There is no shortage of experts on the topic of SEO and keyword analysis. This brief introduction will attempt to place the topic in the context of travel marketing and will hopefully point you in the direction of other resources. The phrase “keyword analysis” refers to the study of how people search for information on a search engine for a given topic. Tomorrow we will discuss how to incorporate those keywords into your web site content in a manner that is effective and aesthetically pleasing.
Keyword analysis assumes that people are predictable when they utilize a search engine for research on a topic. There is plenty of good reason for this assumption, and it is the heart of keyword analysis. Staying with yesterday’s example of Hawaii honeymoons and weddings, let’s take a look at how we might conduct keyword analysis for our hypothetical travel agency site specializing in Hawaii travel.
Let’s begin with the most important point – the niche topic of your site. If you are a generalist travel agency and your site speaks to all types of travel to all destinations, you will have a much more difficult time effecting a SEO campaign. Remember, the search engines rank the most relevant, important sites highest. Thus, the more narrowly focused your site is on a topic, the more likely the search engines will rank it higher on a page of search results.
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But how to know what keywords are important to people using search engines? What words and phrases will potential customers use when searching for information on Hawaii honeymoons? Certainly “Hawaii honeymoons” will be an important term. By strongly incorporating those words into our site’s content, we will no doubt attract some attention from the search engines’ algorithms. But what other terms and phrases should our site’s content incorporate? If we go back to our assumption about the predictability of the way people search, we will see that the assumption is based on a generalized use of language, our socialized culture, television and movies. As a culture, we share common phrases and a lexicon. That is the starting point for our search. In fact, it is critical.
If we used the terms “Hawaii nuptials” in our site’s content we would be technically correct. However, we also know that most people are not going to use the word “nuptials” when they search for information on Hawaii weddings. As a travel agency looking to optimize your website’s content, you have to find the intersection between your content and the way your potential customers search for information on a topic. Moreover, this type of analysis is an ongoing process because people’s habits and search patterns change over time. Developing the art of writing useful content that naturally incorporates the search terms most used by potential clients is the secret to solid SEO.
Fortunately, you have a lot of help when it comes to keyword analysis and selection. Some of that help is free, like Google’s External Keyword Tool, and some tools are available on a subscription basis, Wordtracker being one of the most often used. Most travel agents for whom their web sites are ancillary to their main practice can successfully use the free tools available. Those agents with a dedicated and focused web strategy, however, will want to investigate some of the more sophisticated subscription options.
Using Google’s external keyword tool, do a search on the phrase “Hawaii honeymoons”. You will be presented with a list of other keywords along with the relative frequency those words are used in searches on Google. Note, too, that the Google tool presents you with an “advertiser competition” index, indicating a relative popularity of that keyword for all Google advertisers. You want to choose terms that have a high usage by searchers, but stop short of those phrases that, though popular, are too generic (e.g. “travel”) to make a real difference in your optimization efforts.
Google’s external keyword tool will also allow you to do a keyword analysis of your own site. Choose the “website content” option and type in a page of your website. Google will extract keywords from that page and give you some idea of how frequently potential clients utilized those terms in their searches.
The exercise of keyword analysis allows you to better understand your customers’ behavior and perspectives by analyzing the words that they use in their search engine explorations. By consistently using keyword analysis in your web site copy and intelligently integrating them into your site’s infrastructure, you stand a far better chance of obtaining a high search engine ranking.
Tomorrow – Integrating Keywords into your web site