If there is one thing in SEO whose use has been most controversial since the onset of organic search trends, it is the use of keywords. Keyword research does play a major role in your SEO strategies of 2012.

keyword.gifKeywords have been an integral part of search on the web and search engines have largely revolved around the 'right' use of it to analyze and rank and improve search results quality for websites over time. In 2012, Google has become fresh content oriented and favors social signals to a site. There is almost no importance driven to the meta data category of keywords, or so is what they make you think, but there sure is hundreds of other factors that implies the presence of good SEO on the site. Nevertheless, keyword in the site content, in the source code and  in relevant content that links to your site do get considered as ranking factors along with the major lot of other SEO 2012 search factors. This is a no-brainer fact which would never go out of fashion that searches are mainly based on these quintessential keywords and a search for such words leads us to content that contains it with good amounts of relevance and quality. 

Let me give you an analogy to keyword research that aims to show the tricky part of this incredibly overrated and at times underrated concept - Keyword research for SEO. 

Keywords for the 'Searcher':

When you feel sick and rush to the hospital, Doctor asks you to list the symptoms. So if you just say sudden hair fall, it could mean a huge list of things from bad nutrition, stress to alopecia. However, it is only when you elaborate it further and list associated symptoms like brittle nails, weight gain and so on, the doctor would immediately correlate it to hypothyroidism and suggest necessary treatments. 

This analogy best suits to the user of a search engine, their pattern of keyword input and the quality and relevance of search result output. You give the right keyword, you get accurate results. 

using the right search terms.jpg
As for searcher, you must know some essentials of search especially in search engines like Google (Google being the most popular one with 900,000,000 unique monthly visitors, wow!). For instance, your intention to look for the keyword [Apple] would be to gain info about the health benefits of apple, but Google bots go ahead and retreive results relevant to Apple Computer Inc in the first page of your search. 

As long as Google comes up with some artifical intelligence in future to read your mind, with a Google glass maybe, you need to be more specific with keyword search you perform. While you are at it, you may go ahead and exclude stop words that Google bots do not really crawl and keep your search terms short.

If you are looking for keyword phrases that display in the site content next to each other a.k.a exact matches, just include double quote on both sides of the search term. As a novice user of the search engines you may find good hints to refine your search and acquire perfect and faster results on Google on the Google Guide

Keywords for the 'Researcher':

hair fall searching keywords.jpgLets go back to 'hairfall', I mean both in the real sense of the word (intensive keyword research for SEO can really lead to hairfall due to stress, trust me) and as a keyword search analogy.

So, here we are as a keyword researcher, being expected not to know the disease but to know the symptoms in people you haven't even met. You need to know what a typical hypothyroid patient would type in that search bar. You also need to judge between keywords like 'hairfall treatments' or 'hair loss solutions' to be optimized on your site. You need to get into the psychology of the search engine user and know what might be the exact word or phrase they are inclined to type in to reach your website.

You would be lying if you say you are an expert at keyword research, because if your claims are based on being able to utilize a keyword tool, your attempts are nothing but bullets shot in the open air. There are keywords that bring in traffic to your site, but that isn't all that you need now, is it? What you need is conversions, and conversions mean a sale/purchase/subscription/sign up.

So the question really is, for your SEO 2012 Keyword Research strategies, what approach is apt to produce results? Let's have a look.

Competitor Research:

It does not matter how long you take to perform keyword research for your site SEO, you must keep in mind that this is the most crucial foundation of your site's search engine performance. Never underestimate your peers and do not think by offering something free or cheaper alone would make you a hit. You first need to become a search engine celebrity to be found and conversion to take place on the basis of your unique selling proposition. 

  • First things first, an in-depth research for the sites that rank better or those that are on par with your site, is a must. 
  • View the source code of these sites and list out the keywords used. 
Choose the best keyword that is relevant to your site content and optimize your website organically and naturally for those keywords. If the keyword is too competitive, try adding another word to it and finding the popularity of the longer version of the keyword. Your tool for keyword research is the search engine where you plan to optimize your site. This of course is only a part of keyword research strategy, you need to analyze and come up with other keywords from your search and use what is best and more importantly relevant.

Quick survey with Existing Clients that came through search:

Look no where else but within your own precious resource of existing clients. Learn from them how they reached you. If it was through search, what was the keyword they typed. Your clients would be happy to oblige. Some businesses just spend days and weeks on keyword research but fail to interview 'real' people who have had major contributions for conversion on your site. 

