Search Engine Optimisation

Summary / Quick Tips

Finding the right keywords is very important. You need to know what words and phrases people are using in their searches before you start your optimisation.

  • Think about what people will type in to a search engine to find your information, product or service.
  • Try Google's keyword tool to validate your chosen keywords.
  • Find keywords, and phrases that have low competition and high search volumes.
  • Check out your competition on Google for your chosen keywords. Can you compete?

What Keywords Should You Use

Imagine what your customers would type into a search engine if they were looking for your information, product or service. Try various searches on Google and visit your competitors to understand which terms are commonly used.

If many well established websites are already optimised for your chosen keywords, it will be difficult for you to get a good ranking on search engines. When this is the case, try optimising for a phrase rather than a single keyword. A more specific phrase will have lower competition than the more general keywords and phrases and may have a better conversion rate.

The challenge is to find keywords and phrases which have low competition (i.e. fewer sites optimised for them) and a high volume of searches (i.e. lots of people use them when searching).

Obviously, this is not easy and the keywords and phrases you select will generally compromise on either competition or volume to some degree.

Google Keyword Tool for Adwords

Google provide a useful free keyword tool. The tool is intended to help people target keywords in their paid advertising campaigns on Google Adwords. However, the tool is generally helpful in gauging how popular your chosen keywords are, identifying alternative keywords and appreciating the level of competition targeting your keywords.

Here are some tips on using Google's Keywords Tool for general SEO.

  • Enter your keyword or phrase, leave Use synonyms checked and click the [Get Keyword Ideas] button.
  • Change the "Columns to be displayed" drop down list to Show All.
  • Select Exact Match from the "Match Type" drop down list box. This tells the tool to show statistics for cases where the user searches for the exact phrase you have entered.
  • You could also play around with the Phrase Match option in the "Match Type" drop down list. This will show statistics for cases where the user included your chosen search term, but also included additional words. For you to rank well in these cases the other words they entered would need to appear somewhere on your web page too.
Google Keywords Tool
  • The image above highlights two columns of particular interest. Try to find keywords with low advertiser competition and high search volumes. Our assumption here is that people who are advertising will also be optimising their websites for those phrases.
  • Look down the results for the "Additional keywords to be considered" for other keywords that you may not have thought of.
  • Notice the "Estimated Avg. CPC" column. If you decided to run a paid advertising campaign on Google, this is how much you could expect to pay each time someone clicks on your ad.

Testing Your Keywords On Google

When you have a list of keywords and phrases, test them out on Google to see who your competitors are.

We recommend you use the Firefox browser and install the Google toolbar. This allows you to see the page rank of each webpage you visit. Page rank has a maximum value of 10. If you find that your test search returns more than ten pages with a higher page rank than your own website, it may be harder to get listed above them if they are making good use of the same keywords as you. However, if they are not optimised for your keywords, you could still get listed above them.

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