Keywords are in a nutshell (a very small one) the phrases that you think people are using in a search engine who you want to find your website. Clearly if you’re going to have much success rising up the search engine rankings, your website must be structured around them, ideally you with specific landing pages to target closely grouped sets of keywords – which happens naturally in some cases, but not in all cases. Plus the content of your site must have those keywords prominently in the appropriate positions: page name, page title, headings, links etc. etc. But how can you second guess what people are actually searching for on the web?

The answer is: you don’t have to. Use one of the free key word tools from WordTracker, or better still (with information from the most authoritative source) Google to do some research and find out what people are actually searching for on Google.

Here’s an example from our own website, WebSanity web design. We often ponder what potential customers are looking for on the web (!), for example, is it:

  1. web design
  2. website design
  3. or web site design?

Technically speaking option 2 is the ‘grammatically correct’ variation, but you never can tell. So let’s look at the results from Google’s Keyword tool (which will suggest other variations we might not even have thought of). Make sure you select the “phrase option” – that will select search volumes with the keywords above in them (but not exclusively, so it will include “rubbish web design” as well as “web design huntingdon“) and not some variations that it think might are useful to you (it’s all to do with AdWords). You could try exact match but that might be a bit over-restrictive. Then sort by average search volume…

So the clear winner is “web design”, “website design” is in there, but “web site design” is joint 5th place.

So the lesson is: we need to target the words we use on our website to use the phrase “web design” when referring to our web design services.

But take that with a pinch of salt. Lots of people ARE looking for “web site design”, so have a sprinkling on the target landing page, or if you have the time create a whole separate page about “web site design” it might be able to attract those people.

And another consequence of this is… look for some phrases down the list that you hadn’t thought of. “Web designer” in third seems pretty popular but we never use that phrase ourselves.. so let’s get it somewhere on the site; maybe a separate bio page about one of our web designers would help our search engine rankings?

In summary, don’t just guess at what people are searching for on the web: use the free keyword tool from Google and KNOW what they are searching for!