Keyword research is one of the most important steps of search engine optimization. By researching and figuring out how your potential customers are talking about your services, you gain valuable insight into how you should optimize your site.
How do you start the keyword research process?
First, you need to choose a program that will provide you with basic search traffic results. Although there is software you can purchase that will help keep track of your efforts and provide you with helpful reports, for the beginning SEO’er, there are plenty of free tools that give you just the right amount of information on search traffic to get you started. My favorite free keyword research program belongs to the search master itself – Google.
Using Google Keyword Tool (and similar programs), you can find out, exactly, how people are searching for your services and, from that, select keywords that are relevant to your services and worth targeting.
How to use Google Keyword Tool?
No two tools will work exactly the same. But, most tools will use similar terminology when showing search traffic results. So, if you have a basic understanding of keyword research terms, you should be able to make sense of the results your keyword research tool uses. As an example, I’m going ot use Google Keyword Tool.
Let’s to say you’re in the business of selling hooded sweatshirts online. By typing the phrase “hooded sweatshirt” into the Word or Phrase box at the top of the page, you’ll be provided with relevant information on that search term.
Here’s what you’ll see at the top of the results:
In the results, you’ll notice three columns:
- Competition: This measures, on a relative scale, how many other companies are competing for this same keyword or search phrase.
- Global Monthly Searches: This shows the number of searches, worldwide, occurring each month for this term. Depending on your industry/market, you could find value in this global results column.
- Local Monthly Searches: This defaults to number of U.S. searches, but you can customize to other geographic regions with the “Locations” option on the page.
What do I do with the suggested keywords?
When you type in your search term, you’ll notice that you are, not only, given information on your selected keywords, but you are also provided the same information for related or suggested keywords. In this case, there are more than 800 keyword ideas for the search term “hooded sweatshirt.”
Sorting this list by Competition or Local Monthly Searches can help you find additional keywords that you might want to target, and that you may not have initially considered. Sorting this particular list by Local Monthly Searches will quickly reveal that the term “hoodie” is actually searched more often than “hooded sweatshirt,” yet it has a lower competition factor. This may make a good keyword to target, instead of “hooded sweatshirt.”
Reviewing this list and spotting opportunities (the list can be downloaded into Excel to help with sorting) is a key tactic to starting your search engine optimization plan.
How do you pick the right keywords out of that list?
Of course, there is strategy to selecting keywords from that list of over 800 search terms. Most everyone would love to rank #1 for a word that gets 10 Million searches per month. But, realistically, it is harder to conquer the top spots for extremely popular and vague terms, with such high search volumes and competition.
It makes much more sense to target keywords and search terms that 1) actually make meaningful sense to the actual services/products you provide, and 2) have a moderate level of very targeted traffic and competition. These are the keywords that will realistically bring in the most profit.
We can help you do some free keyword research with our search rankings report.
For more information on our Cleveland search engine optimization services, please give Skoda Minotti Strategic Marketing a call at 440-449-6800.