This is part three in my series, SEO step-by-step.
We’ve now covered the first two steps of optimizing your site for top search engine results:
- Start with your own initial list of keyword search phrases, thinking of what your customer would enter when looking for a site like yours
- Enter these search phrases into Google and analyze all the top results in order to get new keyword ideas and learn from your competition
For step 3 we will again turn to Google to not only get even more keyword ideas, but also to score each search phrase and calculate the best search terms to focus.
Google provides a keyword research tool as part of the their Ad Words service:
The tool is free for anyone. If you also sign up for a free Google Ad Words account then Google gives you additional keyword ideas and you don’t have to keep dealing with the CAPTCHA challenge, so I think it’s well worth signing up, even if you never do paid search. The Keyword Tool has a search form that looks like this:
You can enter multiple keywords into the “Word or phrase” box as long as each is on a separate line. So you can take the entire list that you generated in steps 1 and 2 and paste it in and click search. You can also enter each of the websites from you list of competitors, but you have to do that one website at a time.
After you click search and select the “Keyword ideas” tab you will see results like these:
The results will have two sections:
- Your original keyword list
- Additional keyword ideas, up to 1,000 additional search phrases that Google derives from your list.
For each keyword search phrase it tells you the number of searches and the amount of competition. There are “Global monthly Searches” and “Local Monthly Searches.” These two numbers will be the same unless you go into the Advanced Options and select a particular country such as the United States. Then it would show you world-wide and US search counts (or whatever country you selected). The competition tells you have many websites already exist for each keyword phrase.
Your goal should be to target the relevant keywords with the highest amount of traffic and lowest competition.
You could page through this list manually, but I will show you how to automatically calculate your best keyword opportunities.
At the top of the results there is a Download button. If you click it, select “All Search Results” and then “CSV for Excel” it will save all of your search results into a CSV file that you can load into Microsoft Excel. When you do so the file looks like this:
Now you can use Microsoft Excel to help you find the best keywords to optimize your site for. Remember, you want to target the highest number of searches and the lowest competition. Notice that in Excel the competition column no longer says Low, Medium, High, but instead there is a decimal number: 0.59, 0.14, 0.38. Google gives you the competition value as a number between 0 and 1 with 0 being low competition and 1 being high.
To calculate the best keywords we’re going to add a “Score” column that we can sort by. In cell E1 go ahead and add the word “Score” as a column heading. Then move down to E2 so you can enter the formula.
Remember, the lower the competition the better for you. But Google gives you the value with lower competition having an smaller number. So here’s the formula we will use to score each keyword:
Cell C2 is the Global Monthly Searches. B2 is the Competition. If we take 1 minus B2 then we effectively flip the value around so that lower competition will have a higher number.
Now copy the formula in E2 to the rest of cells in column E. Then choose Data, Sort, Sort by Score, Largest to Smallest. This will put the keywords with the most traffic and the least competition at the top of your list:
You can now start at the top and work down, skipping any keywords that are not relevant to the market you are targeting.
In my next post I explain how incorporate the keywords you select into the webpages of your website. Be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed so that you will be alerted whenever I add a new post.