Guidelines for Effective Keyword Research

Knowing the keywords or keyword phrases that your customers use to search for your products and services is critical to improve your online ranking. To be more specific, when the users type the keywords or keyword phrases relate directly to your products or services, your web pages will appear on the top of the search results only if you have optimized them for such words or phrases. So keyword research or finding the right keywords is critical for success in search engine optimization (SEO). However, this can be a very challenging and time consuming task. Here are three easy steps to help with your keyword research.

Prepare a List of Different Keyword Variations

The first step is to make a list of all the possible keywords or phrases that your customers and enter them in an Excel sheet. Use these methods to search for them:

  • Know Your Customers – You know your products and services better than anyone does. So just list out all keyword combinations that might be used by your customers related to the products and services that you offer. For example, if you are selling leather bags for men and women, you can include ‘men’s leather bags’, ‘women’s leather bags’, ‘black leather bag’ and so on into the list. You can also list location specific keywords. Use the Google search bar to find as many keyword variations as possible. Just type the keyword you found and a list will appear under the bar with different combinations. You can then choose the ones which are relevant to your business. For instance, if you type ‘men’s leather bags’ on Google, you can view ‘men’s small leather bags’, ‘men’s luxury leather bags’ and more on the list under the bar (as given below).
  • Keyword Variations

  • Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools – If you have installed Google Analytics on your website, you can separate organic search visitors from the ‘Traffic Sources’ menu after logging into your Google Analytics account and view the list of keywords they used for getting into your website. However, most the results provided under this list will be ‘Not Provided’ due to Google’s secure search (redirecting all searches to https version) feature. Even so, put the keyword or phrase that you see into your own list of keywords. You can also find related information in your Google Webmaster Tools account. After logging into Google’s Webmaster site, look under Search Traffic > Search Queries in the left menu to view the top search terms people used to get to your website.
  • Check Google’s Related Searches – Search for each individual keyword or phrase that you have found and scroll down to the bottom part of the search results. You can then see several terms related to your original keyword or keyword phrase. For example, if you search for ‘men’s leather bags’, you can view eight related terms including ‘buy men’s leather bag’, ‘mid sized bags’ and more:
    Related Searches
    If any of these are relevant, include them in your keyword list.

Analyze Keyword Search Volume

The next step is to analyze the search volume. You can use Google AdWords Keyword Planner replaced the External Keyword Tool for this purpose if you sign up for Google AdWords account (which is free). You can also use other keyword tools such as Wordtracker (plans start at $69 per month). If you are using the former option, choose the option “Enter or upload keywords to see how they perform” and paste your keywords into the text box that comes up. Modify the targeting options if needed afterwards and click on the ‘Get Search Volume’ button (as given below):

Get Search Volume

You can then see a rough estimate of the average number of monthly searches that each keyword:

Monthly Searches

The minimum number of monthly searches that you should aim for depend upon the size of your audience and the profit margin of your products or services. If your market is small and your website receives average 2000 visitors a month, a keyword with a monthly search volume of 200 visitors could be quite worthwhile for your SEO efforts. However, if your market is large and your profit is marginal, then a keyword with much higher monthly search volume is advisable.

Check for Competitive Keywords

Once you click the ‘Get Search Volume’ button, you can also see how competitive Google thinks your keywords or phrases are:

Keywords or Phrases

If you are in highly competitive market, you left with no choice but to target tough keywords with low competition. However, don’t choose a keyword only because it is less competitive. Make sure that it is well-targeted to your customers.

Going by these steps can significantly reduce the time that you take to find profitable keywords for your business. Professional SEO companies offer reliable keyword research services to help businesses make the most of their online marketing efforts.