First Page of Google, Part III, Keyword Discovery

How to pick the search engine keywords you want to place for?

I’m going to share the major steps we take when we walk clients through keyword discovery process and select effective keyword phrases for their web site. There is both an art and a science to picking the right keywords but this explanation will hopefully give you a good clear picture.

1. Imagine what you think people might type in to find a service like yours…write down 20-100 possibilities.

2. Look at your competitors websites, if you have competitors.

3. If what you do is unique, ask your customers what they’d search for.

4. If your business is a local service, consider what geographic terms apply.

After these steps you’ll have a big list of possible terms to work with.

How to assess the comparative competitiveness of a search term?

In many cases, you’ve turned up words that are equally relevant to your business but some of which are more competitive that others. How do you know what opportunities exist in your list of words? Which keywords might be better or easier to use to draw traffic to your site? The process that uncovers these answers is called keyword research.

Internet Marketers are using professional tools like Word Tracker to get detailed information about how competitive a term is and how much traffic it commands. You can get similar but less detailed info from the free Google Adwords keyword tool that I’ve discussed on this blog. Internet Marketers are selecting terms that aren’t too popular but not too unpopular either. They are on the outlook for keyword phrases that may not be too popular but have traffic. Or they’ll qualify the term by adding the nearest geographic terms.

For example, the keyword “website” is more competitive than “web site.” When optimizing my business website, I can opt for the term web site design Berkeley over website design Berkeley as there are fewer websites vying for that traffic.

How to assess the robustness of your site?

Before you start making changes to your site, you want to assess where you are now.

1.    Make sure you have installed Google Analytics or a comparable traffic measuring tool on your site.

2.    Once you’ve picked the terms you are going to work on, you’ll want to see how your site comes up for those terms now. Are you on page 1-5 in the search results for that term? Keep a record for how you rank.

3.    Finally, you can use to compare your site to your direct competitors. Look at the sites that come up on the first page for the term you are interested in.

When you input your site and your competitors, you’ll be able to see how many pages and back links your competitors have. These results will give you an approximate idea of what your site will need in pages and back links to show up on the first page search results.


Karen Nierlich
Karen Nierlich

Karen Nierlich is in a Principal in the web design and development firm Full Orbit Web and Marketing. She loves keyword research and optimizing websites. She notes that 90% of the website she looks at are not optimized, which means there are lots of opportunities for you, the business owner, if you choose to optimize your site and work on growing the local traffic for your service business.

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