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Keyword Research

keywordKeyword Research is the next stage of the process. Having compiled a list of industry terms in our first pass and then seen, through the competitor analysis, which terms your closest competitors are aiming for, we are now beginning to build up a lexicon of words specific to a particular industry.

But while you will find certain keyword expressions being mentioned again and again, there is a trade off between the time, cost and effort it would take to rank on that specific phrase and the volume of business it would bring your way.

Obviously in certain markets there are trophy terms accepted by the industry as a whole to be key drivers. But the first thing to get to grips with is what words and phrases do potential customers use to look for a product or service. For an individual beginning to search for a product is always a learning process.

Initially searchers will begin using broad product search -“Mobile Phone” for example. But as they define their product preferences and begin to eliminate or adopt certain products, their search terms become way more focused. Further they begin to learn terms and rapidly narrow their search from product category, then to brands and then to specific products.

Search_progress

Looking at some real life examples: We work on a site that lists events and venues, a kind of “ents” site. A very busy week for the site would be the run up to and including St. Patrick’s Day. Limiting our analysis to the feast of the patron Saint, in the week of the 17th, the site was visited by people using 1006 different key phrases containing the word “Patrick”. (It should be noted that there were 57 keyword phrases containing the word ‘Paddy’ – so there’s no accounting for taste!).

If you think that visitors are going to spell your company name or the product correctly, think again. Out of the 1006 keywords used only 37 managed to used “St. Patrick’s” in the correct form with a period at the “St” and no sloppy apostrophes attached to the name – and certainly no abbreviations of the same.

Taking on board that people will search in different ways, you still have to have a list of primary phrases that you feel will act as strong drives. But these front line phrases will only deliver a certain amount of traffic and here we introduce the concept of the ‘long tail’.

long_tail

Take again that week in March, the top 100 keyword phrases brought in just shy of 10% of the total visitors. The top 500 dragged in nearly 20% of the total traffic. As there were many thousands of keyword phrases used during the week, over 70% of the visits were spread across tens of thousand plus key phrases. The points to illustrate here:

  • there are a few phrases that have good search volumes in any industry but they can be very difficult to rank for due to the sheer volume of competition
  • whatever way you look at it, the majority of your traffic will come from other quarters – from the long tail.
  • in order to capitalise on this you have to have a site with relevant content and enough content to cover many of the long tailed searches.

Keyword research is incredibly important and you have to spend a bit of time on it. Opting for a keyword(s) that are not a good fit for a page or that are low volume can be a disaster for a site.