1. Does anyone search for the word on search engines?
If the site is about an eating establishment, what words would people use to search for the site? Restaurant, café, diner… Does anyone use the word “eatery”?
2. Which words does the site’s target audience use?
Regional diction complicates keyword selection if a site is aimed at a large geographical area. For example, a housing site for the English-speaking world can use “apartment” and do well in the United States, but it wouldn’t do as well in other countries like the United Kingdom where “flat” is much more commonplace.
One must consider more than just geography when selecting a keyword. There are many factors that influence how an audience might search for a website. If the target audience of a website about a specific chemical consists of people with a science background, it would be best to focus SEO on scientific keywords that this audience is likely to use. A different website may be marketing a medical drug made up of the exact same chemical. In this case, the target audience would be the general public, and it is unlikely that this audience will use scientific words or phrases when using a search engine to learn about the pharmaceutical.
3. How competitive is it to rank well with a specific keyword?
Ranking well on results pages for “restaurant” is very tough, since there are millions of sites for restaurants. While other words like “diner”, “café”, and “eatery” are still very common on websites, they are far less common than the word “restaurant.” It is, therefore, easier to influence the search engine rank of a restaurant website using these less-common words instead. Due to the difficulty of ranking high in search engine results for an extremely competitive keyword such as “restaurant”, SEO professionals will usually focus on more specific words or phrases. For instance, a local pizza restaurant does not want or need to appear in search engine results for everyone around the world who searches for the term “pizzeria”. If the local pizza restaurant is in the Georgetown neighbourhood of Washington, DC, it would make a lot more sense to focus SEO efforts on phrases such as “Washington DC pizzeria” or “Georgetown pizzeria.”
4. How does one find out words that are commonly used by a specific audience?
There are several ways to answer this question. For highly specialized sites, the SEO professional’s clients are often the best resource since they will know best what words are used in their specialized field. One useful tool is Google Suggest. Google Suggest lists the number of results that the search engine presence for a specific keyword. This can be helpful in determining the relative popularity of different keywords one thinks the target audience may use to find one’s site. Other tools include keyword selector tools that will read the pages on a website and suggest keywords to the SEO professional based on their prevalence and the presence of synonyms on the site’s other pages.
A website’s traffic analytics program is a great resource for revealing what keywords people already use in search engines to locate one’s website.
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