Basic Keyword Research

Tools required: An Internet Browser ( I suggest FireFox) and a spreadsheet program (such as MS Excel)

The first thing you need to do after attending an eye-opening seminar such as the one we just sponsored is to sit down and start building a foundation.  That foundation will help you decide your future plans and paths.

This foundation show start with some basic keyword research.  I say basic, although in reality I mean detailed.  Keyword research can be a bit monotonous and boring, but without it you'll be like a pilot with no flight plan.  It is essential that you understand where it is you are going before you take off.  So let's get started.

Dumb it down

Keywords. What are some generic words that would describe your business?  You may already have a list of words that your web designer asked for (we'll leave why he/she asked for them for later).  Make a list of 20 or so words that explain your products, your services, your industry.  These need to be high level words that give you an overall summary of your industry.  If you handed this list to a stranger, they'd have a generally good idea of what it is you do.

Buzzwords and Lingo

Many industries have special words or acronymns that are only understoof within that immediate circle.  Avoid industry buzzwords that won't be used or understood outside of your area.  The only exception to this is if your customers understand what they're looking for.  If you sell guns, M1A1 may be better and more specific than 'machine guns'.  Write them both down.

Branch it out

Now start branching out your generic list.  If you sell mattresses, writing 'memory foam' and 'coil spring' count because they are two separate items under the same mattress umbrella.  Same goes for multiple revenue streams. If you do 'computers', you also may do 'PC repair' and 'website design'.  Get a bit more specific than just your high level words.

KW Research 101

Once you've got a decent list, it's time for a little fun.  Type these words into a spreadsheet.  You may want to make a separate sheet for each word, because you're going to end up with a nice list of similar words for each of your starter words.

Now head over to Google and check out the Google Suggest tool.  Simply start typing in your first keyword in the search box and see what Google 'suggests' as similar phrases and word combos.  Type in the ones that pertain to you.  Rinse and repeat for each phrase.

You'll soon find out that there are some great phrases & keywords that you totally missed when writing your short list. Soon your head will be buzzing with new words.  As you come across these foundation words, start a new blank sheet for each one so that you can come back to it in the future.

KW Research 102

For a little bit more research, head over to Google's AdWords program.  This is their pay-per-click advertising medium, but we can use it to get some great keyword ideas, and it won't cost a dime.

Start a new campaign, name it something like 'KW Research'.  Put in an ad as if you were advertising, and soon you'll be presented with a nice list of words that could also work for you.  Obviously the more keywords Google gives you for your ad, the more money they can make.  Add all the keywords that are relevant to you and finalize your campaign.

Once you've completed the campaign, go back and pause the ad campaign so you don't actually get charged anything.  Now that it's paused, you can go back into your keyword list and export it to Excel (fancy, huh?) or do even more research on your other terms.

There are plenty of other keyword research tools, but these are two of the very basic.  They'll get you on your way to establishing a nice list for your SEO campaign.  Building these lists also help you understand your industry a little better, and may be eye-opening when you see just what your customers are typing in to find you.

Want to learn more? Check out our webinar on keyword research

About 

Will Hanke owns Saint Louis' top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis' most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.

One Comment

  1. Jason December 18, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    General keywords are really hard to rank for lately, I’ve found using longtail keywords are easier to rank for.

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