Firstly, it’s important to use customer language. For example, I heard that the DVLA used to talk about the ‘vehicle excise duty’ on their website. Then they realised the rest of us call it the ‘car tax disc’ and had to rewrite their web copy to match.

To find out what language your customers use, use the Google AdWords keyword tool. It’s free!

You have to wait a moment while it loads. Then you can type in the search term/s of your choice along with the CAPTCHA code to prove you’re a human being not a robot. Google will return a list of suggested keywords, each showing how many times it’s searched per month and how high (or low) the competition is.

For example, a solicitor in Mitcham wanted to be found for a search of ‘solicitor Mitcham’. The keyword tool showed that there was ’high competition’ i.e. his competitors had already claimed that space. But he also found that lots of people were searching ‘notary Mitcham’ and there was low competition for that phrase. Being a notary was one of the services he provides, so he was able to optimise his site for those keywords and rake in all that business, without worrying about being found for a search of ‘solicitor’.

Similarly, I worked with an interior designer. We found there was no hope of her site ranking first for any general keywords, but that lots of people were searching for ‘How to choose an interior designer’ or ‘interior design colours’, ‘interior design curtains’ and ‘interior design carpets’. We therefore wrote a series of blog posts with these as headings, and were able to drive traffic to her site that way.

You will probably find that ‘long tail’ searches are more useful. That means that it will be difficult to appear at the top of the listings for short words such as ‘trainer’, because everyone in the world will be competing for those. It’s better to optimise your site for ‘trainer Brighton’, for example.

One of my other favourite keyword tools is It’s not affiliated with Google, but is a fun way of finding out which keyword is searched more than another. For example, try a search for ‘pen’ v ‘sword’ and see which is mightier! More seriously, I searched ‘copywriter’ v ‘copywriting’. The winner, in case you’re interested, is ‘copywriting’. I also searched ‘copywriter Bromley’ v ‘copywriter Croydon’ which tells me there are marginally more searches for Croydon. These quick searches tell me how to word my own website. Why not have a little play and find out how best to word yours?

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking


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