Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner's Guide

Louise Armstrong
by Louise Armstrong on February 25, 2012 in Visibility
Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook

Keyword research is fundamental to your SEO efforts—so much so that without it, your online business can’t and won’t be found by the right people.  Taking the time to carefully research your keywords will pay off big in more traffic, more qualified leads and more conversions.

It's important to choose keywords that are profitable for you.  If you’re a beginner to keyword research, here are a few tips for finding the keywords that work best for your business:

1. Use keyword research tools
This is a good starting point for you if you aren’t sure which keywords best describe you, and which ones are likely to be used by web searchers.  The Google Keyword Tool is free to use and will help you target your keywords precisely.  There are others as well, so check them out.

2.  Look at your current ranking for search terms
Utilize research tools to find out which terms your site is already ranking for.  This gives you a set of priority keywords upon which to build your list.

3. Check out the competition
Top-ranking competitors are a rich source of information about how to focus your keywords.  Once you establish a set of keywords for your business, you can see how others in your industry are using them, which are working best and which ones should be eliminated.

Keep in mind, though, that what works for the other guy may not work as well for you.  Study your own results by analyzing which words searchers are using to find you, which keyword choices result in the most qualified leads and even what topics people are discussing on your social media accounts. 

4.  Determine relevancy
Calculate the relevancy of your chosen keywords to ensure that people using them will be interested in your site.  The more specific the keyword, the more relevant it will be.

For example, a keyword such as “pet supplies” will not bring people to your door.  It’s general and highly competitive.  But, long-tail keywords such as “pet supplies Chicago” or better yet, “cheap pet supplies downtown Chicago” will bring your target market straight to you.

5.  Analyze and adjust
As with every aspect of your online marketing campaign, keyword research never really ends.  Once you have a good set of keywords to work with, be sure to continue monitoring results.  When the data starts coming in, adjustments can be made to the list that reflect how well or how poorly certain keywords are doing.

There are many tools out there designed specifically to help online marketers choose the keywords that work best for them.  Create your list, refine it and experiment with it until you have a core group of solid keywords that bring customers to you.  Then, use your awesome keywords to create the content that keeps them coming back for more.
Louise Armstrong

Louise Armstrong

Louise is a Senior Digital Strategist at Bonafide. A pop-culture addict with a passion for all things digital. She's Scottish by birth, but don't ask if she likes haggis...