So here we are, at arguably the most interesting – and certainly the most strategic -part of search engine optimisation.

We’re at the keyphrase selection stage – identifying those keyphrases which are going to get you top rankings and lead to more business.

Finding these gems then optimising our site and content around them can have a dramatic affect on our fortunes. We’ll discuss where to put them in your website in future lessons but right now we’ll concentrate on finding good ones. The ones people are typing in to Google and the also rans (only kidding Yahoo!) to find our products and services.

It’s a two stage process which roughly equates to taxing our right brain then left brain:-

1. Identifying a list of relevant keyphrases
2. Analysis and shortlisting the best keyphrases

All the time we will be focusing on three variables – these are relevance, how relevant is a search term to what we are selling or providing. Popularity, how many times per day are people using this keyphrase, and competition – how many web pages out there include this key phrase.

The relevance one is quite interesting; what we think people type into find us and what they actually type in are quite often substantially different. Imagine the manager of the Hilton Hotel in Paris suggesting search terms to his web site designer – not an enviable task. (Yikes! I’ve just inadvertently added to the already 17,100,000 pages out there containing the keyphrase Paris and Hilton). So the manager may have a little competition on his hands as well as relevance issues.

Perhaps a less extreme example is where a client considered ‘groundcare equipment’ a relevant keyphrase when in fact people were typing in ‘lawnmowers’, ‘strimmers’,’rotavators’ etc – ‘groundcare equipment’ was a term they used internally to collectively describe the product category. So it needs some thought. The backstop of course is to type these phrases into search engines and see what sites actually get listed.

So lets start stage one of the process, how can we generate a starting list of potential gems? Here’s a few suggestions:-

Brainstorm with your self and others you work with

– Look at what competitors use (‘view’; ‘source’ then see the meta data and visible text)

– Any brand names or generic product types which are relevant

– Take you mates down the pub and ask them what they would type in to find you

– You could even ask your customers and suppliers

Hint/Tip – quite often thinking of markets rather than products can be beneficial – eg ‘vitamin pills for vegetarians’ rather than ‘ vitamin c pills’ – will generate less hits but probably more well qualified and likely to buy prospects.

– Here’s a useful tool for you to try courtesy of Google – Google Suggest.
If you go to and start typing in your keyword suggestion, you will see that Google will try to guess what you are typing based on popularity. The numbers on the right hand side are the number of webpages containing the phrase and you can use the left hand side to identify keyphrases you may not have thought of.

Some of the tools we’ll discuss below and in subsequent lessons also will identify possible phrases ( in their thesaurus and lateralus).

How many words should there be in your keyphrases? – more than one (too general) and less than five (too specific). Most people nowadays are typing in two to three words to find your products and services.

How many keyphrases should you arrive at? – it depends on your industry sector and product portfolio but a good working number at this stage should be between ten to thirty. Remember – for each phrase you select we will need to optimise a web page for it – that is one page per keyphrase if you want to do it successfully.

Stage two is where we get more scientific and subject our list of potentials to a little rigour.

Here we are trying to address mainly the popularity and competition issues. Fortunately there are several tools out there to help with this. I’ll concentrate on the popular but I’ll introduce you to other tools and methods in later lessons (and in particular how to target specific UK traffic).

You can trial Wordtracker by offering your name and email address, you can also buy one day’s use ( for about £5). Either way it allows you to type in keyphrases you think may be useful from your list of potentials. It generates a whole load of useful stuff – you will see this and have it explained to you when you use it so I wont go in to the detail here. It is simple to use and the important thing is that for keyphrases you type in it will estimate the daily searches ( the ‘predict’ number) and also the number of competing web pages.

You will see that for each keyphrase you select it will generate a KEI ( Keyword Effectiveness Index) – essentially a number which is a measure of both the popularity and competition. What you are looking for is keyphrases with high KEI’s. These are the phrases which will give you high rankings in the search engines and more business (once you have optimised you site for them).

How high is a good KEI? – the bigger the better. I tend to focus on ones with a KEI greater than 40 for my clients. Wordtracker will tell you to forget ones less than 10 and consider ones above 400 a gift! ( if you can find one!)

Just to give you an indication of how valuable these KEIs can be here’s a little story about how they can potentially transform your fortunes.
I found one for a client of mine with a KEI of 28152!. This equates to around 4000 searches a day and only 800 competing web pages. Even my granny could get you number one on Google for this phrase.

I could hardly contain my excitement when I called my client to tell him about how I was going to make him rich.
He wasn’t excited. I asked him why.
‘I don’t sell used Honda engines’ he said.
So there you go – a great web business opportunity for one of you out there. Just remember to send me a Christmas card form Barbados with a ‘thank you Jan’. Send no cash unless you feel you have to.

More on keyphrases next time, in the meantime if you need any help don’t hesitate to call (01928 788100) or consider our excellent ‘Traffic Builder’ service.