Keyword Research and Web Copy Writing – Extended Blog Post

This week in Content Management, I gave a presentation about keyword research, the slideshow of which can be viewed here.

What are keywords?

Very simply, keywords are what people type into the search engine when they are looking for a website. By utilising these words in a strategic manner, one can improve a websites performance on search engines and help it to become more findable.

Keyword Research – where to start?

  1. Think of a common word or phrase relevant to your business. You can just take one of the top of your head, or ask somebody what they would search for. From this seed start building a list of keywords that are relevant to your website. for example if your seed word is chocolate, examples of keywords you might put on your list would be white chocolate, chocolate eggs, chocolate gift baskets etc.
  2. Find related words. From your seed words, start making another list of relevant keywords that don’t include your original word. Again using the example chocolate, some relevant words might be easter eggs, valentines gifts, truffles, candy, sweets, cake, baking etc.
  3. Use your related to words to generate EVEN MORE keywords. Repeating the process will give you a huge list of words to work with.

Where can you look for keywords?? One place to start is in search engines. By typing in a keyword, Google will start suggesting search terms for you by using predictive search.

Another place one can look is on social bookmarking sites, to see what related tags come up when a phrase or even a specific website is searched for.

There are also keyword consult tools available such as Wordtracker and Google Adwords that can be used, which not only suggest words for you, but also give you all kinds of data about the popularity and competitiveness of words.

The goal is to create a good mix of general and niche terms.

Short-tail and Long-tail keywords

Short-tail terms are one word keywords, or very general phrase that would be very popular search terms, but also have a vast amount of competition. A new website would have no chance of competing with well-etablished websites by optimising for only these keywords.

Long-tail keywords are the longer phrases of 3 or 4 words, that really narrow down a users search. These are also referred to as niche keywords. A user who searches using long-tail words are much more specific about what they want, and are therefore more likely to become buyers. A new website will have far more luck optimising for these niche phrases as there will be less competition, and will rank higher is searches.

Again, using our chocolate example, a new website might optimise for “vegan chocolate easter eggs”, which is very specific, rather than just “chocolate” which is very broad and will have huge competition.

How do we find out the competitiveness and popularity of keywords?

There are various tools at our disposal for this task. I have looked closely at two of them, one paid service Wordtracker, and the free keyword tool that is available from Google Adwords, for which you will need a Google account.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool

Google Adwords is a free and useful tool for keyword research. It can give you valuable statistics about each word and phrase that you use.

There are two ways of searching on Adwords. You can input the url of a website, whether it be your own or a competitors, and it will give you a list of 200 keywords and phrases that are relevant.

You can also put in various keywords and it will make more suggestions based on these, and also give you statistics. You can search using certain filters, such as location eg. United Kingdom, language eg. English and devices used eg. desktop and laptop devices.

The statistics it gives are relevant to Adsense campaigns, therefore if it says low competition, it means the amount of competition targeting that phrase for their Google based advertising campaigns.

It will give you the number of global monthly searches and local monthly searches, based on a twelve month average of user queries. The local stats will depend on what location and language you have set it to.

Some people think that results from Adwords keyword tool are too broad and not accurate, but it is the best free tool that you can use.


Wordtracker is a paid service, although it does offer a free trial.

It searches other websites that rank highly in search engines, and shows you what keywords they are optimising for.

When doing a keyword search, wordtracker delivers a long-tail advantage, giving you 1000 results. It uses lateral and thesaurus keyword search features to help you discover more words that you may have overlooked, or not thought of.

Wordtracker uses a system called the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) to determine a keywords potential success.

KEI = (P2 / C)

P2 = popularity of a keyword squared.

C = Competitiveness (number of sites optimised for that keyword)

Wordtracker is thought to be far more accurate than the Google keywords tool, it offers more details about the competitiveness of words, and has some handy functions that allow you to create your lists of words. It’s downfall is that it is a paid service.

Found your keywords… now where do you place them??

There are many choice locations within your HTML to place your keywords. Pick a primary keyword and secondary keyword that you want to rank well for every page.

