A good keyword is a word that caters specifically to your niche product or service. It’s not supposed to be a generic word that is commonly used in the English language since the point is to grab only the type of people who are interested in what you have to offer. It would be counterproductive to try and grab everyone since most of them will leave within 5 seconds of arriving to your site, wasting both the visitors’ and your time.

The goal is to attract people who are interested in your product, service, or brand. People who are in this stage of the sales cycle will tend to use more specific keywords. And why wouldn’t they? They are already somewhat familiar with you, or what you offer, or what they want but are essentially researching into it a little bit more. Using good keywords is a great way to pre-qualify them, qualifying only the specific people that would be interested specifically in you and what you offer. It’s a win-win since you get the “right” people and those peoples’ time won’t be wasted coming to your site.

Now how do you find what keywords your interested users are already using to find you? Since these words are already sending people to your site, it’s already market tested and eliminates the need to guess up new keywords (at least for now) and hope that its drawing qualified people to your site. You can use these keywords to purchase AdWords, sprinkle them on your site for better SEO, or use them in other marketing campaigns.

Here are several great resources to use.

The Google Keyword Tool – This is a fantastic tool that is simple to use. One feature I would like to point out is that it has a competition bar that allows you to gauge how popular a certain keyword is. I tend to choose keywords that has a completion bar filled between 25%-75% (your “sweet spot” will vary).

In my example:

I have a website that offers information and resources surrounding the topic of acid rain. This site can be found here. If you type in the URL into the Google tool you get a whole bunch of keyword ideas. Here’s some background info so you get an idea of who I’m targeting and why knowing who your qualified audiences are is so important.

My website is geared towards junior high school and high school students in the United States researching acid rain for a term paper or science fair project. These are the audiences I would want to reach out specifically to because they are the ones that would likely benefit most from the resources I offer on the site (and potentially clicking on any ad placements catered to their demographic according to Google AdSense). I am not interested in any other parties, nor do I waste resources in trying to get any other audiences since it would be too cumbersome and expensive with little or no return; plus those people would find my information irrelevant. For example: I could target people in China (which contains some of the world’s worst acid rain inflicted cities) or Northern Europe (which receives annual acid rain during the spring destroying countless of historic sites costing millions of dollars in restoration). Although trying to use keywords that would get these semi-interested people could bring a lot more traffic to my site, people in these two groups can find more relevant websites pertaining to their specific issues somewhere else and would not benefit much from coming to my site. Bringing irrelevance people who leave my website suddenly will cause an increase in my bounce rate which could have a negative consequences to my Google page-rank. The goal is not to be everything and get everyone. If you try getting everyone, you end up getting no one.

From my results, I definitely would not use “pollution” and “water.” Even though these words are being searched in multi-million per month, it’s so generic that most of those people are probably not students nor are they even interested in acid rain. In addition, purchasing those keywords for AdWords is out of the question! Those words cost at least $1.00 in CPC which is extremely expensive considering the fact that you’ll be paying out those words for free since most of them will not be interested in your site. There’s better and cheaper ways of acquiring qualified visitors to your site.

The keywords I would use would be: “articles on air pollution” and “acid rain essays.” These are the type of keywords students writing term papers or doing science fair projects would use. The first keyword is a lot cheaper (only $0.50 CPC) and would bring in traffic that would likely benefit and stay longer on my website. The later keyword cost $1.24 CPC, however, I feel that is money well spent since the people using this specific keyword string are most likely used by researching students. Finding what’s expensive and what’s cheap is really trial-and-error and a topic that goes way beyond this article.

Extra tip: You can use this tool to find out how much a keyword would cost if you were going to purchase adwords on Google: Google AdWord CPC Estimator

Google Analytics – If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your website, install it now! This is a must have tool that you need to get into your visitor’s head and see how you can get more like them coming to your site. In Google Analytics, after selecting which website you want to view the report for, goto: Traffic Sources -> Keywords. You will get an awesome list of keywords, pages/visit, average time on site, % new visits, and bounce rate. All of which are important statistics to determine which keywords are bringing in your most qualified visitors. Only through trial-and-error will you be able to determine which set criteria works for your website and audience. In my case, a keyword that yields at least 1.5 pages/visit, avg time on site of 1:30, and a bounce rate of less than 80% makes a pretty good keyword. I contribute these statistics based on the size of my website, attention span of my audience (I apologize in advance if this is offensive to my visitors!), and the content I offer.

Special Tip: If you have Google AdSense, you can link it to Google Analytics. This allows you to find out which ads people are clicking on. This can be another innovative way to finding more keywords, products, content, and websites, your qualified visitors are interested in. You can harness this knowledge to continue on improving your keyword selections and website offering.

Alexa Web Information – This is another place I go from time-to-time to see what keywords may pop-up there. I like how it breaks up search queries by which one has risen vs. those that has decline in past month. This allows me to leverage hot keywords and pay more attention to them over keywords on the decline. The “High Impact Search Queries” results gives a nice list of possible keywords to use. A high impact and a high popularity basically means you own that market for that specific keyword. Definitely a nice position to be in if it’s a popular word. The higher the impact, the better, and I feel this alone should be weighted more than any other criteria.

To sum it up:
Knowing your audience and the “right” keywords that they are using gives you the following benefits:

• Cheaper AdWords. You’re no longer purchasing a bunch of high traffic low turnover keywords. Now you’re focusing on specific keywords that your niche audiences are using who would benefit most from your offerings.

• Lower bounce rate and higher time-on-site traffic. You’re no longer getting visitors who come to your site only to leave 5 seconds later because your content is irrelevant to them.

• Your site begins to dominate your niche keywords organically on Google allowing you to not spend as much on AdWords and other online advertising.

• Hopefully your visitors begins to associate certain keywords or strings of keywords to you, your product, and/or your brand thus allowing you to use the same keywords effectively across different marketing channels.