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Build Your Own Online Store, Part 5

Pick the best keywords for SEO and get your store found.

Want traffic to the new online store you just built? It’s simple! Just find the keywords your customers use to search for your business and weave them into the content on your Web store.

There’s no guarantee about how much traffic this will earn you, but doing this is absolutely worth your time. In this part of our Build Your Own Online Store series, we look at search engine optimization and driving traffic to your store.

Start with the best keyword tools

One of the most useful tools for finding the keywords you should target is not a keyword tool. It’s a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel.

Almost all keyword tools and analytics programs, including Google Analytics, allow you to download keyword data in the form of spreadsheets

Almost all keyword tools and analytics programs, including Google Analytics, allow you to download keyword data in the form of spreadsheets. If you do not have Microsoft Excel on your computer, you can get a free spreadsheet program at openoffice.org.

Being able to sift through spreadsheets is useful in keyword research and ecommerce in general. If you need to beef up your skills, you can find free lessons on how to use Excel on Excel is Fun.

Google keyword research tips

One of the most popular keyword tools is the one provided for Google AdWords, which is free and is the first result when you type in “keyword tool” in Google.

Getting to the tool via Google search is fast and free, but the results are not as robust as accessing the keyword tool through an AdWords account. Another thing to keep in mind is that the tool will slow you down with requests for captcha codes that are sometimes hard to read if you don’t access it through an AdWords account, so you may want to open one.

There is no minimum you must spend to use the keyword tool, so just having the account gives you access.

What to know about the free keyword tool in AdWords

You will need to check the box next to “Exact Match” when you use this research tool to only see how many people entered a term exactly as you have it

The keyword tool in AdWords was meant for AdWords ads. It wasn’t meant to gather data on organic traffic.

Keep in mind that the default search volume is set for a broad match. This represents any combination of search terms that would trigger an ad if you placed it in your AdWords account.

A simple one- or two-word broad match could generate hundreds of combinations of search terms, so you will need to check the box next to “Exact Match” when you use this research tool to only see how many people entered a term exactly as you have it.

You will know that you are looking at exact match results when you see brackets around the keywords. As you look at the results, you’ll notice high, medium and low competition rankings next to them. Don’t rely on these too much. Those rankings are for the competition levels in AdWords and do not have a high correlation to competition for organic rankings.

Most paid keyword tools created for organic keyword research offer indicators that help gauge the level of competition. All of those indicators would be more reliable than using the competition level AdWords provides.

Include keywords in your title and navigation

It’s important to determine the level of competition and value of your keyword because your Web space is real estate, and you want to put the most useful keywords in the right places.

The best real estate on your Web page is your title and navigation. Ideally, these should include keywords that have the highest search volume

The best real estate on your Web page is your title and navigation. Ideally, these should include keywords that have the highest search volume and will attract the visitors to your website who are the most likely to buy.

When I say “navigation,” I’m referring to the links on the top and sides of your Web store that lead to other pages on your site. Many site owners make design and uniformity a priority over SEO. In some cases, especially when the site receives much of its traffic from non-SEO related activities, that is a good choice.

But if you are getting little or no traffic from other than organic sources, you could gain lots of traffic by adding three- or four-word keyword combinations as the display text for your navigation links.

Now I will admit that, aesthetically, top-bar navigation with more than three words is offensive—even three is bad from a design perspective. But from an SEO perspective, the longer the search term, the lower the competition—and the more likely your term and your site are to show up in the results.

Meta titles are also important

The next most important area in which to include keywords is the meta title, which is best kept to less than 65 characters. You see, Google displays only the first 65 characters in search results.

Don’t try to fit every keyword that applies into your title in the meta title, though. It’s more important that you write a title that attracts people. A captivating title with one or two keywords is better than a ho-hum title that accommodates three or four keywords.

A captivating title with one or two keywords is better than a ho-hum title that accommodates three or four keywords

Next you have the meta description, which is best kept to less than 160 characters. That’s all that will display under your title as two lines in your listing on Google.

Again, quality is more important than quantity. You want to convince the person doing the search that you have what they are looking for in those two lines instead of loading them up with keywords.

The difference between ‘easy’ and ‘awesome’

Keyword research and placement in your website is absolutely the best way to attract free traffic to your site.

Your success depends on using the keyword tool correctly to gather the most relevant keywords and making sure the important keywords are in the title and within the content of your store pages. It’s best to target only one or two keywords per page and create content that serves the people who are searching for those keywords.

Once you start doing it you will be amazed at how easy the process is. But never forget that there is a difference between easy and awesome. Finding the right keywords and putting them in the right places is easy. Including them in clever, compelling copy that serves the visitor and sells your product is awesome.

Take another look at how to drive traffic to your listings by finding the right keywords and weaving them into your content.

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About the author

Kent Hinesley
Kent Hinesley is a consultant with Seo-for-chico.info. He specializes in helping local businesses take advantage of their best opportunities for increasing site traffic and conversions. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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