Many people ask me what my job is; “I’m doing SEO”, I reply, and I immediately know what will come after. ‘What is SEO?’, they ask, just as I would expect.
SEO, technically means search engine optimization. Basically, it helps to increase a website’s visibility to search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. For many businesses today, especially the businesses that are purely online, I cannot stress more why search engine marketing is so necessary and important.
But where to start?
It all begins with words typed into a search box. Keyword research is one of the most important and valuable activities in the field of search engine marketing. Ranking for the right keywords can get the right visitors to your site:
Generate keyword ideas
Before jumping into keyword research, you need to ask yourself:
1. What are the relevant keywords to your website content and your business?
2. Will users be happy with what they find once they land on your site related to those keywords?
3. Will this traffic result in any financial return if they convert to a customer once landing on your site?
If your answer to all of these questions is a clear ‘Yes’, then proceed.
You should brainstorm and generate a list for your keywords, which includes branded keywords and other terms that people would use to search for your site. Also remember to check your competitors’ website so that you know what other businesses in the same niche are targeting. The recommended tools to check on your competitors are:
Open Site Explorer
Now you can head over to the Google Keyword Research Tool to look up each keyword’s search volumes and competition level. Here are the basic metrics that you need to look at:
In the search volumes drop down menu, you can either look at global search volumes or narrow down to a specific national market, which really depends on your target market and where they located.
If your keywords have low search volumes, then that’s the gap in the market. If there are several variation words/phrases showing up but you don’t have them in your list, then there’s a need for your site to create content around those keywords.
There are 3 options for you to choose from: broad match, phrase match and exact match. Each of them gives you quite a different database response.
Broad match: gather data from the keyword synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations
Phrase match: wherever a keyword is used in a phrase and close variants of that phrase
Exact match: you will get results of just that exact term and close variations of the exact term.
The competition level (the green bars) gives a generic idea of how competitive your target keywords are. Some keywords are too competitive to go after as they are dominated by big companies with a considerable advertising budget that you may not have, which alerts you to think twice about your target keywords. If so, the recommended strategy is to go after the long-tail search phrases (more information about long-tail search to follow in a future blog post).
Data filtering and Mining
Once you finish the research, you can download it into a CSV spreadsheet. Now you will have accumulated lots of data to use. Based on your target market and experience, you can now weed out the irrelevant words and focus on mining the data and use them for your website and business.
If you have more suggestions for keyword research tactics or any questions, share them in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!
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