Keyword Research has been touted as the most important foundational element to a strong SEO campaign. But where do you start?
There many SEOs that to this day begin the Keyword Research process with a tool such as Wordtracker, the Adwords Keyword Tool or Bing Webmaster’s Keyword Research tool . This however is one of the worst ways to start the KR process. In fact, this should be one of the last points of focus in your research for targeted terms. These tools will serve as a validation of search volume and potentially as an aid to find additional terms of focus.
The first place I start with any Keyword Research process is the company itself (when working with B2B and B2C clients). I task marketing team members with quizzing internal associates with what terms they feel represent the company and its offerings. I will also mention that I make a strong point to reinforce that company employees remember to “get out of their heads, and into their customers.” With this, we have to remember that internal communication often refers to products as acronyms or model slang. This may not be how your customers are searching for products. Finally I look at the site, ask myself and my client what the mission of the site is. What are we trying to do here, is it to inform or sell?
Now, I have a pretty good start at a seed list thanks to my client and their internal force. Now I can take this list and begin to expand upon it. I then take terms from the seed list and search for them in Google. The Auto Suggest feature will also show similar terms for my queries. While there is no search volume data associated with these terms it does help to get an idea for how these keyword topics are searched.
While there may be some overlap here you also need to scroll to the bottom of the page for these seed term search queries to view the searches related to these keywords.
The use of Google Insights can provide powerful seed list additions. This allows you to quickly see if a keyword topic is growing in demand, waning, showing stability or experiencing seasonality. Another great component of this tool are the sections of Top Searches and Rising Searches. This will help point you in the right direction as to what search terms related to your keyword topic(s) are going “hot.”
Accidental Rankings and Current Drivers
Accidental rankings? Yes, this is what I call them. A quick review of Google Analytics but also Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries section can help show you terms you currently rank for and one’s that you may have not intended to rank for. A review of Google Analytics will show top non-branded keyword referrals and thus opportunities to expand upon existing search presence.
Hit the Tools
Where many would have started, you are just now arriving. However, you have a better understanding of the term categories you will need to cover. You will also have a much better idea of how web users search for these terms. This will allow you to build a keyword list that does not have to be grossly sliced and diced to find your ending keyword set.