Keyword Research: Getting Started
In order to attract search engine traffic, you need to discover the words and phrases that your target audience uses when searching for the information, product, or service you offer. This process is called keyword research.
Step 1 – Set your SEO goal(s)
Like anything else you do, you’re far more likely to get good results if you have specific goals in mind. Your website has a lot of jobs to do, which may include any or all of the following:
- Attract new traffic
- Grow your mailing list
- Educate and inform your market
- Sell your products and programs
- Show off your expertise
- Provide background information for potential partners and the press
Identifying what you’re hoping to accomplish is an important first step in developing your keyword strategy.
The amount of time you invest in keyword research should be appropriate to your goal and your current activity, whether you’re writing a blog post, optimizing your existing content, creating a page to promote your latest product or service, or developing an entire website for your business.
Please note that it may not be realistic to expect a good search engine ranking for the keywords you choose. In very competitive industries, the search results tend to be dominated by large organizations with huge budgets for keyword research and SEO.
Step 2 – Identify your target market
To create content that will appeal to someone who’s likely to purchase your products or services, you need to identify your target market. After all, if you don’t know who they are, how can you figure out what they’re searching for?
Once you have a clear picture of your target market in mind, you can begin your keyword research and start to develop your SEO strategy.
Step 3 – Make a list of keywords
Keeping your goals and your target audience’s mindset in mind, answer the following questions.
- What are they looking for?
- What search terms will they use to look for your product or service?
- What problems does your product or service solve?
Write down as many answers as you can think of. If you have a good handle on your niche, you can probably come up with quite a few keywords that your clients might use at each stage of your sales funnel.
Step 4 – Expand your list of keywords
Next, make a list of one- or two-word keywords that broadly describe what your site is about. These are often referred to as short-tail keywords or seed keywords.
Use this list to generate additional keyword ideas.
In addition, come up with some two- to three-word keyword phrases as well as long-tail keywords consisting of four or more words that will attract traffic to your site.
This is important, because short keywords tend to be fairly broad, so there are a lot more sites competing for that traffic. Since longer keywords are more specific, there’s less competition and a better chance your content will address the needs of the person searching, increasing the likelihood they’ll take action.
Your website analytics can also be a valuable tool, as they will reveal the keywords people are already using to find your site.
Lastly, look for related terms in blog comments, social media hashtags, and anywhere else people are talking about topics relevant to your business. Add these to your list.
Step 5 – Organize your keywords
Select the keywords and phrases you think are important to rank for, and that your target customer is probably searching for, and assign them to the appropriate buckets.
Keep in mind this is not your final list! The point of this exercise is simply to gather the phrases your target clients might use to search for content related to the topic of the bucket.
Next Step – Research your keywords
In my next post, you’ll learn how to conduct further research so you can determine which of your keywords to focus on.
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