  1. The title tag <title> in the head of the document. This will show up as the bold blue text in Google search results. Include your primary keyword in the title.
  2. The headings especially <h1> – <h3>. The h1 tag should be used only once on a page and should define the topic of the page to the user. Include your primary keyword in the <h1>. Map out the structure of the page including keywords in all headings and subheadings.
  3. <strong> and <em> tags wrapped around keywords highlight them visually to the user but also tell search engines that these words are important to the content.
  4. Link labels, the words wrapped in an <a> tag.
  5. File names eg. any images or linked CSS files. Also, remember that Google interprets a dash as a space, so use these as opposed to underscores.
  6. Alt attributes.
  7. The first line of the first paragraph on each page. The first paragraph should be an overall summary of the entire page and include both the primary and secondary keywords.
  8. Meta description. Include both primary and secondary keywords in the meta description. This description is displayed with Google search results and is an opportunity to get the user to choose your page.
  9. Within the URL itself.

Keyword Density

Keyword density = keyword frequency / total number of words on the page.

Eg. if there are 50 instances of a keyword on a page with 500 words, the keyword density would be 10%.

From studying the written language, researchers have discovered that keyword density is typically not more than 7%. Because of this, pages with more than 7% density can seem suspicious to search engines. 5%-7% is the optimal keyword density for SEO.

Search engines also look at the words surrounding prominent keyword, to see if the keyword are occurring naturally in sentences. The reason for this is to prevent keyword stuffing. Websites can be penalised and even blacklisted by search engines if they are caught trying to trick the system.

It is very important to remember, write your copy for humans first, and for search engines second. This is so important. Copy that has had keywords stuffed and forced into it can read strangely and unnaturally. The quality of the content should not be sacrificed for the sake of keyword optimisation.



Building Findable Websites – Aaron Walker

What I learned in Content Management Week 4 – eCommerce

In this class we learned all about eCommerce, including which CMS might be appropriate, and how to increase conversion rates.

What is eCommerce?? Doing business electronically! A financial transaction online in exchange for a good or service.

B2C – Business to consumer (internet)

B2B – Business to business (internet/extranet)

B2E – Business to employee (intranet)

What does eCommerce include?

  • The design, technology solution and marketing of the website.
  • The fulfillment and logistics of an order.

Types of goods: 

  • Tangible
  • Digital goods – instant download
  • Content subscription
  • Hosting solutions
  • Online banking

Conversion Rates:

( B / A ) * 100     

A = Casual visitors

B = Goals acheived

A -> B is a conversion

B / A is the rate

eg. 1 sale / 20 visitors * 100 = 5%

The average conversion rate is only 2.3% with the highest rates at ~9%. Cart abandonment rates tend to be as high as 75%.  

Conversion rates are a good tool to find pages on your website that aren’t working.

Ways to Improve Conversion Rates

  • Targeted content
  • Prioritise security, usability and accessibility
  • Goal oriented design and content
  • Understand target demographic
  • Spilt (A/B) and multivariate testing
  • Host user reviews and testimonials
  • Incentivise desired user actions

The main thing is to promote trust and credibility.

How are conversion rates lost?

  • Bad navigation
  • Lack of credibility / trust
  • Unclear goals
  • No USP
  • Usability issues
Ways to reduce cart abandonment rates
  • Strip out navigation, declutter the screen
  • Be upfront about tax and postage
  • Make registration optional
  • Don’t ask for too much personal info
  • Build trust with payment gateway logos and by showing a phone number for help queries
  • Include a progress indicator
  • Use clear, readable fonts
  • Use IP detection to prefill “country” on the form
  • Make form completion very user friendly

I also learned about various content management systems that might be appropriate for an eCommerce website. This included open-source, affordable, hosted, specialist and enterprise level CMS solutions.

Other selling solutions:


  • Massive reach
  • Fees apply
  • Not just used goods, many brand new items on sale
  • New or used stock sold alongside Amazons own stock.
  • Very low-cost solution
  • “Buy Now” button redirects user

Fireclick – ecommerce statistics

Business links – online trading best practice

What I learned in Content Management Week 3 – Marketing

This week in Content Management I learned all about marketing. I did a presentation on keyword research which I will do an extended blog about soon.

John gave a presentation on on-site SEO and gave good tips about where to place your keywords on your website.

Esam spoke about Google Adwords search engine advertising and how it works. He told us about the benefits of targeted advertising and how a better ROI (return on investment) is achieved. Adwords PPC (pay per click) advertising has a lot of benefits, because it gives a lot of control to the client, who can choose who they want to target and have a lot of control over how much they want to spend.

