SEO Tutorial: Keywords

By James Atkinson, LLB

Have you heard a child use the term: “Sick as!”? To teens and other kids it means: “It’s great!” To you, your parents or grandparents, sick means well, sick!

Words and their meanings change. And that’s just one problem of keyword research.

Have you ever tried to find a single document in a computer that has been saved in folders named by someone else? Chances are you’re going to have lots of trouble figuring out their folder structure and the terms or keywords they’ve used.

If you sit down and try to determine the key phrases searchers use to search for information you’ll have very similar problems.

Keyword research is not easy – but it is absolutely essential.

Search engines show the current landscape of the market, based on the keywords web pages are using together. They analyze theme co-occurrences to create a picture of theme relationships.

Over time, theme relationships change. Some themes increase in importance while others decrease. New themes pop up on web pages, which creates new co-occurrence relationships.

The search engines reflect these changes after they happen – that is, they will reflect what the market does. Because theme relationships are always evolving, your site also needs to keep pace with changes in the market place.

Your SEO cannot be a static process that you do once and never think about again.

You need to stay tuned in to the market to pick up on new trends and keep your site current. Your continued relevance and high rankings will depend on how well you cover your theme compared to your competitors. Thus It’s important for your site to evolve with the market. You should add new silos as needed and create lots of relevant fresh content that will interest both human visitors and search engine spiders.

The Lantern on the Stern

Within any market range, I like to view search engines as a ship at night that ploughs on in the “wine dark sea” (a great description from Homer’s The Odyssey).

The only light it sheds on a market is like a lantern on the stern - illuminating a small area at the back where the ship has been and is NOW – not where it’s going to go:

keyword research lantern

The whole of the Market Range comprises thousands upon thousands of keywords and related keywords. You can set out to "own" the whole of the market: that is, to rank high on ALL of the keywords in the market. However, this would be a Herculean and impossible task and I don’t recommend it.

A more realistic alternative is to rank high on niches within a Market Range. Trying to rank on every keyword in the market is not a good use of your time because many keywords will not be relevant to you – they would not bring in many sales.

You are better off using your resources to rank high on high-response and ROI keywords (identified through your survey: see - Why You Must Survey). Good keyword research provides you with all of the possible keywords in a Market Range from which you choose a PATH (illustrated by the arrows above).

Broadly speaking, you should rank for themes that are:

  1. Relevant to your USP (Unique Selling Proposition),
  2. Have been shown to get a direct response by your survey, and
  3. Educational terms that will let you capture searchers early in the search continuum.

It’s important NOT to let the search engines tell you who you are. The keywords you use should be best suited to your own business requirements.

You need to choose themes that really reflect your USP and business identity, not simply try to rank on themes that have the most searches. The next image illustrates how you build a blueprint from the keywords you have found in the search engine data:

keyword research

Let's now look at putting all of this into practice with Keyword Blueprints and Long-Tail Keywords.

SEO Tutorial - Keywords > Long-Tails >