Keyword Tools:

You have a series of paid and free keyword tools that let you know keyword statistics based on geography, global searches, local searches, anchor text inclusions, title inclusions, exact match statistics vs broad match statistics and so on. The most widely used one is Google Keyword Tool. Here is a step-by-step guide to use the Google adwords keyword tool.

Other tools available for keyword research are:
Wordpot (free)

Alternate Keyword Search Options:

Google Insights for Search tend to give a different  prospective towards your keyword search. While Google trends gives you a graphical representation of the current search trend for the keyword on the basis of the searches carried out, Google insights represents the amount of search for the particular term used in various categories  of Google search. 

You could also just type in the keyword in the search bar of the search engine and look for the number of real time results that it retrieves for the term. This result might sometimes be slightly different than that shown in the Google adword keyword tool (this tool is not to be entirely depended upon as they show user keyword searches for PPC ads and not entirely for organic search). Note down a list of such words in an excel sheet and create your own parameters to check the number of pages that return for each pattern of related and relevant keywords used. In case, you also want to check the presence of the keyword in the title tags type allintags:"keyword" and in case you want to know the keywords used in the anchortext type allinanchor:"keyword". 

Below is the list of search operators that help you categorize and narrow your search on Google and record the number of results retrieved for the search term.

search operators.png

Google Instant is yet another useful addition that lets you find popular keywords from head terms to long tails. This could be a feature that could be coupled with competitor research mentioned above thus also saving you extra research time. 

Keyword Popularity test on Social Media:

Although not completely associated with active keyword research for SEO factors of 2012, there does appear to be some sort of advantage to optimize for keywords often found on social media mentions. For this, you could quickly have a research for your chosen keywords on sites like Topsy and Social Mention. In the long run, it would really help to get acquainted to this type of a keyword research especially since the launch of Google social network. It is quite apparent that the launch of Google+ is more than just a product to beat the unbeatable Facebook, but much importantly a place to find authority on authorship and ranking the pages accordingly based on the author's +1 graph.

Test trials on PPC campaigns:

Check the feasibility of your keyword in real time by investing a little on PPC ads. Check the clickthrough ratio and decide for yourself the real time response for the possible keywords that can do SEO wonders for your site.

Optimize use of Tracking software:

Apart from other tracking software that you use, you are at an added advantage to use Google Analytics and Google webmaster Tools to track the maximum response for keywords that not just bring traffic but convert on your site. This would help in knowing the best keywords to be used for SEO on the most popular search engine in the world. Chances are that if your existing client has come in using a certain keyphrase, there are more out there looking for the same keyword. The good news here is your site would have been already optimized for this keyword. So you end up optimizing what is already optimized which is good or bad depending on your site performance at the given time. A mix and match research may also give you newer insight on fresh keyterms to be used along with updated content on the site that scores high on the Caffeine search update.

Choose your long tail keywords wisely:

Head terms are short and very generic when it comes to producing optimized search results for your page. However, head terms for example "directory submissions" for instance could either be an user-intention to gain recent updates on online directory submissions or to get a list of directory submission websites for DIY listing. If you were a directory submission service provider, you may earn web traffic to the site for this keyword but would they really convert. On the contrary, if you were to optimize for a long tail keyword like "directory submission services" or "directory submission services India" you could expect targeted traffic to your site that is bound to convert. 

A last word though before I end this article is that, please do not limit yourself to keywords used on Google or other popular search engines. You must first understand the user behavior on search and follow the pattern in which your prospective website visitor would tread. Read more about this in the recent article by James Green that happens to be a true eye-opener for all those struggling to optimize keywords just for the search engines.

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SEO News

Tags :

keyword research, keyword research for SEO, keyword search, SEO 2012

About Divya Fernando

Divya Fernando I am Divi Fernando and I am an expert SEO author who is also into Business Development at Submitinme.com. I have loads of energy and I disperse it in varied tasks that involve writing, dancing, singing, strumming my guitar, drawing, photography, travel and adventure. I believe that 'You must take pleasure in what you do, or simply don't do it'. I take immense pleasure in my work as well as off-work activities and I'm always open to learn new things in life. My strengths are my positive attitude, confidence, innovative thinking and creativity. I also happen to talk too much about myself at times and never know where to stop. Thank goodness for the limited space, you must think .... more info