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Keyword Research 101


Picking the right keywords is the critical first step before you spend your hard earned money on SEO. Choosing keywords is part art and part science. You need to understand the psychology of how and why people search. People search the web to find information, answers and a solution to a problem.

Keywords are how search engines categorize and index websites. Keywords are the phrases people type in when they do searches online. They are in fact the foundation for all types of search engine marketing.

How do you select the right keywords for your website? The right ones bring willing buyers. The wrong ones bring “Looky-Loos” who have no real intention of ever buying.

This is the process you should go through in choosing the best keywords for your site.

Market: Make sure there is a market for what you want to sell. Just because people are searching for something, it doesn’t mean people are buying it. An easy way to do this is to browse some of the large marketplace websites such as EBay or Amazon. Look at what they list as their most popular products.

Brainstorm: Start by creating a list of phrases you think people would use in searching. This will become your intuitive word list.

Analytics: If you have an existing site, check your web analytics. Look at conversion rates for various keywords. Which phrases have the lowest bounce rate and the greatest time on page.

Competition: Go to your competitor websites. What phrases are they using that apply to what you sell? If you go to their web page and click on view source in your browser, you can look at the keywords they list in their META Tags. You can also go to sites like keywordspy.com, spyfu.com or compete.com to uncover which phrases they are targeting.

Customer: You will want to think like your customer, not an industry expert. Did you know most realtors instinctively want to be found for “real estate for sale” yet most people actually search for “homes for sale”? Think about what your customers ask for when they call you on the phone.

Local: Are you competing in a local or a national market? It is much easier and faster to get ranked for local phrases (broad terms + city or other geographic descriptor). Your local area is where 80% of your sales come from.

Keyword Tools: To do your keyword research there are a number of good keyword research tools. These can range from the free Google Keyword Tool to one time software charges like Market Samurai to subscription services like WordTracker. Best results come from using multiple tools, no two look at the phrases in exactly the same way.

Relevance: As you compile your keyword list, start by only selecting phrases that are highly relevant to what you offer. The wrong keywords will bring the wrong prospects. If someone typed in your targeted phrase, will they want to buy what you are selling? Don’t start by selecting phrases with the highest search volume.

Buyer Phrases: To select phrases to attract buyers, look at the number of words in the phrase. Buyer phrases are longer. Buyers will typically use phrases with 3-5 words or even longer. Researchers look for short phrases (1-2 words) and they are very general. Buyer phrases are very specific and will include things like make and model or specific locations or details as searches get refined.

Demand: Now make your selection based on search volume (demand) and number of competitors going after the same phrases. You want to select the highest volume phrases that are highly relevant and hopefully that have the lowest competition. Lower competition means you will get results quicker and at a lower cost.

Page Plan: Create a page plan for your website and assign 1-2 keyword phrases to each page of your website based on your research.

Implement: If your keywords are for organic SEO, apply them to the most relevant pages and use them in the visible text. For blogging, articles and social media campaigns use the phrases in your titles and visible text. If you are creating a PPC campaign (pay-per-click), you will want to use these phrases in both your ads and on your landing pages.

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