Why are you building a website? Do you have a product or service that you’re trying to sell? Do you want people finding your site by searching on Google? If you’re building a website that you want to rank well in the search engines, keyword research must be number 1 on your priority list. In fact, creating a website without the proper keyword research and selection is like building a house without blueprints or plans. How can you expect to build a well organized site without knowing its focus or foundation? However, I come across it everyday, individuals create websites without realizing the importance of keyword research and the impact it has on a site being a success or a failure. Keyword research is more involved than simply choosing a keyword for your site; you need to select a keyword that you feel confident you can rank for without a lot of difficulty, or all your time, money and energy may be wasted.
The biggest problem I usually see is that individuals building their websites don’t realize how to choose a good keyword and how important it is. In a nutshell, keyword research is a method people use to determine the exact word or phrase that individuals enter into (Google, Bing or Yahoo) or any other search engine when their performing a search. This research is critical if you want to achieve good rankings for your keywords. Now, I’m not going to go into how to perform the keyword research or the tools to use in this article, that would have to be a separate post and there are already many well written articles on this subject (search the term “keyword research” on Google). Instead, I’m going to illustrate just how importance keyword research can be through a couple of real world examples.
In the following case studies I was looking for a few specifics related to the keyword or keyword phrase.
- Is the keyword relevant to the content of the site
- How competitive is the keyword
- Is the keyword a valuable keyword
Keep in mind that it’s not important to just drive visitors to your site, what is important is to drive the right visitors to your site.
Case Study 1 – Keyword Research
The first site I looked at is a site geared towards product sales. The website is a real estate investing site with a focus on an investment strategy termed tax lien investing, and promotes books related to the purchase of tax lien certificates. This website has a good layout that is easy to navigate and is well defined with quality content that is relevant to the site’s theme. The landing page and all supporting articles are well written and provide a good user experience. The home page also provides over 1000 words of content that is properly optimized for the targeted keyword, and has relevant links to internal pages and post to enhance a user’s visit. A search engine user looking for information about tax liens, tax deeds, tax sales and real estate investing would be directed to useful, relevant content. The main problem the site was facing was the lack of visitors due to search engine positioning.
I examined the sites target keyword and started my research on the keyword’s value for the site. It appeared that the keyword chosen was a highly competitive keyword that was trying to rank against very authoritative government sites. Through keyword research I discovered other keyword phrases that were just as relevant to the sites content but far less competitive. The target keyword was changed and the on page content was adjusted to match the new keyword phrase. Although the new keyword receives fewer monthly searches than the original keyword, the improved rankings and traffic should provide a positive improvement.
After the modifications were completed, we allowed a few weeks for the changes to be indexed and for the new keyword to achieve ranking. A check of the sites rank provided the positive impact we were hoping for, the site move from a search engine position of 500 + to a position on the second page.
Case Study 2 – Keyword Research
The second site I reviewed was a fitness and health website. This website covered a wide range of information centered on the theme of fitness and health; general health, healthy recipes, nutrients and supplements, diet and weight loss and several other site relevant topics. Although the focus was broad, the information was categorized well within very specific topics. The site contains over 250 useful, quality articles, and through the proper use of categories a visitor is presented with a good experience that’s easy enough to navigate. Even though the site was targeting information that is frequently searched for, the number of visitors to the site was low.
I selected several of the cornerstone articles on the site and reviewed the keyword usage. I discovered that although the articles were using the keywords properly; correct keyword density, proper use in the heading and subheadings, used in the alt text of images and placed in the proper areas of the context, the keywords were basically useless keywords. The chosen keywords were not terms that individuals were using in the search engines. We used these articles as our test bed and choose keywords that were highly targeted yet low competition keywords and waited for the results.
After one week we had our answer, by changing the keywords to site relevant terms that people were actually searching for began bringing an influx of traffic to the site. As a result the remaining articles on the site will be evaluated and modified as required.
Case Study 3 – Keyword Research
The final site I reviewed was a destination specific website. This website focused on a vacation destination in Taos Ski Valley New Mexico. The site has an appealing layout, a good choice of topics and provided content that was relevant to the sites theme. The information covered a broad range of material for the ski resort including lodging, restaurants, and events in and around Ski Valley. The site flowed well and the content was interlinked between relevant posts and pages. The targeted keywords for each article were optimized well with the proper keyword density and correct keyword positioning throughout the article, within the images, in the page title, in subheadings and in the meta description.
Upon further inspection I determined that although the site was using low competition, highly searched keywords, the keywords select weren’t really relevant for the content in the posts. Since the content itself was relevant high quality material, it was decided that we would select different focus keywords for each page and post within the site. We choose keywords that were still low competition and commonly searched terms, however the keywords chosen were highly relevant to both the post content and the sites theme.
After all the changes were completed and a few weeks had passed we began to see a good increase in traffic to the site. We checked to see what kind of impact the changes had made and were pleased to discovered that the site was ranking within the first 15 positions of the major search engines for the new keywords.
People often build websites and select keywords without realizing the positive or negative impact it will have on the site. Choosing a keyword without the proper research is like playing the lottery, you may get lucky and pick a winner but, chances are you’ll lose. Never underestimate The Importance of Keyword Research, it can make or break your site.