So let’s cover the basics first: What exactly is a keyword? A keyword is a word or search term that someone types into Google, Bing or any other search engine when they’re looking for information online. This (hopefully) directs users to information relevant to their search and ultimately to your site. Any keywords you use within your website should obviously be related to the content, products, etc. found on your site. For example, if you own a custom coffee mug business called, Chipper’s Coffee Mugs, a valuable keyword would be “custom coffee mugs.” There will never just be one keyword for your site, but there will be handfuls of words that are more valuable to you than others. And, if you pick/use the best keywords and keyword tools (that are kind of a big deal), customers will come. Here’s how:

What Makes a Good Keyword?

Value: There are lots of different factors that’ll tell you how valuable a keyword is. All of this data can be found from the Google Adwords Keyword Tool amongst others. There’s usually a nice sweet spot with all of these value factors, which makes it easier to pick the best keywords. Just like with everything in life, there will always be a little booger of a keyword that doesn’t fit the bill perfectly. We suggest using your best judgement on how to blend the values to pick the best keyword.

Impressions: An impression is when a keyword shows up in the SERP (search engine results page). One-word keywords will have much higher impressions, but are usually not the best keywords to go with. Think of one-word keywords as being the big fish in the sea; it would feed your family for a month, but is impossible to catch because there are millions of other fishermen in the water. On the other hand, you don’t want to spend too much time trying to catch a keyword with no or little impressions.

Competition/ Difficulty: This is a statistic that tells you how many other people/companies/sites are competing against you for a particular keyword. Sometimes this is a stat that can be a little misleading. If you type in the term: “Facebook” on the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, you’ll get this result: Competition: Low. Monthly Searches: 3.7 billion. This means, there aren’t very many websites or companies using “Facebook” as a keyword, however, 3.7 billion people are searching for it on a monthly basis! Holy search volume BATMAN! Before you jump to the conclusion that you need to pick the keyword, “Facebook,” you have to use your noodle. This is a prime example of where the competition stat is a misleading. “Facebook” is a great keyword to start with, make it the head of your keyword, and then find a longer tail search. A longer what?

Long Tail… Like a Giraffe? This certainly sounds like a funny term, but it has a lot to do with keywords. Having the right amount of tail on your keyword can go a long way for your business. There are a few parts of a keyword. The head, middle and tail. Let’s revisit the Chipper’s Coffee Mugs website scenario. Here’s an example keyword: custom coffee mugs. The head portion doesn’t have to be right at the beginning of the keyword. In this case the head of this keyword is “coffee,” the middle is “coffee mugs” and the long tail is “custom coffee mugs.”

Head: coffee

Now don’t get us wrong it would be awesome if you could rank well in the SERPs for “coffee,” but that might not be the best keyword for a custom coffee mug business. If you think about it, people searching for “coffee” might also be looking for the closest place to get their caffeine fix, not necessarily how to obtain the coolest new custom mug.

Middle: coffee mugs

Now we’re getting closer to that great keyword! We’ve narrowed it down from just coffee, to what you put the coffee in, which happens to be what you sell. Now these middle ground keywords are relevant to your business, but they’re highly competitive keywords.

Long Tail: Custom coffee mugs

This is the keyword sweet spot. It combines the right amount of search volume without being too competitive and is also highly relevant to your business.

Can your tail be too long? Yep! Here’s an example of an overly long tail: black custom coffee mugs with lid – Talk about getting down to the details! While we would imagine the conversion rate would be pretty high, but there may not be many searches on Google for this overly long keyword.

Wondering how to research keywords? There are tools for that! Google’s AdWords Tool is the industry standard, but there are plenty others that have lots of value! Mix and match the tools until you find the best ones that work for you.

Free Keyword Research Tools

Google AdWords Tool– The industry standard for keyword data.

Google Trends– Another cool tool from Google that compares how certain keywords are trending.

Scribe WordPress Plugin– A useful built in keyword tool if you run a site on

Microsoft Advertising Intelligence– Similar to Google’s tool, but for Bing.


Paid(ish) Keyword Research Tools

Pro SEOmoz Keyword Analysis Tool- This is a great keyword tool if you already have a Pro SEOmoz Account.

Other Keyword Research Ideas

These aren’t mainstream methods for keyword discovery, but they might get your brain wheels churning in the right direction:

Google Instant– This is what Google suggests for the searcher when they start typing in theory search term. This is a great tool to use for blog post ideas because everything Google suggests is highly topical or has been recently been searched.


Google Related Searches: These are searches that Google will display after a traditional SERP has been displayed. This will usually be longer tail keywords.

Now, you should be seeing the value in having some long(er) tail keywords in your keyword mix. Know of any keyword tools we may have missed, or do you have a tool mixture that works well for you? Let us hear it in the comments.

© 2013 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

Related Blogs

Ready to apply what you've
learned about Email