Choosing your Keywords

What are your target keywords?

This question was met with incredulity from a search engine optimisation client recently. "Isn't it obvious?"

They then gave me a brief list of generic terms, mostly taken from the main menu on his website. As a telecoms company, this list started "telecoms", "landlines", "mobile phones"...

All of these generic terms would either have nobody searching for them, would only have "researchers" (not buyers) searching for them, or would have so much competition that you'd stand no chance of getting first page rankings.

Choosing keywords is not obvious.

If you are in the electrical appliance industry, you are unlikely to have many potential customers searching for "electrical appliances". People aren't interested in "electrical appliances", they are interested in "DVD players" or they are interested in "digital TVs". they are interested in specific items.

If you own a small toy shop, you would need to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds competing for a first page ranking for "toys". The big boys like Toys R Us will absolutely own that keyword. You will stand no chance.

So, how do you go about choosing your keywords?

Firstly, forget what you do. Nobody searches for what you do, they search for what they want. Think about what your potential customers will be searching for. Think about what products or services they will be searching for. Not only that, think about what problems your potential customers might be trying to solve. People don't always know exactly what they want or need so may just be searching for solutions to their problems or requirements.

Next, think about location. If you only sell you products in Gloucester, you should target searches containing the word Gloucester, such as "DVD players Gloucester". More specific phrases like this should be easier to get good rankings for than generic terms like "DVD players" just because every DVD retailer (and manufacturer) will be competing for the generic term.

If you sell to a larger area like Gloucestershire, try targeting search phrases containing Gloucestershire, but also, the major towns, "DVD players Gloucestershire", "DVD players Cheltenham", "DVD players Stroud", etc.

Try a few search terms in Google. You can see how many other websites are also competing for those terms at the top right of the results page. Generic terms are likely to have millions of competitors. You need to find keywords and search terms which only have thousands of competitors or less.

OpenGlobal use several sophisticated software applications to help with choosing keywords, analysing competitors and estimating traffic. But if you at least understand the sorts of keywords you should be targetting, you can start to gear your website towards those terms and track your results.