Keyword Research 101

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Keywords? Keyword research? Why? How? Huh? Today, let’s talk about what keywords are, why you need to perform good keyword research, and HOW to do that research. Understanding keywords is crucial to having a successful web page (such as a Squidoo lens), but how does it all work?

Keyword Research – From the Beginning

When people come online and want to find out information, they will go to some sort of search tool. These search tools are referred to as search engines. Common search engines are Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, AOL. I have no doubt that you have used a search engine many times – you may have actually used one to find this page you are reading right now =)

The words you typed into the search bar of the search engine are called keywords. Keywords are the word or the phrase that people use to find the information they are looking for through a search engine.

The Importance of Knowing Your Keywords

Here are some internet usage stats for you. There are 1.4 BILLION internet users in the world – that accounts for only 21-22% of the population (naturally, this number will increase). Research shows that 84-85% of internet users will use a search engine to find the information, websites, or products they are looking for.

84-85% of 1.4 BILLION people are using a search engine to find information online – to find information YOU put online.

Now, there are a LOT of search engines available online, but there are only a few that are considered the big players in the search business. Out of all the searches performed online, 77-78% will use Google.

What does that mean to you and your web page? That means this:

For every 100 people that are looking for information you create and put online, 77 or 78 of them will try and find your information via one source… through Google.

Understanding Google

I’ll be honest with you, trying to understand Google is kind of like trying to understand your spouse =) Yes, day to day, you ‘get’ them…. but sometimes they totally throw you for a loop!

Exactly HOW Google works will never be made public… and how it all works is very complex. Simply put, Google is a computer program that has ways of ‘reading’ a web page, deciding what it is about, and then ranking it in the Google index. There are BILLIONS of web pages in the Google index. (Just for fun, go to Google and search for: .com – There are 25.5 BILLION pages that are in the Google index as a .com or have .com on their web page!) The pages that are in the Google index change in quantity constantly. The Google index is highly dynamic and ever-changing… just the nature of the beast.

When creating content online (ie, writing a web page, making a Squidoo lens, writing an article, etc), you will need to learn how to ‘tell’ the search engine what your page is about.

Enter Keywords

Remember that the search engines read your page with a computer program (also called a spider, or bot, or crawler etc). These programs read your page, but they don’t see pictures or videos — they read words. The words you put on your web page, and WHERE you put those words, help the search engines understand what your web page is about. In turn, when an internet user types their search words in Google search, your page will be returned for them to see. The closer to the top of a ‘answer’ from Google your web page sits, the more likely an internet user will click thru and read your page. ( The pages that are returned for a search engine search are called Search Engine Results Pages – or SERPs – and where your page sits on those pages is called your ranking. If your web page is returned as the first ‘answer’ from Google, you have a #1 ranking)

Remember all those 77-78 people out of the hundred that are looking for your information? Research shows that folks searching for information on Google will only look at the first page of ‘answers’ – maybe two. Therefor, in order to get the most of those 77-78 people to see your web page, you need to have your web page ranking as close to #1 as possible for best results and more organic traffic to your web page. Organic traffic is free traffic that finds your web page via a search engine. Organic traffic is good… no, it is GREAT. Organic traffic means you have a web page that is working for you. While you sleep, work on other things, golf, or hang out with the family – the search engines are still sending traffic to your web page.

Because the search engine bots are computers, they read your words fairly literally. Meaning, they don’t understand reference or implication. If you type, “It ran up the tree”, the bot does not know what ‘it’ is. However, if you type, “The cat ran up the tree”, the bot gets what you are talking about. Your goal is to make it clear to the search engines what your page is about while not messing up the user experience for your readers.

How Do I Know What Keywords To Use?

Wouldn’t it be cool if you knew what internet users were looking for online? And cooler yet, what exact words they were typing into Google to find it?

You can.

This is called keyword research. There are many tools available that can show you words that users are searching for, how many times a day they are typed into Google each day, and other phrases like it that searchers are using. By finding the words that people are really looking for, and having these words on your web page, you can greatly improve your chances of getting more organic traffic to your web page.

The Goal of Keyword Research

The main goal of keyword research is to find words and phrases related to your topic that internet users are using, and have these be phrases that don’t already have a large amount of web pages already in the Google index. For example, if you want to rank in Google for the phrase black bag, a Google search will show you that there are already 5.1 million web pages in their index that rank for that phrase. Also, black bag is very broad…. what kind of black bag? Be more specific. What about black bowling bag? A Google search for black bowling bag has just a little over 1 million pages for that keyword phrase. Now we’re getting somewhere. However, 1 million pages is still a lot of pages to be competing with – and we don’t even know if people online are looking for a black bowling bag.

While that was just an example off the top of my head, that was an idea of how this is going to work. The typical searcher online will use 3-4 words to search for the information they need. Internet users are getting smarter as the internet matures. They know that if they want to find a black bowling bag that they will not get the search results they want by simply typing bag into Google…. or even by typing black bag into Google. They will at least type black bowling bag into their search… probably even more descriptive such as black bowling ball bag, or discount black bowling bags. You get the idea so I can stop with the bowling bag thing now…haha!

Your goal with keyword research is to:

  • Find the words people are using in Google to find information about your topic – these are your keywords.
  • Use the keywords you find that have the least amount of competition in Google so you have a better chance of ranking at the top for a Google search – you will do this with your keyword research.
  • Give the searcher who clicks thru to your page the information they were actually looking for. In the long run, you still have to have quality content for your web page to be successful AFTER a searcher gets there.

Keyword Research For Squidoo Lenses is getting to be a very large website. Many topics have been covered – and many topics have numerous lenses covering it. Google will only return two Squidoo lenses for a search request on the same topic. Proper keyword research, and proper use of those keywords, can give your lens an ‘edge’ that leads to more organic traffic.

If you are creating a Squidoo lens, you will take these steps:

1) Decide what your page will be about. Like the lens on a camera, your Squidoo lens will focus in on a subject. Don’t be all over the place… pick a topic.

2) Perform Keyword Research to decide HOW to word your content on your lens and where to put your keywords on your lens for best results.

3) Create good, unique content on the subject. Keywords will help get your lens found – relevant, useful content will help your lens be successful.

How Do I Do Keyword Research?

While typing this post, I tried very hard to go back in time and remember the things I didn’t understand when I first came into internet marketing. Hopefully, for those that are in that place right now, this post was a helpful introduction to how keywords work and why you need them. However, this post has become VERY long! So How To Do Keyword Research will be the topic of another post here at – stay tuned!

(Note: when that post is made I will link to it here)
Added 6-18-2008

How to Get The Right Keywords for Your Squidoo Lens

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