How to do Keyword Research

September 2, 2011

It’s Friday and we want to get back to the basics.

When it comes to SEO and Internet marketing, it’s important to constantly be testing everything you’re doing to ensure you’re maximizing your traffic, leads and conversions. Take your SEO campaign, for instance. Sometimes people make the mistake of choosing the top keywords for which to optimize their website and then they never return to examine how these search terms are performing or if you’re getting the positioning in the search space you need.

With this in mind, we want to offer 5 helpful ways to identify the right keyword for your search marketing campaign.

1. Relevance.

When you or your SEO consultant first did keyword research, you almost certainly started with relevance. You had to examine what were the most popular search terms for your industry and how your prospective customers were searching for your products and services. Every successful search marketing campaign starts with thoughtful keyword research based on relevance. If you can optimize your site for the very best keywords for your industry, the chances are you’re driving a lot of traffic from potential clients.

However, you need to revisit your keyword relevance every so often. (Not every month, but maybe every year.) The keyword relevance is based on your prospects’ search patterns. And while search patterns don’t change significantly overnight, you want to keep examining your source of traffic. For example, maybe 1 keyword drives traffic that converts at a much higher rate, meaning that the keyword results in more leads and more sales. If this is the case over a long enough period of time (maybe 2-3 months) then you should put extra effort into optimizing for that higher-converting keyword.

Relevancy of keyword is based on the following: popularity competition, and conversion. So how do you try to know which keywords will convert without having to wait months before you have the hard data? Funny you should ask…

2. Location-based Keywords.

If you are a business that relies on local customers–as opposed to an ecommerce site that gets all its business from online sales–then you should be putting focus into optimizing for location-based keywords. That doesn’t mean all your keywords should be location-based, but you should have at least one of your top keywords be location-based as well as have some of your website content (like 2 pages) optimized for your location.

Again, relevance of keywords is most important. You need to optimize for keywords that convert to leads and sales. Local prospects are always much more likely to convert. For instance, optimizing for “Los Angeles dentist” or “dentist LA” is way more cost-effective than optimizing for “dentist,” a really expensive keyword that, if you do get on Google’s first page, will end up driving a lot of useless traffic to your site.

3. Competition.
Ideally, you want to optimize for the very best keywords in your industry. However, SEO has become a more mature marketing tactic and it now costs more time, resources and money to get your website ranked on the first page for the very best keywords related to your industry. We’re not saying to give up on those keywords. But you should really examine your business’ core competency and optimize for the top products or services you offer as opposed to the entire industry. That way, you’re getting the best ROI for your search marketing dollars.

4. Long-tail Keywords.
Another great way to ensure you’re getting ROI for your search campaign is to optimize for long-tail keywords. For instance, optimizing for “internet marketing for lead generation” would be a good long tail key phrase, compared to just “internet marketing.” Why? Because we get credit for “internet marketing”, “marketing”, “marketing for lead generation”, “lead generation” and the original long-tail search term. So we’ve optimizing for 5 keywords instead of just 1.

5. The Right Tools to Measure Your Traffic.
While there are best practices to ensure you’re search marketing campaign is started the right way, there’s no substitute for marketing data. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Hopefully most of the decisions you made paid off, but you’ll find out after you’ve let enough time pass to measure your traffic, leads and conversions.

The right search tools will show you how your website’s performing in getting you found and converting visitors into customers.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool will show you which keywords are the most popular. Google Insights for Search shows you search trends so you can learn what your prospects are doing differently to find the products they need. And most importantly, Google Analytics has the power to show you how each keyword s really performing Is it driving traffic? To which pages is it driving traffic? Is it resulting in a phone call? Is it resulting in a sale?

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