Keyword research simply means finding relevant keywords that will give you better results in search engines and drive more qualified leads to your website. You probably know already which keywords you want to rank for but keyword research involves looking at a number of other sources to find either more profitable, more common or long tail keywords that you can also rank for.

The process begins by finding a niche keyword and then expanding on it to find similar keywords. One way to do this is by using a keyword suggestion tool such as the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. This tool offers a thesaurus and alternative keyword suggestions for your area of business. Another tool is the Bing Keyword Research Tool which works in a similar way to the Adwords Planner, but on the Microsoft search engine instead. A third and really simple tool is Google Suggest. I look at all three of these keyword research tools below.

The importance of keyword research

The objective of keyword research is to generate a large number of terms that are relevant to the input keyword. Some of these words may not be obvious to either the website owner or the end user. A process of brainstorming then starts whereby the SEO specialist will come up with a series of other words which are related to the customer's obvious keywords. It is more lucrative to search for terms that have low competition and a high number of searches. This will make the keywords a lot easier to rank for and consequently receive a click from the Google visitor. Web pages are then created for the low competition keywords and linked to and from these web pages.

When conducting keyword research, you need to be aware of a number of factors. Firstly, make sure that the new keywords you choose are closely related to the website itself. Google uses a website relevance check so a non relevant keyword is unlikely to rank highly for your site. Secondly, remember that if you pick a competitive keyword, it will be difficult to rank at the top of the search engines. Thirdly, a keyword that has no monthly searches will generate no traffic so don't bother with these ones. And lastly, don't stuff your copy full of the keywords that you want to rank for. This is known as keyword stuffing and should be avoided.

Focus on customer intent

Lets look at an example of keyword research in action. Suppose we have a store selling crochet supplies.

A search for Crochet generates 452,000,000 results. This means that 452,000,000 are competing for this term. Its obvious I'm not going to rank for this as there is too much competition and it is not focused enough. If I change the search to crochet hooks then I get 50,400,000. This has reduced the competition by 900% and made the focus more relevant. Changing the keywords to "buy crochet hooks" brings up 2,480,000 searches and is now focused on the long tail - on people that want to buy crochet hooks. We need to think about what the user's intention is when searching. This will help us focus on what keywords they are likely to use.

Keyword research tools

There are many specialised keyword tools on the market from a variety of vendors. I'm going to focus on the free ones for now.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner

As you are focusing your search engine optimisation on Google, it makes sense to use a Google tool to do your keyword research. The Adwords Keyword planner allows you to determine search volume estimates for the keyword and generates new keywords by combining different keyword lists. You can also create new keyword variations based on your primary keyword.

Google Keyword Planner

There are some negative points about the Adwords keyword planner. Firstly, we need to remember that the tool is geared towards advertisers not SEO. You need to set up an advertising campaign to use it. Also, it hides long tail keyword data which makes it less than perfect for search engine optimisation.

Bing Keyword Research Tool

The Bing Keyword Research Tool provides keyword ideas and suggestions for your content. With Bing, all query volumes and keyword suggestions are based on organic search, not on paid search or search advertising data. The Keyword Research tool shows stats and suggestions based on up to 6 months of historical data.

Bing Keyword Planner

In addition to this, the Keyword Research tool can generate keyword suggestions in wide range of languages and countries/regions, allowing you to fine-tune your keyword ideas for the markets you serve. The downside of the Bing tool is that it uses the Microsoft search data and this isn't used as much by end users as much as the Google search database. However, it is still a reall useful, free keyword research tool.

Google Suggest

Google Suggest provides you with a live "guess" of what you are going to type into the search box based on billions of other users. This is quite a useful feature when doing keyword research as we can see immediately what other keywords people have added to their search after typing in your initial keyword.

Also, at the bottom of your search results, you'll find a box entitled "Searches related to " your keyword. Here there are 8 other search queries that other people have used related to your primary key word(s).

Final words

You can pick the best keywords through meticulous analysis of the content on your website. You can also identify the best keywords for your campaign through anecdotal and quantitative analysis. When you are trying to take your website to the next level, but are not sure about where to start, analyze the phrases within your existing content for inspiration. There are tools that can automate this process for you, but you can do this yourself simply by reading every page on your website again, and writing down a list of phrases that pop out at you.

After you have done this talk to your customers, staff and colleagues to determine what language is being used to describe your product or service. Continue to add this information to your list.

Remember that the best strategy for picking the best Keyphrases is simple. Pick the keywords with the most search volume and the least amount of competition. The longer the Keyphrase the lower the amount of traffic. However, the shorter the Keyphrase, the tougher and longer it will take to rank. The longer the Keyphrase the easier and faster it is rank.


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