ION's Search Engine
Optimization Training: Instructions for Keyword selection & keyword tips
SECTION ONE - How to find the most profitable Keywords
Keywords are essentially what
SEO is all about. This page will attempt not only
to show you how to pick profitable keywords for your site or page, but it will try to show you the real
way that web site traffic marketing works... Supply, demand, relevancy, how people look for things on the
net. It's a beautiful thing once you understand it, and an important concept to know for any size of an
SEO project. So if you are going to spend time to
do any section right out of our Twelve, this is the one. Selecting your keywords is so important to SEO that
I could fill the page here with examples of exactly why. However, my keyword selection process is already
going to make this page one of the longest on our whole site, so I had better save some room and get right to the
point. Before you start the process though, I suggest that you read all of the following terms, even if you
already know what most of them mean.
SEO terms you might want to review for this step:
Keyword tips for finding your most profitable keywords.
- Grab a piece of paper & a pen. (A text file or word doc will do fine as well.) Title this
page your "Seed list." Put your mind to work thinking about the word phrases that people will
most likely use to search for your services. Write them all down, but don't worry about variations on
a single theme yet. The goal here is to get all of the different WORDS (not keywords) down that can be
used to match your description.
- When done with that preliminary listing of seed words, let's add to it by grabbing the keywords from your
competitors' websites. They've gone through the trouble to place them on their pages to get found, but that doesn't
mean they OWN those words... This is clearly a competition! So let's go grab those keywords too and include them in
our initial batch. Here's how:
Simply search likely keywords in Google. (Or another Search Engine if you want to compete in that one
instead.) Try the five best keyword phrases that you can think of that people would search to find your
services. Once on the search results page, only search the pages that are your site's COMPETITION, not
just the other sites involved with your industry, which aren't quite relevant yet. Once found, you might ask,
how do we find out what the keywords they are competing for are? Simply click "View," then "Source" (Internet
Explorer) or "Page Source" on your browser's menu bar (Netscape/Mozilla) to open up a text file showing
you their page's source code. In their Meta Tags near the top of their code page, (assuming they have
any META Tags) one tag in particular will look like this:
<META Description="Keywords" Contents="Keyword one, keyword two, and keyword number three, etc..">
If they know what they are doing, then you should see around five keyword phrases, separated by a
comma-and-a-space inside their final quotation marks on that line. It doesn't matter how many though,
you want as many words as possible for this part, and it will actually be easier to compete with people
who entered in too many keywords here. So write them all down in your seed list, from each
site you find that competes with yours. You're going to start your keyword generation process with this
list, but it doesn't mean any of these verbatim words will wind up being your keywords. Some might, but
you never know which ones. When you feel that you have gotten a deep & wide sampling of all likely words
from every corner of your industry or topic, you're ready to start the actual generation process.
Section One shortcut:|
If you'd like to pay a service to do much of the following work for you, with even better quality that the
overture database you'll use can producce, I can highly recommend Wordtracker's Keyword Generation Service.
Although Wordtracker offers a unique and powerful generation process, you can do a better job of finding
the 'perfect' keywords yourself by following the manual process on this page. (NOT a paid keyword service.)
Although not exactly free, Wordtracker can save you tons
of time. If you do use their service, at least scan the rest of the page below to properly
understand this section, which is the foundation for SEO in general. (Although you won't have to do anything
until the next section.)
- Create a spreadsheet in the format of your choice with 5 vertical columns named: 'Keywords,' 'Demand,'
'Supply,' 'Ratio,' & 'Links.' Or you can use our database template
in MS-Excel format by clicking here. (24 kb download) Call it your "Keyword Database." You'll be
using this database in just about every section of this process!
- Choose an automatic or manual creation process: (Both are free)
- If you want to use a free tool to speed up the generation process, you now have two
choices. Phil Tanny at Links-for-you.com has added a couple of great free tools recently, & one of them, his
Brainstormer' at Keyword-for-you.com, is an online tool to help you do this. After you use it, simply
cut and paste his results into your Keyword Database.
An easier method may be however to downlaod and install IBP and take advantage of their "Keyword Generation" tool. IBP is a very
useful freeware program that will output to a Database like Excel or .cvs format, so I highly recommend
loading it on your PC now, as it may come in handy later on. For both tools, while highlighting the
Overture results for transfer, don't forget to make sure that you highlight the numbers beside
the keywords too! When finished, export the database to your desktop and you can use it's contents to
start your keyword database. (Just copy the first two columns and paste them in yours.)
- If you prefer to do things the old fashioned way, simply go to
and enter your seed list, pulling out the relevant keyword results one at a time, cutting and
pasting them and your Keyword Database.
- Using either method, build up a list of as many keywords as you can. Don't be
concerned with pluralized words, Google and most others don't use the "s" at the end of a keyword for
simplicity's sake. However, the other suffixes, -ed, -ing, -er, etc., all create separate words in the
eyes of the Search Engines... Place each version of your phrase on new line, as separate keywords.
