My Marketing Thing

SEO and keyword research: Goldilocks meets the devil

Marketing cartoon - Goldilocks gives SEO keyword research presentation

Search engine optimisation (SEO). Everyone wants to know about it. Even if they really don’t.

Because, surely, there are more interesting things we can do with our time. But I guess (she says begrudgingly) if you want to be found easily on Google (or other popular search engines) it’s probably not a bad idea to know the lay of the land.

Then, if you wish, you can reject all these SEO tips outright and focus on being more interesting.

Note: Being interesting online is good for your SEO. 

Second note: If you’re unsure what search optimisation means, read my previous post, SEO: True Meanings and Confessions

Let’s start with what I call ‘The Devil’

Another word for The Devil: the keyword. And to confuse things, key phrases (i.e. more than one word) are also called keywords.

Keywords are what other people will type in the Google search box to find websites that cover a particular criteria. Ideally, you want these words to appear on your site so they match with the kinds of searches your target market is likely to make…all to find someone special like you.

It’s supposed to work like this: Your potential customer taps in a word or two, clicks on ‘search’ and voila! There you are, on the very first page (ideally), waiting to greet them.

An aside: Why my bad press on keywords?

My personal distaste for keywords stems from the bizarre communication contortion that people embrace for the sake of good ranking. They can spoil creative communication, and even straight-up clear writing. Keywords can be party-poopers in the fun park of message giving.

Admittedly, people are starting to find ways to use them for good and not evil.

My distaste also stems from that fact that I am number phobic. Ascertaining the right keywords is a numbers game. As you are about to find out…


What keywords are best for you?

Let’s use an example. Say you want to set up a website that sells meditation books and CDs via your site’s online store. This means you are creating an online business, so ranking will be rather important for moving your merchandise as well as your chi.

‘Meditation’ is an obvious keyword to focus on – or so you would think. Of course, ‘meditation’ will appear on your site, but the term is very general. And so it attracts a massive number of sites on Google. In fact, 27,400,000 searches came up for that word when I last looked.

How do I know? Because at the top right hand side of the Google results page (under the Google logo and search box) is a light blue bar that gives you these results.

27,400,00 search results is called ‘insanely large competition’. The enlightenment industry is humming like a plague of bumblebees on heat. In other words, be prepared to get buried somewhere on page 37 (i.e. the outer reaches of the Google universe).

So what’s the answer?

The Goldilocks theory 

This is where having a ‘niche’ is handy. What you want are keywords that are not too big (because of that ‘insane competition’ problem) but also not too small (i.e. no one would dream of typing it in to search for it). So we are shooting for: not too big, not too small, just right.

‘Home meditation’ is getting better niche-wise but still pretty competitive (20,100,000 searches came up), perhaps also ‘DIY meditation’ (1,010,000 comes up for this term). ‘Guided mediation’ brings 734,000 searches.

‘Guided meditation cd’ is better at 192,000. ‘Guided meditation audio’ is also smaller at 168,000 searches. So these two are much better than just silly old ‘meditation’.

Getting the picture?


Proper keyword finding tools

Looking at the numbers on the results bar after a Google search is one way to get a rough gist. To get a better gist you can use Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool and click here for Google’s new Beta version.

AdWords is Google’s pay-per-click advertising service. But you don’t have to be an AdWords customer to use their Keyword Tool. And it’s free. Aren’t they generous?

The Keyword Tool shows you how many people are searching for what words (related to whatever you type in the search box). It also shows you how strong the competition is for particularly words and phrases. Very handy.

So type in the words that relate best to your core products or services and research away.

Spy on your competition

The box where you can type in a website address offers a great opportunity to see what keywords your competitors use (competitors being those that offer the same kinds of products and or services to the same kind of target market).

Looking at the keywords of websites by those competitors who are already highly ranked can give some useful clues.


Spiffy keyword finding tools


If you don’t mind spending some money to get a closer look at what might work best for you, Wordtracker is one of the best known keyword research tools.

Note: You will find that keyword research software companies generally offer a free trial. Plunder at your leisure.

But according to Top Ten Reviews, the best keyword analysis software is:

  1. Web CEO (over over 707,000 businesses currently rely on it…Lordy)
  2. Advanced Web Ranking (the company who made ABR is from Romania, which must be embarrassing because heaps of people are using this software but don’t like to admit it)
  3. iBusiness promoter (from the more respectable country of Germany, these people say that you will be in the top 10 of Google or get your money back – except that their clients might be too afraid to ask for their money back because the company is German)


Well, that’s the first three. Check out the rest here.

Other popular packages include:

Trawl through at will.


How do I use keywords on my site?

My God, are you still awake? My hat off to you. As a reward for your persistence, we are going to ‘hold that thought’. You can go and have a nap now.

But I’ll be back next post to answer your sage question. If you don’t apply this keyword caper correctly search engines can penalise you in ways you haven’t even imagined.

Google might be a cute name but do the wrong thing and, man, they can get ugly.

Stay close.


This post was written by Megan Hills.  Megan is a writer, cartoonist, marketing consultant who wonders whether Goldilocks was ever the butt of a blonde joke. Find out more about Megan.

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  1. Thanks Megan,
    I appreciate we should focus more on our niche speciality so we will be competing with less competition and hence be more likely to appear at the top of the results. You explained it so clearly

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