In the previous post, we looked at Google Insights and discussed some general brainstorming tips for coming up with a keyword list.
In this post, we’re ready to refine that list.
Google Keyword Tool
Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool is another personal favorite of mine. Free and comprehensive, it can give you a fairly good indication of what people are looking for (and what competitors are optimizing for).
How to Use the Keyword Tool for Solar SEO
Let’s go through an example and see the Keyword Tool in action.
Step 1. After coming up with a starter list (from brainstorming) and a more detailed list (from Google Insights), you’d insert your new keywords into the Keyword Tool to develop a more comprehensive list.
For now, we’ll just use the same example keyword, “solar training.” But you can add as many or as few keywords as you like. You can even insert a competitor’s website in the 2nd field to see what keywords it’s going after.
Step 2. Check the box that says “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms.” If you’re really desperate for new keyword ideas, you can leave this box unchecked. The results will be all over the place, but you may find some hidden gems.
Step 3. Under the expandable Advanced Option, I usually leave the default language and country alone. Unfortunately, if you’re a regional solar firm that only operates locally, you’re stuck using statistics at the national level.
Step 4. If you’re signed into AdWords, you can just hit “Search.” If you’re not signed in, you’ll need to fill out the security question (CAPTCHA) that shows you those distorted letters. And then hit “Search.”
What you’ll see is a dizzying list of keyword ideas, complete with:
- How competitive they are
- How many times that keyword has been searched in the past month
You can activate additional fields but clicking on the Columns pull-down menu in the upper right hand corner.
Selecting Your Solar Keywords
Your job is to go through these new ideas and select keywords that could help drive traffic and conversions.
I usually like to tackle the low hanging fruit first – keywords with high monthly searches and low competition. Optimizing for these keywords should be relatively easy since there aren’t many other sites going after them despite their popularity.
In our example, only one keyword stands out: “solar training Ontario.”
As a solar training school that offers courses all over the US, “solar training Ontario” doesn’t help us very much. But I might add it anyway if I believe some additional promotion could entice a few Canadians to come to our US solar training courses.
I wouldn’t necessarily build my entire SEO campaign around keywords like these, but a well-placed blog post could deliver solid results. So I’ll set these keywords aside for now and remember to use them every now and then.
Next, let’s check out those keywords with the highest volume and the greatest relevance to our business – in this case – solar PV installation training courses.
There are a million ways you can do this, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s just make an excel spreadsheet and copy/paste the data in. The goal is to create a weighted list that gives greater importance to relevance, competition, and # of searches.
- In Column A (Keyword), we insert the keyword.
- In Column B (# of Searches), we insert the total monthly searches.
- In Column C (Volume Quality), we assign a quality score for the monthly searches from Column B. Basically, the keyword with the highest volume represents 100. All other keywords are a percentage of that number.
- In Column D (Relevance Quality), we assign a quality score based on the relevance of the keyword, with 100 being the most relevant. You’ll just have to eyeball this and determine a number that works for you.
- In Column E (Keyword Value), we create a simple formula that takes the quality score from Column C (Volume Quality) and adds it to twice the value from Column D (Relevance Quality).
This gives us a weighted score that places greater emphasis on the relevance of a keyword than on the search volume of my keyword.
The figure below shows an example snapshot of what this might look like. Your own list will obviously be much longer.
And now, we’re ready to select the top 10, 20, 50, or even 100 keywords from our list and begin optimizing our site.
A Few Notes on Mining Keywords for Your Solar Business
There are a few things to keep in mind.
1. No Keyword Tool Is 100% Perfect
Google’s Keyword Tool is popular because it’s free and comprehensive. But it definitely has some drawbacks.
For example, it doesn’t show you actual searches – it shows you pay-per-click (PPC) data. The difference between search and PPC is usually pretty small, but not always.
If you have the budget, you should try a mix of free and paid keyword search tools. Here’s a list you might want to check out.
2. Traffic vs. Conversions
When determining the relevance of a given keyword, it’s best to focus on conversions and not on how much traffic that keyword can bring you.
There’s a big difference between the two.
When I first started out, I worked on an SEO campaign for a medical tourism company that helped patients find affordable hospitals overseas for everything from liposuction to dental implants.
They wanted to be #1 for the search term “medical tourism.” We optimized the hell out of their property and finally got them to the number one spot. The traffic was great – it exceeded our wildest expectations.
There was one problem though.
No one who needs quality liposuction in India or affordable dental implants in Thailand ever searches the term “medical tourism.” They search for “quality liposuction in India” or “affordable dental implants in Thailand.”
The company got a ton of traffic but not many conversions.
So make sure the keywords you select are ones that a potential customer would actually search for at some time during the buying cycle.
3. Keywords Change Constantly
The top 10 hottest keywords for your solar business today could be very different a month from now.
- New technology emerges
- People’s tastes change
- Competition increases
This means you need to go back occasionally to develop new and improved keyword lists. At least every few months – if not more often.
Stay tuned for more insights into solar keyword selection.