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Keyword Research: Little Changes, Big Differences (in Search Volume)

Keyword Research: Little Changes, Big Differences (in Search Volume) image Keyword Research2 300x181No matter what your business is, when you have an online presence, you have to carefully consider what you write. It is well known that dynamic content is king, and often updating websites or maintaining a blog will help your company rank well in Google’s searches. However, as more and more businesses enter the online world, you need to take more steps to ensure you rank for the right keywords. Performing a little keyword research will help you find the terms actually being searched for on Google, as opposed to what you think is being searched. Even the slightest nuances might mean a difference of thousands of searches per month.

Keyword differences can make an impact on virtually any search. One of the biggest differences comes from plural vs. singular search terms. For the majority of searches, far more searchers use the plural term, because they’re performing a general search and aren’t entirely sure of what they want yet. One example would be holiday card vs. holiday cards: “Holiday Card” averages 2,900 monthly searches, while “Holiday Cards” sees 18,100 searches per month. Similarly, when customers know the brand they want, but not the item, they stick with plural searches: “Nike Shoe” gets 5,400 monthly searches, while “Nike Shoes” skyrockets up to 368,000 searches. When it comes to higher-end items, though, the tables turn. “Diamond Necklaces” gets a respectable 3,600 monthly searches, but “Diamond Necklace” is searched for an average of 27,100 times per month. These differences prove why keyword research is vital to targeting and finding the most people with your content. While there are some general guidelines to follow, the only way to make sure you target the right words every time is to do the research.

Another set of often-searched queries that can be easily mixed up are local searches. The placement of words around a city or state name can make or break your content. Take, for example, Las Vegas and its booming hotel scene. “Hotels Las Vegas” only gets 14,800 monthly searches. “Hotels in Las Vegas”, with the addition of one two-letter word, bumps up to 49,500 monthly searches. Both of these pale in comparison to “Las Vegas Hotels”, which averages a staggering 165,000 searches each month. Clearly, optimizing for “Hotels Las Vegas” will hide you from the vast majority of hits. Similarly, Boston has a plethora of delicious restaurants; how do foodies find them on Google? Well, “Restaurants Boston” manages 1,000 searches per month. “Restaurants in Boston” receives 5,400 hits per month. However, just like with the Vegas hotels, “Boston Restaurants” takes the cake with 8,100 monthly searches. There is no hard-and-fast rule for local searches; if you want to rank for a localized term, search that term and any variations of it you can think of, and you’ll ensure you optimize correctly.

As with the local searches, human-branded searches can vary greatly from term to term. Clothing has some eye-opening examples of this. “Clothes for Kids” seems like a logical term, and gets 2,900 searches per month. 2,900 is nothing, though, compared to the 40,500 “Kids’ Clothes” sees every month. On the same note, if you own a clothing store that serves gentlemen, you better optimize for the right thing. “Pants for Men” gets 1,600 searches per month, while “Mens’ Pants” sees a more impressive 4,400. But what about “Men’s Pants”? Zero. An ill-placed apostrophe makes all the difference between ranking for a huge term and ranking for a term nobody searches for. Make sure you test out every placement of apostrophes, and that your site is ranking for the right thing.

Finally, if you want to use adjectives, there are always right and wrong options to choose. Whether you compete on price or quality, your descriptive words matter. For example, “Great Thanksgiving Recipes” gets 260 searches per month, which is okay, but “Best Thanksgiving Recipes” receives 1,900 monthly searches. If you think you’re the best, say you’re the best! Another example comes from price competition. Here are four highly competitive terms, meaning a lot of websites are trying to rank for them:

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“Socks On Sale”
“Cheap Socks”
“Discount Socks”
“Affordable Socks”

Take a second and think to yourself which term would get the most searches, and which would get the least. If you guessed that “Cheap Socks” would be searched for the most, you’re right: That term sees 1,600 monthly searches, over 1,000% more than “Socks On Sale” (110 searches). “Discount Socks” does okay for itself, with 390 monthly searches. “Affordable Socks”, however, is another dud of a term. Even though tons of sites are competing to rank highest for the term, it averages no monthly searches! While it’s good to be descriptive, you must exercise caution with your language, or you could be targeting a dead term.

How can you make sure your terms are the right terms? Google offers a convenient Keyword Tool that will guide your research. With this handy application, you can research the terms you currently use, as well as similar terms, to see what will expose your site to the most searches. It also offers keyword suggestions, helping you find words you didn’t even think of. Using this data, you can target highly-searched keywords and put yourself in position to rank better among all search engines. When creating content, do yourself a favor and take the time to research relevant keywords; you’ll see a huge uptick in hits to your site when you do it right.

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