by John Eberhard

Keywords are an important subject when doing just about any marketing on the Internet. These are words or phrases that people are going to be typing into the various search engines.

You have to know what the best keywords are to use, when you are doing search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, blogging, article marketing, or sending out optimized press releases. Each of these activities is more effective when you have the properly targeted keyword phrases to use.

So it’s important not only to know what keywords to use, but you also have to be aware that the kinds of keywords you need to use will be different for different purposes.

The Big Picture

The first thing to know about keywords is that you have to select keywords or keyword phrases that have a lot of people searching for them. This may seem obvious but I have talked to people who had selected keywords and thought those were the keywords to use but no idea what the traffic was for them. There are several good tools to find out keyword traffic, including online services Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery, and software such as Market Samurai.

The next thing to know is that at the beginning of the search cycle, people type in more general keywords, either single words or phrases that describe the whole category of thing hey are searching for, such as “MP3 player.” Then after they have done some initial searches and learned a bit about the category, they will then enter more specific phrases, such as “ipod mp3 player.” Then as they are getting ready to buy, they will enter even more specific phrases describing the specific product they want to buy, such as “ipod nano 4GB.” Note that this final, third phase is the time when the person is most likely to BUY. At that point he is usually looking for places where he can buy the product and comparing prices.

Keywords that are from this third phase of the searching cycle, are most descriptive and which tend to be 2-4 words or more are called “long tail” keywords. These keywords are not only usually easier to have your site rank for them, they tend to be the phrases the person types in when he is closest to being ready to buy.

Most people who I talk to who are not trained in these facts tend to think that they want to target keywords that describe the overall category, usually single word keywords, like “golf,” “consulting,” “dentist,” “chiropractor,” “marketing,” “computers,” etc. Although these single word keywords tend to have lots of searches, people typing them in are not usually at the buying point in the whole search cycle, and because of another factor which I’ll describe next, you won’t usually ever be able to rank well for them.


One of the facts of life is that there are usually fewer resources than there are people that want those resources. So it is with keywords. There are lots of companies trying to sell products on the Internet.

For the purposes of search engine optimization (SEO) and link building, you want keywords that don’t have too many sites that are competing for them. If the keyword phrase has too many sites competing for it, you just won’t be able to ever rank well on search engines for that keyword. Most single word keywords have tens of thousands or millions of sites competing for them.

The goal, when looking for keywords for SEO or link building, is to find keywords that have decent numbers of people typing them in, but low competition. I use Market Samurai software to find this information, and I look for keyword phrases that have less than 50,000 competing sites for them, and the lower the better.

Different Uses for Keywords

There are essentially two major uses for keywords, one is SEO and link building on one side, and pay per click advertising on the other.

With SEO and link building, you want to find keywords that have as high traffic as possible, and as low competition as possible. Then with SEO you want to put those keywords into the appropriate places on your website, and with link building, you want to use those keywords in your blog posts, press releases and articles. All of these actions are geared towards getting your site to rank well for those keywords and raise them up onto the first page of search results for those keywords. That gets you traffic from search engines.

For pay per click advertising (PPC), you want to select keywords with high traffic. But here you are not really concerned with how much competition there is for a keyword. And with PPC you want to choose both long tail keywords and more general keywords. PPC is a different animal and if you only choose long tail keywords you will probably not get enough traffic to make it worth your while. There is a lot to know about PPC and I’ve covered that in other articles and will continue to write more in the future.

Good luck with your keyword finding efforts.