Keyword Research - SEO Tutorial

The very first step in the SEO process is to research which keywords and keyphrases you should be targeting. Your goal is to be ranked well for keywords / keyphrases that are highly targeted for your service, product, industry or offering. Optimizing your pages for keywords that are too general or unrelated to the subject of your site will only bring lots of unqualified traffic that does not convert well. Since you are paying for the bandwith, you want to maximize your ROI by targeting qualified traffic.

Company Name and Product Name Keywords

Generally, you do not need to optimize your site for your company name or product name(s). Unless your business / product names are composed of generic words (like Best Buy for example), your site will naturally attain the top rankings for those keywords. Most inbound links from external sites will reference your site / pages using your company name and/or product name(s) in the anchor text. Therefore, you can concentrate on keywords that people might use if they were searching for your type of service, product or offering.

Generating Good Keywords

Get some pencil and paper. Brainstorm for 20 minutes to an hour and jot down notes. Ask yourself, if I were looking for the type of offering my website advertises/sells, how would I search for it on the internet?

When you have a good list of keywords, you can use several on-line tools to search for related possibilities:

Evaluating Keyphrase Suitability

You should now have a fairly large list of keyphrases that are good candidates for targeting with your site. The next step is to research the viability of each keyphrase. Some keyphrases are more competitive than others. When you are just starting out, it makes more sense to target the less competitive phrases to achieve some early success.

The first step in evaluating keyphrases is determining how popular they are. Some of the tools listed above provide statistics showing popularity metrics for keyphrases. While these may not translate into an exact science, they do offer a rough guage of the popularity of a keyphrase. You can also use a Google AdWords account to get traffic estimates for your keyphrases on Google without actually paying any money. If you do follow through and set up an account, you can get some actual data on the keyphrase traffic.

The next step is to determine the competitiveness of each keyphrase. While WordTracker offers a KEI analysis, it is better to do your own analysis manually. Go to Google, enter your proposed keyphrase and search. Check the top 10-20 results.

  1. Do they contain the exact keyphrase in their title, description and page text?
  2. What is their PR?
  3. How many backlinks do they have?

If the listings do not contain the exact keyphrase (not just the keywords used in phrase), have low PR and/or few backlinks, then the chances are very good that you can obtain a top 10-20 listing fairly quickly for that keyphrase.

If you would like some expert assistance with keyphrase research, Measuring Up now offers very reasonable keyword research services for website designers, SEO/SEM consultants, and "do-it-yourself" webmasters.