Keywords are the lifeblood of search engine optimization (SEO). As such, they are an integral and very basic part of any online marketing campaign. Much has been said about the importance of this most fundamental aspect of Internet marketing strategy. There are, however, some tactics and strategies to use that can make the process of distilling these magic words to online success much easier.

Understanding Keyword Origin

Before you even start to research keywords, you really have to understand the industry that you are working with. Even if it is your own site, the focus needs to be on figuring out how to determine the way the site appears to the public. This includes both people inside and outside of your industry.

You may be able to understand all of the layman’s terms sufficiently, but finding precise keywords can be complex. This means you have to spend some time learning the jargon of that particular business. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by reading trade publications, studying forum discussions and speaking with experts and other professionals. For example, attend some trade events and listen to how people speak.

Targeted Key Words

Just as in traditional advertising, you must research and find ways to survey the demographic audience. Search engine marketers need to ensure that their SEO campaigns target the correct keywords and search phrases. When the wrong keywords are targeted, rankings may occur that include no search requests. Just a few hours invested in ensuring that the right search words are targeted can save many months of ineffective optimization.


New business owners typically brainstorm about their product and business names, which greatly affects branding efforts. During the brainstorming phase, products and services are developed using information from partners, friends, relatives and other research. The next step is usually applying that information to align with the needs of the target audience. Finding out what customers need is essential for any business to succeed.

The same holds true for Internet marketing. The main difference is that the potential customers are located in cyberspace. In fact, even people who shop locally often begin online before heading out to make purchases. A savvy business owner would not run off to manufacture products or produce services that there is no market for. Neither should an online business begin to market until they know what potential customers are looking for.

Brainstorming keywords and search phrases should be done at the start of any SEO campaign. Begin by meeting with partners and performing preliminary research to find the words that are most likely to bring visitors to your website. Discuss the relevant keywords that describe your company products and services. Gather a list of 5 to 10 search words and phrases that best represent your offerings. While a short list of search phrases will usually not attract the amount of traffic from search engines that would make a successful website, they are still a vital tool for adding phrases to the mix.

The other part of the process is to ascertain which words and phrases people use when looking for help to use your products or services. For example, if you sell kitchen products, there are probably people searching for the best ways to use them, as well as recipes. Creating content around that information could be part of a very effective online marketing strategy. Keep in mind that these some of the words may not pertain specifically to your product or service.

Anatomy of a Keyword

When determining which keywords to use, here are some elements to consider:

  1. Does the word or phrase support content that is associated with the product or service?
  2. Can the words be used to craft content that is valuable to readers?
  3. Do the words satisfy the primary needs of the searcher?
  4. Will the words act as a first step in the action or sales cycle?
  5. Are the words worth linking to?

Keyword Intelligence

Reviewing the keywords and phrases that people use when they are searching online is akin to a form of mind reading. When you are able to see into the mind of a web surfer, you can essentially determine how to present your products and services in ways that will attract them. It really is true that actions speak louder than words. Instead of listening to what people talk about with regard to what they may do, observe what was actually done. When this information is aggregated, you will get a better understanding of which words people will use most when researching certain topics.

Armed with keyword intelligence that is relevant to your product or service niche market, you will have the unique opportunity and ability to create the most relevant website content possible, that:

  • Satisfies and aids site visitors
  • Increases the chance for conversion
  • Enhances your overall credibility

The more highly you are regarded online, the better the chance that you could be regarded as an expert. That standing can reap benefits that go way beyond what you might have imagined.

Expanding Upon Keywords

Once research is begun, you will most likely discover that the keyword arena is far broader in scope and much more diverse than expected. After initial brainstorming is completed and there is a list of 5 to 10 core words, it is time to expand the list. At this point, the goal is to further distill and identify primary research topics.

Keyword Phrases

Keyword phrases should be carefully designed and as specific as possible. For example, a lawyer in Oklahoma will probably glean very little benefit from using generic words like “attorney,” whereas, specific phrases based upon specialty and geography will naturally yield much more highly targeted web traffic (for example: “Oklahoma divorce lawyer”). This also includes synonyms, which are often overlooked.

Search Engine Research

The next part of the keyword and phrase project is to see which words are being typed into the search engines to find what people are looking for. Major search engines such as Google, MSN, Yahoo and Bing are just a few examples of where to look. Few search engines will reveal openly what search phrases are most often used. However, there are some very useful tools to use to help expand your search list.

Keyword Research Tools

Certainly, Google’s Keyword Tool is a great resource for keyword research. There are some others, such as Aaron Wall’s SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool, which includes Yahoo! search data, along with other useful metrics. However, some of the paid tools, such as Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker may provide superior results, since those proprietors are not selling search advertising.

For each topic identified, it will be necessary to conduct the entire research cycle. Some of the topics will naturally expand into a list of literally hundreds of keywords. Others may merely grow into a couple dozen keywords.

Planning and Mapping Keywords

As mind boggling as it may seem, once the keyword list has been expanded, they will be further distilled to isolate the most effective words to use.

The objective is to come to a full understanding of the entire world of keywords that surround each topic. This way, it is possible to identify the most valuable ones. The most critical part of this step is mapping. That will allow you to see where content matches exist, and where it is lacking.

If a pen and paper were used, those who have engaged in mind mapping will understand that this step would result in a tree of information that begins with a particular keyword, branching out into other words and phrases.

However, computer users would most likely use a list or spreadsheet with categories of keywords and phrases. It is helpful to use a different tab for each category, however, whatever method works best suffices.

Search Tool Results

While search tools can provide some very useful results, it is important to recognize that search results are very changeable. This is why keyword research should be performed on a regular basis. Each particular tool may provide different results that can be compared with others. However, make note of patterns, trends and popularity between search terms.

The goal here is to ensure that enough people are using each keyword and phrase with regard to your niche market. This is particularly important for the most primary search terms to be targeted for the overall site. Always be realistic about results. Rather than attempt to rank highly in competitive sectors, aim for the low hanging fruit first. This means ensuring that certain keyword combinations rank for easier phrases, until more competitive terms become more realistic to reach.

After using the best keywords for your business in targeted, well promoted content, your site will surely rise in the search rankings. Remember that search engines do not recognize relevancy, until users do it first.

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