What are keywords and why are they essential even in 2020?

Before I look at the range of keyword research tools that are available, it is useful to briefly review what Keywords are and why we are so interested in them.

The simplest and best description that I can come up with is that keywords are the terms people type into the search box into their favourite search engine (be that Google, Yahoo, Bing or anything else) when they are looking to find something on the internet. Keywords can be a single word (such as ‘Camera’) or can be several words or sentences (‘canon 35mm SLR camera’ for example).

Keywords are so relevant to us as internet marketers as this SEO blog mentioned about E-A-T algorithm; they are what the search engine uses to determine if your site is related to the search that is being carried out. So if someone has searched for ‘Camera’ and your website is all about cameras, has lots of references to the word ‘Camera’ and related terms and you have optimized your SEO for the keyword ‘Camera’ then Google will consider your site when it is deciding which result to show first. Many other factors will determine if you get on page one of Google, but if you are trying to market cameras and related products, then you need to start with optimizing your site for the correct keywords related to cameras.

Short tail Keywords and Long Tail Keywords

Understanding that we need to target keywords if we are to be successful at internet marketing only gets us so far. This is because some keywords are used so often (by those searching the internet) that they are targeted by millions of websites. Take our example of ‘Camera’ as an example. Every month approximately 83 million people globally search for that term. For that reason, Google tells me that there are currently around 1.9 billion websites with the word camera included. That’s a lot of competition. Indeed too much competition unless you are a significant company with a massive marketing budget. Smaller internet marketers need to look elsewhere.

A single word keyword, like ‘camera’, is what we call a ‘short tail’ keyword. They are nearly always very competitive and not worth targeting. Instead, the best approach is to look for ‘long-tail keywords’ like our example above ‘canon 35mm SLR camera’. This long-tail keyword has 3,600 global monthly searches and around 245,000 websites with that exact term on them. This is still reasonably competitive, but if you chose to target that keyword, you would have a chance of ranking on the first page on Google, Bing or Yahoo.

The Balance between high search and low competition

As an internet marketer, you are looking for the sweet spot where enough people are searching for a term that you will get a reasonable amount of visitors, and where the competition is low enough that you have a fair chance of ranking on the first page of the search engine results.

Finding this sweet spot is not an exact science; there is a fair bit of art to it as well. For this reason, it can take a lot of work. However, the process is made a lot easier if you use the right tools. There are a number of different tools on the market at the moment, but there are two approaches I would recommend to you. First, a free method that is fine if you are only looking to set up a couple of websites. Secondly, there is a paid option that I think offers excellent value and will save you hours and hours of research if you plan to set up a number of niche sites.

The Free Option for one or two sites

If you only plan to set up a small number of sites, and you already know the topics you want to cover, then the free tools that Google makes available to us all will do the job for you. Sure, you can go into more depth if you want, and you will probably find plenty of people who will scoff at my simplistic approach. But the truth is you can over analyze this stuff. Some people go into ‘super-geek’ mode when it comes to keywords. However, those people will still be analyzing their keywords and sifting the numbers weeks later, when you already have your sites up and ranking on the search engines.

Keep the keyword research simple, get your website up and open for business and see what happens. You won’t get it right every time, but more often than not, you will.

The simple two-step process you should undertake to identify a keyword that is worth targeting is as follows;

1. Identify a keyword that is being searched, but not too much.

Open up the keyword tool and enter the broad tern you are thinking of targeting. In the example below, I am starting with ‘Contact Lenses’.

The Keyword tool will tell you how many global searches are made for your keyword every month. In this instance, you will see that the keyword is searched 2.24 million times a month.

As a rule of thumb you if you want to rank for your term reasonably quickly you need to be picking a keyword that has 1-3,ooo searches a month. If you are prepared to put in a bit more and have a lot of unique content on the subject that you plan to put on your site, then you can aim higher. However, initially, I would recommend you start with under 3,000.

If your initial keyword is too competitive, start looking through the keyword ideas that Google suggests. For example, in the second image below, I find ‘Naruto contact lenses’ that has 2,900 monthly searches.

When you find a suitable keyword move onto step two.

2. Check the level of competition using the Google Search Engine

Search for your keyword in speech marks. In this example, I will search for – “naruto contact lenses.”

If Google returns less than 100,000 results, then it is worth investigating further. Ideally, you want something with less than 65,000, but as I said above, this is not an exact science.

As you can see below, our example keyword has a low level of competition and hence is worth working on some more.

The above two-step process will, in most cases give you enough to get started. There are some further free checks you can undertake before you progress, but they are beyond the scope of this page. I will be preparing a free report very soon where I will go through those additional steps.