Not too long ago, I chanced upon a blog post where the author declared that he is on top of Google. Curious, I read further and found out that the post claimed to rank number one for a certain website keyword and he was explaining how he got there (which is basically by using the keyword on his title and as the first words in his article). I checked and sure enough, he was on top. But I also checked his keywords on Google Keyword Tool and discovered, just as I suspected, the keyword receives very few searches, which makes it very easy to rank high for because it will have little or no competition at all.
The fact that it has low, almost negligible, search volume speaks for the quality of the keyword. It won’t generate significant traffic because no one is searching for it. Ranking high on a search engine is rather pointless if it won’t bring your site any traffic.
How to Choose a Good Website Keyword
The first and most crucial step that you need make when starting with SEO is to choose the best possible website keyword to optimize for. There are many tools that can help you with narrowing down your choices. But the good ones are usually not free. Good thing, Google offers a number of helpful tools that you can use for free, specifically the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, Google Search-based Keyword Tool, Google Trends. Microsoft also has its Commercial Intent Indicator.
Use these tools to find a keyword that satisfies these basic criteria for a good keyword:
1. More specific rather than broad. A multiple-word keyword, or what they call long-tail, is easier to rank for than a single word.
“search engine optimization marketing” looks a lot more promising than “SEO”
Likewise, long tail keywords often target more than one keywords.
“how to find someone’s email address” can also target
“how to find someone’s email”
“find someone’s email address”
“find someone’s email”
2. Has a least an average of 3000-6000 monthly searches. When you get better at SEO, you can start picking keywords with higher search volumes. But for now, experiment on those that don’t receive that much searches first, which are usually moderately competitive, but has enough search volume that can generate significant traffic.
Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool to know the EXACT average global and local monthly searches that a keyword receives. I put emphasis on the EXACT because the Google Adwords Keyword Tool offers 4 match types: Broad, Phrase, Exact and Negative. Among these 4, only the Exact match type gives search data exclusively for the exact keyword. To know the differences between these match types, you can check out Google’s explanation.
3. Has a relatively low competition. It’s important to consider the level of competition to gauge whether or not it’s possible to rank high for a certain keyword. Some keywords are just too competitive that it’s almost impossible to outrank the top websites on the SERP.
To know roughly how much competition a keyword has, many suggests using the intitle and inurl search command.
For the “search engine optimization marketing” keyword, enter the following in the search engine:
intitle:”search engine optimization marketing” or inurl:”search engine optimization marketing”
This will return all websites that have the keyword in their title or in their URL. They explained that most SEO specialists know the importance of the title tag in on-page SEO and if they are optimizing for that keyword properly, they will definitely put it in the title. The same goes for using keywords in the URL.
There are no definite numbers that measure a keyword’s competitiveness. But obviously, if Google returns millions of sites with the keyword in the title or the url, then it’s highly competitive. If the result gives less than 10,000 sites, then it’s considered not competitive at all. Anywhere in between is less to moderately competitive.
Another way that others use to check the level of competition is to analyze the PR of the top 10 sites ranking for the keyword. Here’s a simplified process that I learned on how to do it:
(Note: this is not a standard process of accurately determining the level of competition of a certain keyword. It may or may not work depending on the niche.)
- Type your keyword (without quotes) in the search engine.
- List down the top 10 sites that comes up in the SERP and get their respective PR.
- If you’re using Firefox, you can install the SEO Quake addon which will automatically display the PR of the sites in the SERP.
- Get the average PR.
- If the value is 3 or less, you have a good chance of ranking in the top 10.
- If PR is between 3 and 4, it’s doable but a little harder.
- Higher than 4 can be really difficult unless you have an aged and established domain and your site’s PR is at least 4.
- But if you see even just a single PR 0 page in the top 10, it means that ranking could be easier than you think because the sites might not be strictly optimized for that keyword after all.
Other things to consider and the tool that you can use for them:
- Average cost per click or CPC, if you have Google Adsense on your site. [Google Adwords Keyword Tool]
- Commercial intent, if you are selling something or have Google Adsense on your site. [Commercial Intent Indicator]
- Search trends, to monitor search volume patterns. This is especially helpful for season- or event-related keywords. [Google Trends]
Picking the right and best website keyword is not an exact science. You will rarely get it right the first time, but practice makes you good at it. So don’t be scared to experiment on a few keyword choices. You never know, you just might strike gold.