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Without getting into anything too technical there are a couple of great resources out there to help you isolate keywords that you should aim for.
The Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool Advantages – The Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool is free and produces a large number of results for related searches. Disadvantages – There are two main disadvantages to Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool in determining your keywords. The first of these is that it puts everything in terms of singular, and further, it will correct misspellings (misspellings, when discovered, can be goldmines). If you run a shopping site that sells gifts you will not be able to determine whether main searched phrase was “gift” or “gifts”. The second major disadvantage to Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool is that it doesn’t provide alternative related search phrases that you might not have thought to punch in (“presents” for example).
WordTracker Advantages – WordTracker addresses all of disadvantages noted about Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool. It differentiates between singular and plural and will allow you to search for misspellings. Further, it searches a thesaurus and will make a number of suggestions for other terms you may not have thought of but which may be related to your industry. It will then analyze variety of terms that you have searched and chosen and actually make recommendations on which keywords to target based on number of competing pages and specific search engine you are targeting. It will also give you a predicted number of searches per day for each phrase. Disadvantages – The only real disadvantage to WordTracker is that it has a cost. There is a free trial on site which you can use though results it produces are far lower in numbers and it does not give you information on all of major search engines. Certainly worth checking into even if you only try demo mode (not a download – this is an online resource).
So you now have a list of possible keyword phrases … now what? The next step is to determine whether you can compete with those currently holding top positions and, more importantly, whether it will be economical to do so. The first place to look when you are trying to determine this is search engines themselves. Let’s assume for a second that you have determined that there are a good number of searches for your product and that main keyword phrase you would like to target is “exercise equipment”. The next step is to run a search for “exercise equipment”. Most people are interested primarily in their Google rankings and so you would run that search on Google producing following results: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=exercise+equipment.
The site currently holding #1 position is www.nellies.com. Take a look at site. There are two major things that you will be looking for first:
Is this a large site with a lot of content related to search phrase? In this case answer is “yes”; they have a very large site and all of it is related to topic search was for.
How many incoming links do they have? You will now want to find out what sort of link popularity you will be competing with. Links are not end-all-be-all of search engine optimization, if fact it is just one of a large number of deciding factors, however links do help to determine your Google PageRank and this PageRank is a final multiplier in determining your position. Because number of incoming links is easily determined, it is something you should look into. To determine number of links simply enter into Google search bar “link:www.domain-in-question.com”. In this case resulting page would be found at http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=link%3Awww.nellies.com. They do not have a large number of incoming links (as of Nov 19, only 11 links) and thus, this is not going to be a significant factor in determining their ranking. This is good news; now conduct same research for rest of top 5 placing web sites so that you have a broad concept of competition. This additional research is very important since there are occasions where a site will appear in Top 5 for seemingly no reason (especially with Google these days).
Now You Can Make an Informed Decision At this point you should have a pretty good idea whether search engine placement is a viable choice for your website promotions, which keywords you should target, and what competition you will be facing.
Assuming that your website needs to be optimized, you will now be faced with choice of doing it yourself or hiring a search engine placement firm.
If you will be doing your own optimization I would highly recommend reading an article by CEO of StepForth Search Engine Placement entitled “A 10 Minute Search Engine Optimization”. It can be found on StepForth website at http://news.stepforth.com/2003-news en-minute-optimization.shtml.
If you will be hiring on a search engine placement firm I would recommend first submitting your site for a free website review off of our homepage at http://www.stepforth.com. There is no obligation and it will give you a very good idea of what areas need to be addressed.
Dave Davies is the Marketing Manager for stepForth Search Engine Placement