Performing Keyword Research

[tag]Keyword research[/tag] should be the beginning of every web page placed on the web. Instead of dumping the same old text from the brochure you created in 1987, rewrite your content from scratch with an eye toward your [tag]best keywords[/tag] and keyphrases! Here are steps to help you in your search for your very own [tag]keyword niches[/tag]:

1. Define your target market(s)

Every [tag]target market[/tag] is going to have their own way of thinking, but you should also be sure to have a unique area of your site for each target market. You might want a section for investors, a page for community members, and another section for prospects.

2. What would they search for on the internet?

Think like your audience. What would they search for? Would they mispell a keyword? Would their terms be more sophisticated than the terms you use to describe yourselff around the office? Maybe they would be less sophisticated.

a. Brainstorm keyword phases
Now look at those phrases and try to think about any possible variations. Are there more descriptive variations needed to really pinpoint the right searchers? Maybe you need to be less specific to increase the potential [tag]traffic[/tag] to your page.

Less words in the phrase will help broaden your possible audience.
More words in the phrase will help target the best.

Would you get better prospects with a targeted phrase?

b. Look keyword phases competitors are targeting on their website

What are your competitors targeting? Look at competitors you know about, but also look at who is competing for spots 1-10 in Google. What are they targeting? What niche might they be leaving out?

c. Look at keyword phases competitors are targeting using their [tag]link partners[/tag]

(We have an automated tool we use for this – email us at [email protected] for more information!)
3. Existing [tag]keyword phases[/tag] you are being found for

What better way to figure out which keywords are already working in some way?

a. Web hosting visitor log files

If you don’t have decent stats, install [tag]Google Analytics[/tag] ASAP. On most hosts, the free package [tag]awstats[/tag] is available. Also free are webalizer and analog. Any of these will tell you what keywords your site is being found under.

b. [tag]Analytics[/tag] and/or [tag]Paid campaigns[/tag]
Look at existing analytics and paid campaigns. The [tag]keywords[/tag] from your paid campaign can yield very valuable information. Keywords that result in [tag]clicks[/tag] and [tag]convert[/tag] into actual sales are like gold. These “[tag]converting keywords[/tag]” are some of the best you can target.

4. Expand the list

a. Geographic

Especially if you are [tag]targeting local business[/tag], think about where you are. Are you in a certain metropolitan area? What cities are nearby? What smaller communities? Be sure to include local nicknames like “bay area”, “front range”, etc. What county and state are you in? Include any other pertinent information – are you on a major street or thoroughfare?

b. Thesaurus / Ontology
Use a thesaurus to increase possiblities for your list. Do not judge keywords just yet – keep an open mind. You’d be surprised what searchers type in!

The ontology or category in which your person-place-or-thing keywords exist can lead you to new possibilities. For example, a book has to do with publishing, printing, authors, etc. What “has to do with” your [tag]keyword phrases[/tag]?

c. Incorrect spelling:typos, phonetic

Bad spelling and phonetic misunderstandings can also lead you in the direction of new keywords. In a recent conversation, an acquaintance told me he can see that his best prospects always spell a certain keyword incorrectly: It is for a disease that the propects have. Doctors never buy the product directly, but always know how to spell it!

d. Aggregate lists(like AOL’s leaked search data)

Giant [tag]lists of keywords[/tag] can give insight into how visitors query a search engine. AOL released acontroversial amount of searches by their visitors. Third party sites like allow you to look through the data. While it isn’t complete, it can yield valuable information about search behavior, and maybe about your keywords!

e. [tag]Google[/tag] Suggest / [tag]Overture[/tag]

[tag]Yahoo[/tag] tells you what keywords visitors searched for a month or two ago. Visit their site at:

Google offers some search numbers and keywords with their suggest tool, too:

f. Survey of automated tools

(We have several automated tools and services we use for keyword research. Contact us at [email protected] for more information.)

g. Repeat the process

Did you get several new keywords? Now be sure to add on your geographic and other variations. Did your list just get MUCH bigger? Good!

5. Find the least [tag]competitive terms[/tag]
Of course, it is always best to go after the least competitive keywords. To figure out which keywords have the best ratio of searches to competition, figure out the [tag]KEI[/tag]. We have automated tools that figure this out, but try the manual method for a few of the keywords you think might be real gems:
a. KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index)

KEI = (# of monthly searches) / (# of exact results in Google)

Gather (# of monthly searches) from the overture tool above

Gather (# of exact results in Google) by searching for the your “keyword phrase” in the titles of possible competitors:

allintitle:”keyword1 keyword2 keyword3″

b. Examine [tag]PPC bids[/tag]

Looking at bids – especially in overture, but also with Google’s AdWords estimator tool – can tell you which keywords are the most competitive. So easy to see, and look – no math required!

This article contains many of the tips we give for [tag]keyword research[/tag]. Have other tips? Leave a comment! We’d love to add your tip to the list!

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