You never know what state of mind your searchers will be in when they are at a search prompt.
- Use any additional tools you might find helpful from our Keyword generation tools page that might help you better find keywords
in your market niche, to top off your list. When you are finished, you'll have all the keywords out there
in one form or another that are relevant to your website theme.
- Got a huge list? More than you expected? Great. Some topics require as few as 50 or so keywords by this
point, but more commonly you'll have 250-500 keywords built up. Now let's narrow them down. Time to do a
relativity scan. One by one, look down the list and ask yourself:
When you make it to the bottom of you list, it should be a good bit shorter, depending on how diligent you
were at choosing your keywords out of overture. Hopefully it is much more manageable now, but not too short.
- (If you are more concerned with traffic than targeting) "If a person I would want
to visit my website (for any reason) would use this phrase to search for something similar to my
- (If you want better-targeted traffic, meaning less traffic, but those who do
come are more likely to buy) ask yourself this: "If I were looking to learn about my product or
service, could I possibly use this keyword phrase to search for it?"
- Search each keyword phrase, put within quotation marks, in Google. At the upper right of the main
column in a results page, you'll then see a number telling you how many results were found:
(Ex: "Results 1 - 10 of about 910,000")
- Write the resulting number (just the 910,000 part) down in the "Supply" column of your keyword
database beside its' keyword. I know it's a long process, but this is the longest step, and trust me, it's
worth it! Hopefully someone out there has programmed a simple tool to find these numbers faster and will share
it with us. (Hint hint, helpful programmers!)
- Now that you have the Supply & Demand for each number, the rest is easy. Since more demand is
a good thing, but more supply is bad, then you are looking for the keywords with a supply that is equal
or smaller than its' demand. In fact, ideally, you will find lots of phrases where the demand is 5 to 10
times the supply, and fill your website with those words. But the more fiercely your topic is competed
for, the harder it is going to be to find these high-demand-low-supply keywords. If you can't find any
at all, you know that it's time to seek out a deeper niche. How to sort these results easily? Open up
your Keyword database and do the following simple formula:
- You can set up a formula in Microsoft Excel to calculate the ratio for you.
Assuming your keyword is on row 4, your Demand column is C, your Supply column is D, and your
Ratio results are on column E, then the formula looks like:
" =C4/D4 " in cell E4. Round your answer to 2 decimal points.
- In other spreadsheet software, look up their mathematical formulas to divide the
D4 cell into the C4 cell. It's just a matter of dividing the supply into the demand.
- If you're doing it all on paper or in your head, just divide the supply into
the demand for each keyword. You're looking for a number of 1 or larger.
- When you've finished all of your calculations, sort by the Ratio Column, (E) with the largest
number at top. Now go down to the point where the numbers turn from 1 into 0.something, add a row
between them, and color it red... Everything below the red line is "unprofitable," and everything above
is "profitable." (In theory, at least.) The words toward the top are the easiest to "win" with in the
search engines, but we're not finished just yet.
- Now select all of the profitable keywords' rows. They are not sorted in the order of best to use yet,
only the order of how easy it is to win them. To fix this, simply re-sort just those rows by the Demand
again, with the largest number at top. That puts the more desirable of the winners at the top. You're almost
- Assuming you've got a list of at least 10 or more profitable words now, all with a ratio above 1:1, sorted
by demand, Start with the very top one and consider making it your website's new "theme" word.
You will be placing it on as many pages of the site as you can, and anywhere else you can get away with.
(Such as in the text for incoming links.) Of course, it has to be relevant enough, so perhaps you'll do
better with the 2nd or 3rd most profitable word on the list... I'll leave that to your judgment. But
whichever you go with, you must choose the five most relative keywords from the list of most profitable
keywords for each of your pages that you will optimize. (Landing or main content pages.) Write those
five keyword phrases down on a sheet of paper for each page you optimize. It is fine for a few keyword phrases to
be repeated on other pages too, but the fewer overlaps, the better. The first Keyword is
special though, & it will be repeated more than the others, so this, your 'primary keyword' should be
highlighted on your list so that you know to use it more once you get into Keyword positioning, in Section
#7. In fact, the five chosen keywords for each page will be continually referred to in the majority of the
sections from here on out, so spend the time now to do them right!
That does it for the steps of section one. You should now have
all your keywords taken care of for your whole SEO project just by following the steps above. You can keep
reading on this topic below for some more helpful tips & strategy, but if you're in a hurry to continue, you
can click the big link at the bottom or above on section #2 of the menu bar now.
IDEAL Keyword Selection criteria for SEO:
High relevancy. It should be
what the people who are looking for your product or services would think to enter into a Search Engine.
High Demand. The number of
people who searched this term last month, naturally more is better, and more keywords with more demand
is best. (Stay to 5 per page though!)
Low supply. The number of other
Websites using that Keyword currently. Try not to compete with too many!
