Content optimization is a key focus of any SEO (define) campaign. After all, you're constantly adding to and updating your site and blog, so there are always new opportunities to tweak content and improve overall search engine visibility.
But to be found for the right words on any site, you must undergo regular, extensive keyword research to understand what words people use when they search for your goods and services. You must also understand how many searches are taking place for targeted words and phrases to evaluate the size and competitiveness of specific keyword markets.
Toward this end, we'll examine some common tools used for keyword research and how to get started optimizing your site's content today. Generally speaking, there are two types of keyword research tools: keyword suggestion tools and keyword analytical tools.
Keyword suggestion tools allow you to understand what words people search for and their general popularity in specific venues. Keyword analytics tools provide keyword suggestion functionality, as well as the ability to understand the competition levels of search terms and determine the relative size of the search referral market as associated with specific keywords and phrases.
Using these tools will help you select the most appropriate keywords and phrases when optimizing site content. These keyword research tools will also help you semantically emphasize those words and phrases you want your site to be found for. Of course, all this research needs to be balanced against the volume of search referred traffic (visitors) your site already gets from search engines.
Some of the free keyword suggestion tools that professional content optimizers use follow.
A visual search engine, Quintura extracts keywords from search results and builds a word cloud about the topic. By drilling down specific keywords in the tag cloud, you can quickly see how some words are associated with other phrases. Powered by Yahoo, this tool is a great place to start when brainstorming what words are associated with other common phrases.
Quintura was actually voted the Best Alternative Search Engine in 2007 by AltSearchEngines. You can use it to grow your understanding of what keywords are closely associated with each other. Doing so will help you build rock-solid keyword themes within your site.
Google Suggest and Yahoo Search Suggest
Google Suggest is another great place to start compiling a list of words and phrases to be researched. Just start typing and watch what Google suggests for refining your search query. It's a quick way to get a bead on common combinations or words used to find results in Google.
Google Suggest offers suggestions for search queries in real time. It can also quickly gauge the level of competition for certain keyword phrases. Use the arrow keys to navigate the results. Functionality is similar to Google's "Did you mean?" feature that offers alternative spellings for queries after search results have been displayed.
For example, if a user types in "bass," Google Suggest might offer a list of refinements that includes "bass fishing" or "bass guitar." Similarly, if a user types in only part of a word, like "prog," Google Suggest offers refinements like "programming," "programming languages," "progesterone," or "progressive." Google Suggest is a great tool for helping build out initial keyword lists for further research.
Yahoo Search Suggest works in a similar manner, displaying query refinement options that reflect how searchers use the words in Yahoo. Either tool can help you begin to formulate some theories about common taxonomies as it relates to potential search referral traffic.
Google Trends provides a great way to compare the overall popularity of specific words and phrases against each other. From Google Labs, it shows the most popular searched terms from the beginning of 2004 to present. Google Trends charts how often a particular search term is entered relative to the total search volume across various regions of the world and in various languages.
Google Trends allows users to compare the volume of searches between two or more terms. It's able to show news related to the search term overlaid on a chart depicting how news events affect search popularity. It's a great tool for making quick decisions about focusing on one set of keywords rather than another. It's also terrific for understanding regional influences on keywords and phrases used in popular search queries.
Of course, there's no actual numerical data supplied. But if you're under a tight deadline, trying to get a handle of which keyword to emphasize in the title of a press release, Google Trends is a good tie-breaking tool to have in your repertoire.
Google AdWords Keyword Tool
The AdWords Keyword Tool will not only help you estimate how much your AdWords campaign will cost you but also help you understand the competition levels among keywords and phrases that you intend to target.
The tool provides helpful alternative keywords to target; however, it doesn't display the number of searches carried out. The AdWords Traffic Estimator will provide information about total potential clicks an ad may receive each day for each keyword. But these are just estimates. For natural search, it's another handy tool to help you build your initial keyword list for further research, which is where keyword analytics tools come into play.
The differences between keyword analysis tools and keyword suggestion tools are many. For example, Google tool data is compiled completely from Google's site network, as Yahoo's tool sets are restricted to the its site network.
Remember, numerical data often reflects the number of Web pages indexed with that term or phrase on the page, not how many searches are queried per keyword. To see just how different keyword analysis tools are, such as KeywordDiscovery and Wordtracker, tune in next time. For now, start brainstorming your master keyword list to prepare for deeper analysis in the weeks to come.
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P.J. Fusco has been working in the Internet industry since 1996 when she developed her first SEM service while acting as general manager for a regional ISP. She was the SEO manager for Jupitermedia and has performed as the SEM manager for an international health and beauty dot-com corporation generating more than $1 billion a year in e-commerce sales. Today, she is director for natural search for Netconcepts, a cutting-edge SEO firm with offices in Madison, WI, and Auckland, New Zealand.
March 19, 2014