Defining the priority search terms for your website

Last week I mentioned keyword mapping, which is the process of allocating your most important search terms to specific pages on your website. There were a few questions about this, so I thought it was worth talking about how to choose the important search terms in the first place.

For most people in niche areas such as engineering and science, defining your keyword list starts with your own ideas, looking at your own and your competitors’ websites, doing some Google searches and studying Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools). This should give you plenty to work with, and may well be quite sufficient. Talking to your sales team and to customers can also be useful: how do people actually describe things in real life?

If you want to put some numbers on things, data from your Google AdWords campaign can help, as can Google Search Console and the AdWords “Keyword Planner”. There are some online tools too, but don’t get too carried away. Compared to full-time SEO specialists, I find that most people actually working in technical sectors get 80% of the work done with 20% of the effort.

Once you’ve got a list of maybe 50 to 100 terms per broad product area, start to think about the opportunity you have. Do a Google search for each term and look at the number of competitors, both in the natural search results and in the adverts. Try to give each search term a mark out of 10 to represent what you’re up against. In a second column, have a go at estimating the relative volume of searches, again out of 10 (see above). Finally, allocate each term a score indicating its importance to your business.

Overall, you should now be able to prioritise the terms, and start allocating them to pages on your website. Many pages will end up covering multiple terms – don’t feel you need a separate page for “blue widget”, “blue widgets” and “blue widget suppliers”. Conversely, you’ll probably find a few terms which don’t have a home, and for which you’ll need to write a page. Then you can start to go through the pages and ensure they’re “optimised” for the searches that they’ve been allocated.

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