Keywords are the words and phrases used to describe your business, products and services. The factors below lead to a wide range of possible keywords for each product or service that the search engines see as unique.
- Variations (plurals, spellings)
- Qualifiers (adjectives, descriptors and their synonyms)
Google does a pretty good job of recognising synonyms and returning web pages that don't necessarily contain a search term but do contain a synonym for that term. For example, a Google search for 'new automobile' returns many results containing the word 'car' as a synonym. However, a search for 'new car' does not return exactly the same results in the same order, so Google does (at this time) still recognise them as different keywords.
Keyword variations include plurals, different country spellings, common misspellings, shorthand spellings, different word orders etc. Again, Google is pretty good at recognising that these are different variations of the same word, however they still don't always return exactly the same results when these variations are searched for so we have to treat them as unique keywords.
Qualifiers are additional words added to better describe or further qualify what the keyword is referring to. They can be loosely categorised as either specific or non-specific.
These are qualifiers that specifically relate to that product or industry, such as brand names or a word like 'spoiler' which specifically relates to cars.
These are more general qualifiers that are common across many industries such as words relating to colour, size, price, quality etc.
Not every qualifier will fall neatly into one of these categories. Many will sit somewhere in between, making it more of a continuum. I have discussed search qualifiers in the past with my posts on location qualifiers, discussing the different qualifiers people use when looking for local or location-specific results and my post on business qualifiers, discussing the different ways people look for businesses. The keywords produced from adding multiple qualifiers are often referred to as 'long tail keywords.'
The diagram below shows how the number of potential keywords can quickly escalate when you consider synonyms, variations and qualifiers.
Which Keyword Should I Use?
The best keywords will have:
- High amounts of search traffic
- Low competition
- A high conversion rate
Is Keyword Research Necessary?
No. Not everyone needs to do keyword research to be successful. However, it's more important if:
- You are targeting a small market- If there is only a small number of customers out there, you want to make sure you're targeting a keyword that has a worthwhile amount of traffic. In some industries these keywords might be obvious, but in others not so much.
- You are in a competitive industry- because you may pick a keyword that has such high competition that you have no chance of ranking for it.
- You want to get the most out of your website- Keyword research will help you get the maximum return from your website.
I Don't Want to Do Keyword Research
If you decide not to do keyword research there are a few things to keep in mind to maximise your chances of success.
- Choose keywords that are descriptive and relevant to the subject of the page
- Try and think of your products from an outsider's perspective, how might they search for them without knowledge of the industry?
- Remember that longer keywords (more words in them) tend to have lower competition and produce a higher conversion rate, but they also have lower traffic.