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In SEO: Search Engine Optimization Getting Started, author Jill Whalen explains the importance of site rankings and why search engine optimization is necessary for increasing web site traffic. The course covers choosing the best keywords, performing keyword research, augmenting keywords with search-friendly site architecture, creating social media networking strategies, and measuring the success of an SEO campaign.
Keyword research is the cornerstone to your SEO program. So, let's walk through the basic steps you'll perform when doing your keyword research. There are seven steps to finding the right keyword phrases. First, you want to brainstorm, then you're going to categorize. Next, you'll do the research. Then you're going to compile them, winnow them, determine the competitiveness, and choose the ones you want to use. Step one of your keyword research strategy is to brainstorm your keyword phrases.
To get you started with brainstorming, you should think about who your target market actually is. Where do they live? Does your web site target only a specific geographical area or the entire nation or even the whole world? What about their demographics? Are they mostly male or female? How old are they? What's their income? All of this will make a difference in the keyword phrases you'll target, because there may be different keyword phrases for each segment. For instance, if you were a dentist in Boston, you're likely to only be targeting the Boston area.
Your keyword phrases will have the word Boston and perhaps some other towns in close proximity within the keywords. For those of you who think your target market is everyone, while this may be somewhat true, try to narrow it down to who your best customer might be and define your target market that way. To continue with the brainstorming of keywords, listen to how other people talk about your products or services. What keywords would they use? Don't be shy about asking your customers, or your salespeople, or even your friends and your relatives.
You can even go visit blogs and forums online that might relate to your industry and learn the words they are using. You may be surprised that it's not the technical terms that you might use internally to describe what you offer. You'll also want to visit your competitor's web sites and see what sorts of phrases they use to describe themselves, but don't put too much stock in how they've optimized, as they may not actually know what they're doing nor have researched their keywords. Put all this brainstormed information into a list.
Don't worry about whether it's good or bad at this point. Now take your brainstormed list and categorize it by themes. If you sell lots of different items, the individual products or services themselves might each be a specific category. Sometimes you can't accurately do this step until you've done the next step, your keyword research first. It's sort of a chicken and egg thing, where you may need to know more about the actual keyword phrases people are using before you can categorize them. If so, it's okay to reverse this step with the next one.
Now you're ready to hit the keyword research tools. You can start with a seed phrase from one of your main categories, or if you've already got a website up and running, you can just plug your website's URL into the Google Keyword Research Tool and let it do the work for you. The next step is to compile your research. All keyword research tools allow you to export the phrases into spreadsheets. Once you download the spreadsheets, you may need to re-categorize things a bit or do your initial categorization if you weren't able to do that before you started the research.
While your spreadsheets are open, you'll want to also remove the keyword phrases that are obviously not good for your website. These include ones that are not relevant at all to what you offer, as well as some phrases that have extremely low search counts, meaning they just aren't searched upon all that much by your target audience. For this winnowing phase, you'll need to make sure you're very familiar with the nature of the business. If you're doing this keyword research for a client, make sure to have them involved in this process as they will know their business better that you will.
At this time, you should now have a pretty decent list of relevant keyword phrases, but you'll also want to know how competitive or not they are. When I talk about competitiveness, I'm talking about how many other websites are targeting those same keyword phrases. Each phrase can be broken down into a specific level of competitiveness, from highly competitive to fairly competitive, to non-competitive. Once you've determined the level of competitiveness, you're ready to choose which keyword phrases you'll actually use in your SEO program.
Basically, you'll be choosing them by looking at the number of searches they receive, the relevancy to what you offer on your website, and the competitiveness level. That's the keyword research process in a nutshell. Now that you've learned about the process, let's see it in action.
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