SEO – How Important is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is absolutely critical to successfully optimising a website, yet amazingly it is often the part of the process that ends up being rushed. When I say successfully optimising a website, I don’t simply mean getting it to rank high in search engines, you might be thinking that surely that’s the whole point of search engine optimisation (SEO). However there is absolutely no point ranking high for keywords that either do not receive many searches from internet users, or keywords that generate the wrong type of traffic.

So what is the wrong type of traffic? Basically in my view the wrong type of traffic is users who are not interested in your product/service offering and are never likely to be. People who are new to SEO often make the mistake of optimising for keywords that do receive lots of traffic, but they are highly competitive phrases which require a lot more work and time in order to achieve high rankings. When and if they achieve high rankings they are often not specific or targeted enough to convert traffic into leads.

In order to find targeted key phrases it is important to think about to type of phrases users are likely to enter into search engines when trying to find your service or product offering. Let’s use an online store selling scuba diving equipment as an example, someone might be tempted to optimise for the phrase ‘scuba diving’ because it receives a high volume of traffic each month.

However a more sensible phrase to optimise for might be ‘online dive store’ or ‘scuba diving equipment’ as these phrases still receive a good amount of traffic, they are more specific in that a user is clearly searching for the type of products/services on offer and there will be less competition.

So how do you find the right keywords? I would recommend a tool called Wordtracker, this is widely accepted in the SEO world as being the best keyword research tool in the industry, within Wordtracker you can find out how many searches there are each day on specific key phrases as well as how much competition there is. I won’t go into detail on how to use Wordtracker in this article, since that really warrants a completely separate (and much more lengthy article).

So to summarise before starting to optimise any website I would always recommend that thorough keyword research has been completed to ensure that you actually get the results you’re hoping for. Also be wary of any SEO consultants or web designers who do rush this process or in fact skip it altogether, unfortunately it is not uncommon for companies (often web designers without SEO experience/expertise) to simply guess at the keywords, or use very generic phrases rather than conducting research.