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Chapter 1: 100 Keywords for a Good Start

Firstly, I needn′t be too smart to know for sure:

  • You′ve got your website
  • You′re strongly determined to gain in popularity, build up a community, make money, etc.
  • Right in front of you, you have a great guide telling you how to do that

That′s quite enough for a good SEO start. And, here′s what you′ll find in this chapter:

Getting straight to the point, your first step is keyword research.

Never ever overlook this spadework. Though this step won′t appear interesting to do, I′ll give you a chance to make it as easy and fast as possible. And, here′s my word: this task is your first and biggest chance to launch a 100% winning SEO campaign.

Now come on, let′s make a flying start!

1.1 What? Why? When? How? And other questions to get started

The first thing you have to know is: No keyword research — no SEO.

Why? Because keywords are the cornerstones of SEO.

And, trying to promote a website without having the right keywords brings no results. See the image below. I guess the message is clear.

Select right keywords

It′s like trying to find a buried treasure without knowing where exactly it′s hidden. Think of a situation like this: you know there′re heaps of pure golden coins and shining diamonds buried on an island, but the old pirate map you have is half burnt, and you just can′t find the right place on it. So you can dig the ground as deep as you wish, but you won′t get a grain of gold.

Now what′s the bright side of it? The right keywords are the best investment in SEO. It′s the case when money doesn′t matter. Think of this: if you have 5 great keywords, your chances to make a fortune are huge. And if you have 5 thousand dollars, you still need the 5 great keywords. ;). Of course, the number can be bigger. You may just start with 5 and as your rankings improve and the website grows you′ll simply add more keywords and expand the campaign.

100% sure, with this guide you′ll pick out really good keywords, use them at really right time — and turn them into really big money. Once again, the thing I know for sure is: if you do what the book says, there′s no way to fail SEO. Now, don′t waste your time, go ahead!

So what′s a keyword for SEO?

This is a word people will type in Google, Yahoo! or other Search Engine to look for products or services they need and you offer.

Before I give you my example, meet my son Mike. His girlfriend gave him an iPod for his 19th birthday, 3 weeks ago.

Today Mike′s going to buy new headphones and makes a query in Google, typing in headphones. Now, if he sees your site at the very top of the Search Engine′s results page, this means that you rank first for the keyword headphones. Also, it means that Mike is much more likely to visit your site and buy from it, than from a competitor′s site that has a #4 ranking.

We can make queries using one or several words, like, headphones, iPod headphones or buy headphones. Terms for query that contain several words are sometimes called keyphrases. So iPod headphones is a two-keyword keyphrase.

So to get a #1 placement in Search Engines, the first and the most important step is to choose the right keywords and keyphrases for which you want to rank first.

Why do I call this step the most important?

I′m often asked: "Why think so much of keywords?"

The answer comes together with experience. Keywords are the crucial starting point of any SEO campaign. They are the material an SEO works with. Just like a cook can′t make an apple pie with wrong fruit, or a potter can′t make a plate with bad clay, an SEO can′t make a website succeed with wrong keywords.

Pick the good keywords, and you′re half-way to success. Get the wrong ones — and you′ll make a dog′s dinner of the whole campaign.

Here′s a real story:

For over 6 years, a friend of mine has been a webmaster of a big European online bookstore (you can guess the name easily, if you wish ;)). Quite long ago, he nearly failed a $90.000-worth optimizing campaign. Everything looked fine at a first glance: the site was ranking high for certain keyphrases, and the SEO department′s done a big job. But they just weren′t selling, because some words weren′t bringing traffic to the site, and others brought traffic but didn′t make sale or, SEO speaking, convert. You guess where the problem is? Yep, the keywords were wrong! Luckily, they had enough time to sort it out and save their bottoms.

You will need the results of this first step all way through

Sure, when you get done with this step, you won′t see any effect on your website′s traffic. But the keywords you′ll single out will be critical for the greater part of your future optimization work, be it on-page optimization, video syndication, guest blogging, social media activities, directories submit, or other. But let′s not leap ahead. I′ll put prior things first.

The simple truth about keywords

Now, I want to dwell upon one very important and rather contradictory thing. It′s about the length and composition of keyphrases. To make it all simpler, let′s use this scheme:

ROI (Return of investments)

What does ROI mean you may ask. Well, ROI (return on investment) — shows how much profit you′ve made compared to how much you′ve spent to get this profit. As you see, mid-size keyphrases give you maximum chances of quick profit.

Influence of keyword length on website′s conversion

When people make searches in Google or other Search Engines, most often they type in 2-word phrases, and just a bit less often 3-word phrases. 1-word phrases (or so-called short-tail keywords) make up less than 30% of searches on the web, and if the keyphrase is longer than 3 (so-called long-tail keywords), it gets fewer uses, with each word added.

So in general, if you choose long keyphrases, you′re getting less traffic.

But don′t jump to conclusions yet! Let′s first talk about targeted traffic.

Please think of this: if a person types in headphones, who can guess what exactly one expects to find? Say, my son is in fact interested in inexpensive headphones for running, and you sell professional stereo headphones. So Mike comes to your website, maybe thinks it′s well designed — and hits the back button in his browser.

But what if he were looking for 900 MHz wireless stereo headphones and would type it in Yahoo!? If you sell this kind of headphones, then your chances to get Mike as a purchaser would at least double — and this happens with any visitor.

Here′s what we call targeted traffic: people come to your website because they are looking for what you offer.

If they type in a search term, find your site, come to it and buy — this means that the search term they used converts.

If they come to your site after the search, look it through and leave — the keyword does not convert. You only get a visit, but not a sale.