Other things I learned about were:

Off-site SEO – this refers to inbound links to your website and how they influence search engines. Links to your site from authoritative websites in a related industry are like a thumbs up to the search engine that your site is good. The most valuable types of links are one-way, unprompted, unpaid-for links. Quality over quantity.

Google Places – this is another free way to market your business and one that should be utilised.

Article marketing/Guest blogging – this is a way of getting a link back to your website,by writing an article or guest blogging for another website.



What I learned in Content Management Week 2 – Content Strategy

This week we had some really interesting presentations from class members on various aspects of content strategy.

Richard spoke about User Generated Content. I learned that there can be different levels of engagement I also learned about some of the opportunities, threats and legal issues of UGC. UGC can be great for increasing the amount of content produced on your website, but it can be difficult to monitor.

Nicola spoke about websites having personality and a tone of voice, and how this can be incorporated in every aspect of a website; from the use of aesthetics, the style of writing, the types of content, and how these all combine. Some of the benefits include setting yourself apart from competition, and building trust and relationships with the users. I learned about how a style is constructed, and what goes into a stye guide, which is something that can be created for reference, for consistency.

Alison told us about writing for the web. She gave us tips on hooking the user, and how to keep them on the site with crisp succinct copy. It is important to know your audience, and to create meaningful copy, with highlighted heading and keywords to grab their attention. A pyramid style of writing works well. Copy should be pruned aggressively – the shorter, the plainer, the better.

In Jame’s lecture, I learned that content should be Useful, Unique and Authoritative. He told us about the various types of content we could include and the best practice in producing each of them.

Some of the most important things I took away from the class were:

  1. Know your audience!
  2. Understand your own goals AND understand your users goals.
  3. Don’t neglect accessibility when using alternative types of content.


Small Business Project – Warm Bean Coffee

So I didn’t show a lot last week so I may talk you through my process a bit more.

I’d never designed a logo before and didn’t really know how to go about it due to my serious lack of imagination. I wanted a retro emblem logo so I googled for that and found this tutorial to learn some basics and then changed it about a bit to come up with what (I later realised) is essentially a knockoff of the Starbucks logo. Fantastic. You can see it in one of my earlier blog posts.

After a false start on one website, I went back to the beginning and started with some better planning. I gathered all my content and sketched out a general plan of what was going to go on each page, and did a bit of wireframing. I won’t subject you to most of my notes as they are mainly scribbles. This page looked neat enough to share.

I got into Photoshop and attempted for the first time to design using grid. It is also the first time I’ve ever begun anything in Photoshop, and not just dived straight into the code. I began with a 960px 12 column grid photoshop action which I downloaded from the website. I split it into two columns for most pages, and three columns of equal width for the menu page, with 20px gutters in between. I think I have been converted into a lover of grids and find myself wondering if I’ll ever go without them again?? However, David did point out that my pages do feel a little tight, so next time I may consider widening the gutters.

I tried a lot of different colour combinations before settling on black, red and white, and even then it took me a long time to decide on the shades of red to use! These colours seemed to work best for the brand I had in mind for the coffee shop. I decided to keep the texture in the background quite dark and subtle so as not to distract from the content, and to contrast well with the white font.

For the typography I tried lots of different typefaces, and eventually found Nixie One in Google Webfonts, which I used for the headings (although I’m still looking for something better), and I stuck with Verdana for the body text.

The colour scheme and typography were probably what I struggled with the most. I went through about 100 variations of each and spent hours changing the margins and lineheights. Hopefully these things will become easier with practice as I learn what looks good and what doesn’t through trial and error.

All in all I feel like I have learned a lot through the duration of this project. Anyway, here is a link to the finished website:



Warm Bean Mockups

These are some photoshop mockups for the coffee website. The first was the original direction in which I was heading, with neutral browns and creams and latte colours. This was just a very basic idea for the layout before I put in the content because I scrapped it pretty quickly because I thought it was a bit naff.

All of the content for the website, I have taken from Third Floor Espresso (my favourite coffee shop in Dublin), and after looking through all of the photos that I stole from their facebook, I thought I needed something a little more bright and fun. A lot of their photos have red in them due to the red coffee bags and filters, so I thought I’d go for red, black and white. I thought red would work because it is a bold, strong, warm colour, words which are all synonymous with good coffee. 

I liked the wood grain background and decided to stick with it, but in a very dark colour to keep it subtle. There is a lot of woodgrain in the photos.