Keywords are the bedrock of any search marketing campaign – whether that takes the form of PPC, SEO, social media, article marketing. Picking the correct words to base the campaign upon is critical not just to the success of the online activity but can also determine the success or failure of a business as a whole. Choosing the wrong keywords and running with them makes it difficult – sometimes impossible — to attract the right kind of customers to your site. If your site doesn’t show in the natural listings or isn’t triggered when people type in the keyword they associate with your product or service, then you miss out on traffic and conversions.
Of course, keyword research isn’t a definite science, but it is an on-going process. Some make the mistake of picking a bunch of words, creating an AdWords campaign or adgroup and leaving it at that. But use of language changes and the words you as an expert would use to describe your wares are not necessarily the ones a potential client would use to find that exact same thing online. The challenge is finding a middle ground and catering for clients both knowledgeable about industry terminology and correct product names and those who search more for a function or solution rather than a specific label given to a certain item.
If you sell sofas for example and know that one of your sofas is made from luxurious aniline leather, it would be a mistake to base your campaign purely on ‘aniline leather sofa’ as some search users will simply type in ‘leather sofa’ or ‘real leather sofa’ or even just “new sofa.”
The purpose of keyword research is to make sure that you catch all of these nuances of search within your campaign and create a website, PPC advert or social media strategy that makes it as easy as possible for everyone interested in your product or service to find you online. That means catering for a number of different audiences and looking outside of your expert view of the product to look at popular search vernacular. There are a number of keyword research tools online to help you in your quest to create a campaign that is relevant and full of the right kinds of search terms. Here are three of the best.
1. Google Search Insights (www.google.com/insights/search/)
Although it’s not strictly a keyword research tool, Google Search Insights is hugely useful when you’re compiling a list of keywords to include in any online campaign. You will need a few phrases to start off with but from there, you’ll get suggestions from Google to expand your existing list.
The good thing about Search Insights is that it gives you intelligence directly from Google relating to search trends. So while you may type in ‘leather sofa’ as one of your keywords, Google can then direct you to terms based on this phrase that have recently become more popular. With Google tracking rising popularity of similar phrases, you can easily keep your keyword list up to date with new search terms as they start to filter through into popular usage.
2. Wordtracker (www.wordtracker.com)
Wordtracker is one of the original keyword research tools, founded in 1997 back when search marketing was still in its infancy. A number of new functions have been added to the basic offering in recent years but these only serve to make the resource that much more useful. There are both subscription and free service options, so you can try Wordtracker without having to pay for it if the tool is new to you.
It offers a database of over 330 million search terms, updated weekly, and provides easy ways of mining this information for SEO, PPC, link building and blogging purposes. For each search, Wordtracker will give you around 1000 keyword suggestions per search focusing on long tail variations of the primary keyword.
The site also provides organization features so you can manage your new keyword data quickly and effectively. A competition overview is one of the most useful features, allowing you to cherry pick the terms with the least amount of competition or create a blend of competitive and non-competitive terms if you so wish.
3. Wordstream (www.wordstream.com)
Wordstream boasts over a trillion keywords in its database, making for highly detailed keyword lists. Simply type in a keyword and wait as proprietary grouping features find relevant associated keywords and sort them into niches for you. Its keyword research suite can be used daily (subscription required) to find and sort keywords, creating actionable data and groups that can be imported to Google PPC or used to create content.
A free version of the tool is also available on the website to try before you buy.