the phrases that are the easiest to conquer.
Step 3: Put each keyword phrase with good search volume but limited competition into a standard Google search, using quotation marks around the phrase. Make note of the total number of listings that come up for each. For example, if the Google search results page says “showing 1 to ten of 238,400 listings” or “about 238,400 listings” (depending on the browser), write down the number 238,400. That gives you an even clearer idea of how many web sites are discussing that precise phrase. The exact number of search results that come up isn’t important. The important thing is to compare the number of search results for all the different keyword phrases you look up. Some have many thousands of listings while others have far fewer. The keyword phrases with the fewest listings are the easiest to target because they have less competition.
These three simple steps allow you to identify the keyword phrases that are like “sitting ducks,” just waiting for some attention. In fact, finding these easy-to-exploit keywords is an extremely sophisticated research process and some companies regularly charge thousands of dollars to conduct the process we just described. I once picked a keyword phrase and got my web site on page one of Google search results for that keyword phrase in just 17 days. The phrase was “growth marketing” and it didn’t take much for my site to come up first. Why? Because the phrase “growth marketing” had almost no competition. Do I get a ton of traffic from that one phrase? No. But I do get some, each and every month. Can you imagine if you targeted 10 or 20 of these phrases? This stuff works.
Even though effective keyword research can make such a huge difference in terms of your web site’s search engine ranking, probably 90 percent of companies never do it. Please don’t make the common mistake of overlooking this important step. Efficient keywords are the most important building block for a successful online identity.
One last note: I am generally a big proponent of doing things yourself. That’s what this book is all about. And you can definitely handle keyword research. But if you’re in doubt at all, it’s important enough that I recommend paying a professional to get it right.
Keyword Research: Implementation Checklist
Visit the free Google keyword tool.
Search your ideal keywords and phrases.
Sort the results by “competition.”
Scroll to the bottom of the list.
Look for low competition but good volume.
Write down the attractive prospects.
Visit the free Wordtracker keyword tool.
Get an estimate of daily search volume.
Google each phrase with quotation marks.
Note the total number of listings for each.
Target best volume and lowest competition.
Hire a professional if you’re in doubt.
Compare notes and ideas with a colleague.
End of chapters – click here to buy the book on Amazon.