The subject of understanding keywords, trends and analysis is not a simple one. While it should be simple in theory to data mine information and present the returned results it is only by realising that anything which involves a element of human interaction will inevitably be inaccurate.
Lets define a keyword.
A keyword or more commonly a key phrase is a particular set of words a searcher will type into a search engine to find a specific result. While referred to as a keyword in general it is generally accepted that this is actually more than one word. For more detail on keywords and the process behind choosing them you can see my other post Keyword targeting for Businesses explained.
Keywords are not generally set in stone, they are not permanent and they can be affected by a variety of external elements.Trends and trending circumstances can serve to create new keyword combinations, things such as breaking news, a new development or a political crisis for example.
Time is also a major factor in marketing to a keyword, for example, do more searches occur for Golf in the Spring and Summer than the winter months. All these aspects are critical in adapting to current market gaps and its demand, all generated by searches from individuals.
Taking it a step further even a mood can affect a keyword. Think about the economic crisis, downturns in the market and the credit crunch, these search terms where basically non existent 3 years ago but today they are being dictated by the mood of the economy and the people, a completely new set of important terms.
Business and the keywords they need
In the business world you will have heard the term “keyword” brandied about quite a bit when it comes to marketing and specifically when it comes to search engine rankings and marketing. But do you really understand the significance of a keyword and more importantly does the person who has broached the subject understand what a keyword is? Many can talk about it with convincing authority but in fact they fail to take into account various other factors.
Many of the businesses I speak to will have an idea of what keyword they want to be number 1 for when they are marketing a website or service. It inevitably turns out that this is not where they should be aiming for however after some research and analysis is performed and on occasion some quite surprising results can be produced.
Taking into account the points above, small variations in even the simplest of terms can have massive changes in results, for example if you happen to be searching for a job the tendency would be to assume that searchers will type something like jobs in New York. Analysis could show that simply changing the word jobs to work or employment can have incredible differences in returns and traffic but also competition. Moving forward in keyword marketing without proper research is like sending a blind man into a forest and asking him to find the only apple tree.
Preparing your keyword research
There are a variety of methods to establish the correct keywords any individual or business should be targeting and these are serviced on three different levels by:
- Keyword research tools
- Website analytics’s software
- Search Engines
Keyword research tools can include WordTracker (probably the most accurate) and Googles Keyword Tool to help display approximate searches by day, month and also the advertisers currently paying for top ranking privileges. These results are external reports showing the use of search engines by location from anywhere on the net.
Website Analytic tools, such as the free Google Analyitics can report back on what keywords are generating traffic to your site currently and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of this can provide valuable data in conjunction to an external tool in regards making decisions and creating strategies for meeting ranking targets.
Finally there are the search engines themselves and performing a normal search will allow you to see the competition for your industry, and this has only recently become more complicated. If you do a search on google you should also be aware these important points:
- The results in google.es will be different than the results for google.com
- The results for a search FROM the UK in google.com will not necessarily return the same results for a search performed in San Francisco on google.com even if the search term is exactly the same
- The implementation of personalised search results (when you are logged into your gmail account) can cause a totally different set of results if the results have been manipulated by the user previously.
Thus as you can see the selection of specific keywords and phrases is far from an exact science.
Keywords searches and language
This speaks for itself really. A search for job in English will obviously be a search for trabajo in Spanish but lets not dwell on multi lingual search criteria. Lets focus instead on keyword formation.
To illustrate, an English person from the UK may search for “new employment opportunity” but an English speaking person in New York may search for “new opportunity in employment”. This single change in the structure of the keyphrase can also prove (although not always) to produce another completely different set of results!
The need for keyword analysis and research
As you can see the variations and intricate knowledge and awareness required to effectively meet keyword requirements is extreme and is only one small part of the overall SEO strategy. In some cases people have even said to me”why bother if its impossible to target?”.
The point is that its not impossible to target keywords, its just damn difficult. After all would you prefer to place your business in a totally useless position on an assumption or would you prefer to have an educated idea of where you could and should be, no matter the inaccuracies involved?