Though the topic of keyword research is not specific for Joomla, it is probably the most important phase of the SEO process. First I give a short but very important notice: keep in mind that your content should be focussed primarily on your readers, with readable text to offer. Many people write for Google primarily, which results in text filled with awkwardly used keywords that is horrible to read. As long as your users are your first priority, use your keywords as wisely as possible. If there is a conflict between readability and exact keyword usage, choose for readability. And check your spelling! Tip: Use the Grammarly.com app in Google Chrome (free, also works excellent in your Joomla editor).
One thing before we start selecting our keywords: Google recently aims to be less keyword-driven, but more toward themes or topics. Google will usually be able to define your topic from the text you write, not just from the same keyword repeated over and over. This does not mean keywords are not important, but you should create diversity, by playing with synonyms and alternative terms.
Choosing incorrect keywords will make all your SEO actions worthless. One of the first things to do is to define the keywords you will be using. You will generally have a rough idea to start off with, but you should do further research as the whole site's relevancy will be based on correct use of your keywords. Make sure you do not just target one keyword, but a range of related keywords, especially with Google's current focus on subjects rather than keywords.
Start off with just using common sense and build an initial list of keywords. From there, expand it with synonyms or single / multiple variations. Also, use the search suggestions that Google offers at the bottom of the search page: it offers frequently searched phrases, as you can see for these suggestions as alternatives for the search phrase joomla seo:
After the initial keyword search, you could further expand your ideas using keyword tools. These often tell you how hard it is to beat your competition, plus the number of estimated searches. A tool I like a lot is a free tool from WebCEO.com (registration needed). It is a quite extensive SEO toolkit, and the nice thing is that it's free for 2 campaigns, allowing access to their Keyword Investigation tool. It offers search volume (global and local), trends and especially bid competition (which relates to keyword difficulty) in one handy overview:
I like this tool a lot. Using the filters, it allows you to look for high volume with low bid competition, which usually relates to keywords that relatively easily result in higher rankings.
A new tool (released november 2016) is the SEO Keyword magic Tool by SemRush (also free, but registration required). This tool delivers you tons of alternative phrases and related seconds for a given keyword in juts seconds. I like this tool a lot!
For further fine-tuning, you can use the Google Adwords Keyword tool to find similar keywords and aliases. In this example I typed
- joomla SEO
- joomla search engine optimization
In the below example, not all terms seem perfect for my use, but quite often it brings up some very useful ones.
As you can see, it lists the average number of searches per month, a rough estimation of the level of competition, plus a large list of possible keywords and keyword combinations. Picking the best keywords from this list will ensure that you capture all relevant traffic for related search terms. By the way, for foreign variations of your keywords, you can use Global Market Finder (also provided by AdWords).
Update: since August 2016 Google does not offer exact search volumes anymore, but only rough volumes, like 1000-5000. Only active advertisers receive exact volumes now.
Then one more tool, different from the previous ones. It is a tool that is a bit hidden between the SEO analysis tool from On-page.org (free for 1 site, but you can run TF*IDF reports as much as you like), called the TF*IDF report (hidden under the Tools option). It sounds a bit complicated, but actually, it is pretty easy to use, and it uses an algorithm that tries to look at keywords the way Google does, by choosing keywords that the top 15 for your given keyword also use. Actually, it works surprisingly well. It does not simply give you alternatives and synonyms, but also roughly related words, terms that other tools don't give you often. Let me give you a short example here for the keyword joomla seo:
You can also perform keyword research from commercial keyword tools like SemRush (which is also incorporated in Raven Tools). If your site is already up and running, you might also find a lot of useful information in your Google webmaster tools. Some free tools are also pretty useful for keyword research:
- Google.com/trends : Again a nice tool by Google. Shows trends over time or over seasons to get an idea of the current trend a keyword has in the searches.
- Ubersuggest.org: This tool mimics the auto-suggest feature of Google for a certain keyword, but it gives you dozens of suggestions with the most popular search words.
- Keywordtool.io: Similar to Ubersuggest, but with a very nice and clean interface, also allowing easy switching for your local country. And a nice option to copy all these keywords to your clipboard.
- Soovle.com: It pretty does the same as Ubersuggest, but instead of only Google, it also targets Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Youtube.
- Keywordshitter.com: Enter one keyword or keyword combination, and it shits out (excuse the language) hundreds of possibly very interesting long-tail related keywords.
Use your keywords
We will talk a lot about how and where you should use your keywords in the next steps. One option needs to be considered before we dive into Joomla:
If you still need to choose your domain, try to choose one that includes your main keyword(s). Google and other search engines use the domain as one of the most important factors to define the relevancy of a site for a keyword. This site is set-up as Joomlaseo.com, which ensures that both "Joomla" and "SEO" are always included as search terms, which is much better than a fantasy name. This does not mean that you cannot establish a good SEO ranking with a domain that does not include your keywords, it just makes it a bit harder.
If you are going to use a domain with multiple words, (like Joomlaseo.com), always use dashes to connect them. Google treats dashes as spaces and can then easily distinguish the various phrases.
Also, use your main keywords everywhere possible, from your URL and your main content to your titles, meta-data etc.. But do so wisely, don't over do this (no keyword stuffing). Also, this article on magazine.joomla.org has some interesting reading on recent updates from Google to prevent over-optimization. A nice tool that can help you write texts for SEO is Webtexttool. It can be used right in your Joomla article as a live-SEO check.
And again: when writing your content, focus on readability. Badly written text with too much focus on keywords will drive your visitors away. A nice tool to chek readability is the Hemingway app.