High S/D Ratio. Your Keyword's
demand divided by its' supply. The higher your PageRank, the lower this number can be. Still, try to
stay at a Ratio of at least 1:1 for any new words you add. (Lower is OK with higher PageRank.)
Why the Keyword Generation process is so important in SEO
A website can't rank any higher than the keywords it
is competing for. I've said it before, but I can't stress it enough: If you don't do a good job
selecting your keywords, then you've sabotaged every step afterwards. This is because when you get right down
to it, Keywords are the only thing that you are competing for. Your website is the battleground on which you
fight for your right to represent that keyword on the web. Sure, you can 'battle for' multiple keywords at once,
but the more a site is optimized to compete for a particular keyword, then the more likely that the Search
Engines will award you the prize of its' traffic.
With the completion of this section, your battle has
officially begun. Like all battles, there are competitors, rules, time limits, spoils of war, winners,
and losers. Not to worry though, if you learn the rules and stay within the limits, we'll guide you
through unharmed. Building this keyword database and choosing your 5 words to compete with for each page
is like building the weapons back at your fort before you ever set out for the battlefield. Make sure
that your weapons are more powerful than those of your competitors.
Wondering about the "Links Needed" column in your database?
In Section #10 we will deal with building your link
popularity and PageRank by using a link exchange program. This is really important for your competition
for each keyword, so you'll be using this column at that point, when we have to figure out how many
incoming links you'll need to be the most popular for each keyword. Just try to ignore it for now though,
you've got to take each step in stride, because there are more important things to do first.
Why everyone can compete using SEO
Many people ask me why they can compete against the
others in their industry, no matter how tough the competition is. It seems impossible, right? How can
a very large, competitive industry allow any new competitors? I didn't have an answer for them when I
first started, but I feel pretty foolish now. It's quite simple... There are near-infinite keywords!
Once you have generated a big list of keywords for your topic, you'll see that there's never a time when
there are none below 1:1... No matter how many businesses compete over a keyword, there will always be
searchers adding more Keywords to the search pile, and new keywords always start off profitable. Always.
Even if it only has a demand of twenty, that's twenty free customers for the new guy who grabs it first
and optimizes his site to it.
Over time, your site will likely need adjusting to
stay optimized to the most profitable keywords. It's true, this is a never-ending process simply because
the terms that people use in modern culture are ever-changing. One day we refer to violent, crazy people
as "Postal employees" and the next we refer to them as "Bin Ladens." Pop culture is directly responsible
for all of the final forms of any given search phrases that aren't verbatim names. You can't know what
will be the next popular keyword for your industry, so don't worry about it too much. Perhaps you should
just watch them change month by month, and only trade them out on your site when a really good one comes
along. Trading them too often is very hard work, so if you plan to do it monthly, make sure you've got a
lot of time on your hands, or can hire someone else that does.
On a related topic, I've found this great keyword
tool (162 kb download) that shows you what people are searching for LIVE. It's fun to watch, but it's only practical
value to SEO is for those who are watching Keywords weekly or even daily to see if they should change
their site to match the latest find... A bit more work than I'd like to do.
Advanced keyword tips / strategies
Naturally, there are many variations of the methods
I've described above. We have tried to put this together to suit the needs of the many, which of
course means that we left out any specializations for the few that can benefit from them. However, a
common situation that I can give an advanced keyword tip for is one where a small number
of profitable keywords can be found, but the pages on the site are so many that most or all keywords
must be repeated. This isn't uncommon at all, and I want to remind you all first that it's just fine to
repeat keywords from page to page. Just don't put all five in the same order on more than one page. If
one page using "keyword X" is pointed to from another page using keyword X as well, it only strengthens
the first page's pagerank. So don't clone your keywords' order, but do try to use them as often as they are
It is a sound strategy to use five keywords per page,
in a different order on each of five pages, making a different one of them the primary keyword for one
page each. So 50 pages would only need 50 keywords to be done perfectly, each one having a different
primary keyword and the rest jumbled as your site needs to match them to the content. As long as the
relevancy is there, that would 'saturate' those keywords wonderfully.
Our final word on Keywords
ION takes very seriously the business of Keyword
selection. In fact, it is in effect our specialty, and we pride ourselves for the level of
relevance that we add to the process for each and every keyword considered. The SEO tools we link to above
and also offer on the accompanying SEO Tools page are excellent
for what they do, and each is really optimized for a different target audience. However, they are all just
programs, none have human help behind them. Keep in mind that you will be the only thing deciding how relevant
each keyword is, and that's the most important step in the whole selection process. No pressure, just remember
that your brains is ultimately the core of the process, and that will never be improved on.
Our second section will show you exactly how to choose your own, optimal server host. If you haven't decided
for sure about your host server yet, you'll really be glad I wrote the next page. If you feel confident with
your host server though, you are the one we really wrote the page for, as there is much hidden to be learned
about on that topic!
Click here to continue on to Section Two
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