So remember: you need keyphrases that convert.

Now look at the diagram once again. You see an arrow at the bottom and it says there "More targeted traffic and faster results". Here′s what this means: normally, the longer and the more precise your keyphrases are, the sooner you′ll get your traffic.

Why? Because it′s easier to optimize a site and rank for a unique phrase with little competition.

So here′s the summary: it′s rather hard and not wise to get to the top with a single-word or rather broad-sense keyphrase.

The longer and more precise your keyphrase is, the fewer visitors you get, but the more targeted your traffic is.

The narrower the search term you target, the greater part of visitors convert into real customers.

My recommendation is: try to find the golden mean. If you′re not sure, start with two- or three-word keyphrases that better reflect your customer′s needs.

Types of keywords

And before we start composing your initial list of keywords I′d like to explain the difference between the following keyword types:

  • Informational ("sony" for example) and
  • Transactional (like "sony headphones discount la")

When a user enters an informational keyword, you can′t say for sure what he′s driven by and what his intention is. He may be looking for a company description from Wikipedia, checking the range of Sony products, etc. Most important is the fact that he is NOT likely to buy something right now.

In contrast, with "sony headphones discount la"-type of keyword, you can be pretty sure that this user really wants to buy Sony headphones and is therefore looking for special offers in Los Angeles stores.

There are also mixed types of keywords like, for example "sony vs panasonic headphones reviews", which indicate that a user is interested in buying headphones, but hasn′t made up his mind yet. Such keywords provide a good opportunity to enrich your content and dilute the density of transactional keywords.

And now we′re going straight to keyword research.


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Comments page:
#1417 2010-08-18 15:06:39 eugenio balasa

super book

#1369 2010-07-27 00:34:12 Jaydeep Singh

Hey Guys,

I just started out, and like most other commenters I'me pretty new to the whole SEO game. My question is: What are the impacts of changing your website later after you have optimized it with the tools given through softwares. I.e I go back and do a whole redesign of the website, would it change the effects of my SEO campaign?

Also, given the earlier question, would it be better to redesign my website first then optimize or optimize first and then redesign(so that I could continually accumulate traffic as I work on the new design.)

p.s: The reason I want to change it, is because my Dad put some kind of crappy Yahoo template, and I'd rather use Wordpress for the website.

#1411 2010-08-18 07:24:16 Dan Richmond


the answer depends on the time frame really. If you are re-designing your site right now then you should concentrate on that and then do the onpage optimization. If you plan to redesign your site eventually in the future - perform the onpage optimization now and then just double check it. In fact optimizing your site now would make more sense as it would help you find the keyword densities optimal for ranking higher. Also please keep in mind that design does not matter much for optimization, - you can have different design but same title, headings, body text, bold text, anchors etc. So I would start optimizing the site now.

#1338 2010-06-29 21:59:24 Gabrielle Talley

I recently bought some keywords through a service that uses Market Samurai. I chose 3 that were between 2 - 3 words long. Got that taken care of and now have to work on optimization. Thanks for this info!

#1332 2010-06-23 02:49:54 Bruce Hoag, PhD, CPsychol

I disagree. By using the Google Keyword Tool, you can identify easily which long-tail keywords are receiving enough traffic to make them worth optimizing for. It's for this reason that there's no need to limit yourself to phrases with only two or three words in them.

Bruce Hoag, PhD, CPsychol
Work Psychologist

#1315 2010-06-15 09:28:05 Ben Lovegrove

Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools can show you what keyphrases people used that resulted in traffic to your site and which generated clicks, but only you will know if that traffic converted.

#1279 2010-05-24 02:58:25 cubitea cubi

I still have not learned to understand please let me know about

#1289 2010-05-28 07:02:55 Dan Richmond

What exactly is not clear? Please give some more details.

#1275 2010-05-18 08:58:53 Adeel Zahoor

hi dan,

i did lot of searching for learning SEO..but its one in only..

#1258 2010-05-13 10:59:02 Vijeta Aishwarya

Hi Dan
Above all, I would like to say thanks first to write such a wonderful book. I also want to thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences with us.

Sir, I have a great confusion about Pay Per Click and SEO.
How they are different from each other? Even i read the initial introduction and Ch.1 but still i am not able to clear. Can you explain it again for me in more simple way?
I have also doubt about ROI. is it possible to calculate in monetary term for any advertisement which displayed on goggle ad word, banner or any other tool of digital marketing.

#1290 2010-05-28 07:05:58 Dan Richmond

PPC puts a link to your site to the ad section of Google's results page. Once you stop paying your site disappears from there.

SEO gradually brings you up in the organic results section, nd you stay there for a long time.

#1159 2010-04-15 15:35:12 Lorraine Pierce

My site has been live for 3 years, but we just did a re-build and lost PR and several pages lower for our main keyword phrases. I think between this and the Link Assist tools I will end up with a better site, and better ranking. Thanks for putting together such a great book;)

Update: I used Website Auditor to analyze my home page. Made a few or the recommended changes to my meta keywords and description, title, and added one phrase to my header. Moved up 14 spots on google and 12 on yahoo by the next day!

#1291 2010-05-28 07:06:37 Dan Richmond

Nice :) Keep up the great work.

#1119 2010-03-29 13:21:59 Timothy Millar

Nice start, looking forward to many more pages. One thing,I believe you should only use keywords that are in your Copy,Is this the correct thinking on this?

#1129 2010-03-31 10:32:16 Dan Richmond

Not exactly. You should choose your keywords first, then write the copy optimized for these keywords. Then also use these keywords in anchor texts of incoming links. Read on and you will understand what I am talking about.

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