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Keyword Research – The First Step to SEO Success

November 10th, 2008 | | Basic SEO Tips, SEO Keyword Research

It’s time to get ranked for the keywords that are relevant to your business.  While this can seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be when you follow these simple steps!

Making a list of the keywords you should rank for is the first step.  Take the “work” out of  it by just sitting down and brainstorming with your team.  If you have a sales team, bring them in on the action too.  Find out from your team what keywords and phrases trigger sales for you.

Take a look at your menu structure.  Is it broken down by product or service?  That might be a good place to build categories for the keywords you want to zero in on.  If your menu outlines the basic services or products that you sell, start there.  For example, here at Hanapin, we offer several types of services:  PPC Management, Website Development and Search Engine Optimization.  When we decided it was time to get busy with our own SEO, we started there, with our core group of services.

Then we took a look at some reports from Google Analytics.  What keywords are bringing people to our site currently?  We started asking ourselves, “How can we vary these keywords/phrases or build upon the keywords we know bring people to our site?”  So we started making a list, sorted by the services that we offer.

Once we hammered out our top 20 or so keywords & keyword phrases per category, we wanted to take a look to see what kind of search volume each word had.  Now I’m warning you, if you’ve got 10 or more services or products that you sell, and you’ve identified 10+ keywords per category, this is where keyword research gets a little overwhelming.

Let’s look at Website Development, since that’s a service we offer.

First, we headed over to Google’s keyword tool to plug in this keyword phrase.  Let’s just see how much traffic we can expect to receive.   Of course there are several keyword research tools; Wordtracker offers a free tool, as well as, Keyword Discovery, among others.  For demonstration purposes, we’ll use the Google Adwords Keyword tool.

From this we can get a picture of the traffic searching for an Website Development company.  You’ll notice, Google also suggests other keywords, which will come in handy as you drill down on your keyword list and might reveal other keyword phrases you may not have considered.

But we still didn’t make the decision to target this keyword for our SEO yet, why?  At this point, we only know how many searches are being performed for this word; we don’t know how many other websites are currently ranking for the same keyword phrase.  Before we give this phrase the “green light”, we’ve got to see if it’s worth our time.

You’ve got to take a look at how many competing pages you’re dealing with.  Competing pages?  Yep, you need to take a look to see how many websites are currently ranking for the keywords you’re aiming for.  So go to Google, type in the keyword or phrase you’re considering ranking for and check out how many competing pages there are.

A word to the wise, don’t just type in website development, you’ll get results that encompasses every website that has the word “website” and “development” somewhere in their content.  Narrow your results and do an “exact match” search in Google. Just put quotation marks around the keyword and the results you’ll pull will reflect websites using the exact keyword or phrase you just entered.  So here we go.

Holy Cow!  6,290,000 competing pages!  At this point, you’ve got to make a decision, is this a keyword or key phrase that we really want to focus our energy on?  With more than 6 million pages, I think I’d want to fine-tune that keyword, bring it into focus a little more.  Why don’t we target people a little closer to home and start ranking for those keywords first and then build toward a bigger audience from there.  So we decided to take a look at Indiana Website Development.

With only 11,900 competing pages, the task didn’t seem quite as daunting as the first and of course we want to develop websites for people in our “own backyard”.

So now it’s decision time.  Is this a keyword phrase we should start ranking for, does it provide enough traffic and is it worth the time and effort it takes to revise content within our website to start ranking for this word?  Of course, if this is a core service you offer AND you want to target an audience in your own geographical area, I’d say it’s a must to start working on it!

Repeat these steps for every keyword and keyword phrase you have in your lists (yes it’s manual and labor intensive when you’re dealing with lots and lots of keywords) but it is absolutely necessary to start here and build a solid SEO foundation.

Effective keyword research lays that solid foundation for SEO results and can help you kick-start the ranking process.  Chomping at the bit and ready to get started?   Off you go, grasshopper!  Start building your keyword categories and keyword lists, do your research and then start developing content around the keywords you zero in on.  Do it right and you’ll be ranking in results before you know it!

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  • http://www.atlantarealestateinfo.com/ AtlantaRealEstate

    Andrea,

    Good post on KW research. It’s indeed a lot of work.

    I make a spreadsheet with the KW and lots of other columns including:

    –exact search numbers
    –# of sites with “all in title” for the KW
    –# of sites with the “KW” on the page

    Then I have columns calculating the “feasibility” of going after the KW.

    Very intensive and time consuming for sure.

  • http://healthandwealthcorner.blogspot.com/ Hafiz waheed ullah

    nice  informative post