How to Determine SEO Keywords For Your Website
There are five ways to figure out the best SEO keywords for your website: (1) intuition; (2) asking potential customers what they would type into Google to find a company like yours; (3) using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner; (4) capitalizing on your competitors’ hard work; and (5) running a PPC campaign.
Let’s break each one down:
The place to start when determining keywords is with your own intuition. Your conclusions could turn out to be off the mark down the road, but it’s often more accurate than you’d think. After all, presumably you know quite a lot about the business you own or work for. Here is the question to ask yourself: “If I were a potential customer, what would I type into Google to find what my company sells?”
Let’s look at the example of a wealth manager. The target clients of a wealth managers are likely to be established people, probably in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. It’s a good bet they’re slightly less sophisticated with Google than the average, say, 20 year old. Let’s imagine one of those people. We’ll call her Betty, and she is a 58 year old mother of two who lives in Los Angeles and has been married 30 years. (It’s not important how long she has been married or how many kids she has, but I’m trying to get into character here.) Betty has been using the same wealth manager for decades, who was originally introduced to her by her father. As she gets closer to retirement, she’s starting to think more about how much money she’ll have to live on, and lately she hasn’t been impressed with her returns. It may be time for a change, she thinks. What might she type into Google to find a new wealth manager? I’m thinking something like “wealth management firm” “wealth advisory firm” or “best wealth manager in los angeles.” I don’t know why, I just picture Betty typing in those things. And for that reason, they’re a fine starting point.
Now let’s consider the second place to go searching for keywords: asking potential customers. I might talk to an aunt of mine at family gathering, or a neighbor I pass while walking my dog. “Hey Sharon, do you mind if I trouble you with a quick business question? I’m about to do some search engine marketing for my company,” I’d say. “Essentially, if you were looking for someone to manage your money, what would you type into Google?”
“Hmm” Sharon replies. “I suppose I would type in ‘financial planner.’”
“Oh, that’s good. Thanks very much,” I say, and I’m on my way so as not to ask too much of a woman who is trying to get her dog to pee.
Now I’ve got four keywords, including one I hadn’t thought too much about. I always call this kind of thing “wealth management” or “wealth advisory.” But apparently, some people use the term “financial planner” more readily. Good to know.
Next, I hop onto the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. This is where most marketers would start, but once you experience the Keyword Planner, it’s hard to forget its suggestions. And the thing is, the Keyword Planner does not always suggest the best keywords. It can be fairly weak with long tail keywords and its estimates of the number of searches per month are inaccurate. Still, it’s a great tool.
Typing “wealth manager” into Google, I learn of a few additional keywords that might be good to target:
“top wealth management firm”
“wealth management services”
“wealth management advisor”
I’m especially glad I used the Keyword Planner because of the first one. “Top” strikes me as an excellent word to include in a keyword phrase because it’s the type of thing that many educated individuals type in when searching for best-in-class professional service firms. By the time I’m finished perusing Google’s free tool, I feel like I have a handle on some excellent keywords for my website.
Now it’s time to consult two real life, experience-tested methods. The first is competitors’ title tags. Any competitor that knows a lick about SEO will have their best keywords in the meta title tags of their home page, main service pages, and other prominent landing pages. These title tags are not just a collection of 70 or so characters; they’re the product of lots of time and money spent in determining the best possible keywords for their most precious pages. In that way, they’re a gift to me. By combing through competitors’ title tags (which you don’t even have to leave the Google results to do, since Google makes a site’s title tag into the blue heading of its Google listing), I discover the following:
- “Top” and “best” are confirmed as two great descriptors to add into my keyword phrases
- “Investment management” seems to be another popular term that firms target
- Some people feel the word “private” – as in “private wealth management firm” – is important
At this point, I’m armed with what I believe are the best of the keywords within the wealth management field. However, as a final, real-life test, I am going to spend a few hundred dollars running a PPC campaign to test which keywords are most effective with real potential customers.
In my test, I find that “wealth management firm” + different areas of Los Angeles (west hollywood, beverly hills, malibu) are my highest converting terms, as is “top financial planner.” Equipped with 10-20 excellent keywords, I can now start implementing them in my title tags and building targeted landing pages for each one.
Evan Bailyn is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership.