Knowing the search terms (or “keywords”) your potential visitors are searching for is crucial to attracting them to your site. Your choice of keywords can determine the success or failure of your SEO campaign.
So what are these "keywords"?
Let's think a little about how a user searches for information on the internet. Say that a potential donor or prospective client is looking for a community center on Chicago’s South Side. She might open Google and type in the search terms “Chicago community centers” or “south side community center Chicago”.
The terms she types into Google to search for are “keywords.” To make it to the top of her list of google results you must know the terms she's likely to search for.
- Start by brainstorming. Try to come up with as many possible keywords as you can related to the services you offer. Include your organization's name and location in your keywords list. Be as specific as possible (more generic terms are more competitive). For example, "Chicago computer courses" may be more useful (and easier to compete for) than "computers".
- Check the popularity of your choices using an online keyword database. A very popular free database is Yahoo’s keyword tool http://inventory.overture.com
Yahoo's keyword tool shows how many times your keywords were searched during the previous month, giving you an idea of which keywords have the potential to send the most traffic to your website. Keep in mind that optimizing for very popular keywords has the potential to drastically increase your traffic, but will also be proportionately competitive. Yahoo's tool is best suited for organizations just starting out with SEO.
Other databases require payment for access. These include:
Why pay? The paid tools listed above offer a better view of actual user searches because they break out individual keywords by misspellings, plurals, etc. This can result in a more informed decision on keyword selection; however, these tools are generally more suited for advanced SEO campaigns.
- Narrow down your list to a few keywords including your organization's name, location, and your main subject area.
Once you decide on the keywords to target, you will be ready to apply those keywords in the next step in the process, Website Optimization.
Next: Website Optimization