Module 4 - Understanding Keywords (Video)

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SEO Basics Course. Module 4

Understanding Keywords

OK lets recap!

In Module 1 we looked at SEO Scams and Cons so you can avoid the companies that could cause your website considerable harm.

Module 2 covered personalized search so you don't make the very common mistake made by many website owners and think you have good rankings when you don't!

In Module 3 we saw how Search Engines go about deciding who should be in their Search Results Pages and in what order they should rank.

Now you know how search engines rank pages in the search results the next question is not 'How to rank' but 'What to rank for'

To understand this vital difference lets get back to Lenny and Sally. We'll follow them as they set about ranking for keywords they have chosen.

Sally has just launched her blog and wants one of her posts to rank top for the search term 'Cream cakes that look like bits of wood'.

She starts work search engine optimizing her blog post for the phrase 'cream cakes that look like bits of wood' and in no time at all . she is celebrating. Her website is number one on Google, Bing and Yahoo for the search 'cream cakes that look like bits of wood'.

SEO turned out to be really easy and now she's ready for visitors to come pouring into her blog.

Sally waits days and days but the rise in visitor numbers she hoped for never happens. Ranking number one isn't helping so what went wrong?

Sally chose a keyword phrase that no one ever searches. As no other webmasters were interested in competing for that phrase she got to the top quickly ... but she is ranking in a deserted space that won't bring any visitors to her website.

Lenny on the other hand has done his homework and has found out that there are one million searches every day for "cheap holidays". He wants his travel website to get a slice of that action.

Lenny starts to work night and day making sure some of his pages are really relevant to the phrase "cheap holidays"

After a month Lenny finds his website is still nowhere to be seen in the search results for "cheap holidays" but he works on to improve his SEO still further.

Another month of hard graft and Lenny is really feeling down because his site is not ranking anywhere despite containing lots of clear information related to the phrase "cheap holidays". So what went wrong?

Lenny chose a very popular keyword phrase. Usually the search results are already dominated by well established pages that have plenty of authority for these search terms.

These websites have experienced SEO teams and large budgets

Even if he worked 24/7 he would not be able to compete with them.

But don't worry. There is a middle ground when you understand search keywords and something known as the Keyword Tail.

Imagine if we could put all the words and phrases people search in a list alongside how many times per month they are searched. We order them by popularity so at the top we start with very popular phrases like Lenny's "cheap holidays". At the other end are the phrases people search once in a blue moon like Sally's "cream cakes that look like bits of wood"

We'll make this into a line graph and then flip the graph onto its side. Now you can probably see where the term tail comes from because ... well ... you know!

OK, let's make this a graph which includes a lot more search terms. The area with less popular search terms, but search terms which are actually searched fairly regularly, is known as the Gray Tail and the corresponding search terms are Gray Tail Keywords.

Here's where Lenny and Sally currently are on the keyword tail. Lenny needs to move from the highly competitive area to the gray tail where there is less competition.

Lenny could look at a gray tail search term like 'cheap holidays malaga july'.

Sally also needs to move to the Gray Tail but from the other direction. She could try something like 'wood effect cake' or 'wood effect sugarpaste'.

It is easier to rank for 20 keywords which are searched 100 times a month than 1 keyword which is searched 2,000 times a month.

But how can you know if a keyword or phrase you are thinking about is in the Gray Tail?

Luckily there are a host of online tools where you can check out how popular a keyword or phrase is and get suggestions for similar phrases you might also want to consider.

Let's start with the ones which are available for free . Google Keyword Planner, Google and Bing suggestions and related searches, Google Trends and Google Correlate.

To find Google's Keyword Planner just google it or use the link below this video or in the module text.

Once you have it open simply enter a keyword, select a filter if you want one such as 'United States only' and/or limit the results by language.

The Planner will tell then tell you how often a word or phrase has been searched in the last 12 months and give you suggestions of other related searches.

For each of these it will show you a small graph demonstrating if the search term is becoming more or less popular. In this example we can see searches for 'carpentry basics' seems to be declining.

The dollar figure is how much you would have to bid to be top of the advertisements for that term and, by comparing it with other keywords you can quickly see which ones have high competition. In other words they are not in the gray tail.

Google and Bing Related Suggestions - search the phrase you are thinking of yourself on Google or Bing and then look for their 'Related Searches' list which is usually to the right or a the bottom of the search results. These will give you ideas which you can test in Google's keyword planner or other keyword tools which we'll cover in a moment.

Google Correlations .This tool gives you more ideas by reporting what terms internet users search at the same time. It'll give you more keyword ideas to consider. In this example a search for 'vegan' revealed internet users often also searched 'easy vegan' and 'non stick pan' so if you had a website in this area you might consider adding some easy vegan recipes as well as reviews on the best kitchen utensils for vegan cooking

Google Trends - This tool won't give you new ideas but it will help you consider the ones you have. Google Trends will tell you if a keyword you are thinking of is getting more popular over time, fairly stable in terms of searches or fading out of use. Stable keywords are known as 'evergreen'.

You can also see where keywords are trending by state or by country if you are targeting internet users in a specific area.

Then there also paid tools around like SpyFu, SEMRush, SEO PowerSuite, Majestic, WordTracker, Moz and Ahrefs to name but a few. They all offer unique insights into the way people search online and the search terms they use.

Different tools suit different people. Some people don't use any at all. But finding the right one for you is very much a 'try them and see' approach and costs for trialing are usually minimal or free.

Our recommendations would be SpyFu, SEMRush or SEO PowerSuite. Links to these are below this video and in the module text.

Once you have a list of potential keywords and phrases the next step is to apply some common sense. Search them on Google and see who is ranking on the first page. If you find any are completely dominated by big brand names drop them from your list. You won't have the budget to compete!

The final result will be a portfolio of keyword phrases that you can realistically aim to rank for, spreading your chances rather than betting everything on one keyword.

Your list will continue to change and evolve as you discount ones that don't deliver the visitors you need and spot new opportunities. We'll talk more about how you can know where you rank for each keyword and how you can measure their worth in a later module.

You might be itching to start search engine optimizing your website but now is the time to invest in a little in keyword research.

And if you are contracting your work out now is the time to check if your SEO agency is trying to rank you for the right keywords.

Has this video highlighted issues with your SEO work or with a website you are working on but you don't know how to resolve them?

There are simply too many ways a website can be built for us to offer a comprehensive how to part to these tutorials however we would recommend the following steps.

Google it! If you know what platform your website is built on (say XCart or Wordpress) just try googling what you need. For example "How to make WordPress urls SEO friendly" to find out how you can make changes to the urls of your WordPress based site.

You'll be surprised how often issues have already been resolved by others and sometimes they have even created plugins so you can make the changes you need to without needing any technical skills.

If this doesn't resolve your issue you probably will need the help of a programmer. In this case see the 'Need Help' link below this video or in the module text for options.

That was module four, understanding keywords. Next up Module five, helping search engines understand your site ,and, as they always say at the end of these videos, if you like what you saw, remember to subscribe.