Years ago, on a planet far far away, people used to optimize for keyword density. But as relevancy algorithms have improved people have moved away from keyword density and toward keyword diversity. Covering a broader net of closely related keywords on your pages yields a better chance to rank for some of the billions of unique keywords searched for each month.
One of my favorite keyword research tools to use before hitting the publish button is the Google search results. At a glance, you can quickly see:
- related keywords people search for
- related keywords competitors are optimizing for
- related keywords Google likes
Google Suggest automatically tries to complete search queries to list other keywords that people search for which contain those keywords.
Notice on how the following 2 images there are some relevant patterns amongst the keywords. These are likely good keywords to…
- include in your page title, OR
- include in your page copy, OR
- use as inspiration when making more targeted deeper pages
And since these are keywords that Google is choosing to show end users you know that some people are searching for them, Google thinks they are relevant, and some people who see the suggestions will search for what is being suggested.
Google Suggest pulls in related search data on the fly, so you can easily compare common variations of the plural and singular versions of a keyword in only a few seconds.
Analyzing page titles of ranked search results
Not every competitor is going to have a savvy search strategy, but those who do have search savvy often put their keywords and keyword modifiers directly into their page titles. Let their research help guide your own.
You can also look at the ad copy of AdWords ads to see what offers and ideas they are promoting. Who are they trying to appeal to? What makes their offer unique enough to stand out and pull in enough clicks to make it profitable enough to keep buying the ads?
At the bottom of the search results Google typically displays related search queries
In the left rail options panel Google has a Wonder Wheel option, which allows you to visually click through keyword variations to dig deeper.
The left rail also offers another related search option, which lists additional keywords.
Take it one step further
The good news is that many of the above features (or variations of them) are available from most search engines, so you can grab related keyword ideas from Bing, Ask, and Yahoo!. The reasons search engines try to push searchers to search on a consistent set of keywords are:
- due to few matching pages (and lots of search spam) organic search relevancy on the longtail is hard
- if people are searching more on the core keywords, that makes it much easier for advertisers to get in bidding wars on the most important keywords
Based on those two reasons, I expect search engines will only grow more aggressive at suggesting relevant keywords to searchers.
If you find following the strategy of one particular competitor consistently effective then you can look at their site and use a tool like Xenu Link Sleuth to crawl their website and see what other areas they are having success in that you may have missed.
Another option would be to download competitive research data from a tool like Compete.com, and then put those keywords into a rank checker to see if you are ranking well for them, or if you need to create content targeting them.
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