There’s no avoiding how fundamental keyword research is to the natural search marketing process. Without it how will you know if your site is sending the right relevance signals to search engines? Without them how will you measure your performance? (Admittedly ranking reports are rapidly becoming less and less relevant though they still have a place in most clients KPIs) How will you know you’re looking at the right competitors when carrying out back link analysis?
However despite this inescapable performance I think many SEOs don’t give keyword research the attention it deserves. There’s lots of different ways to skin a cat but here’s a few ways to try and make your keyword research work a little better.
What’s already on the site – unless you’re working on a brand new site you’d be naive to ignore what’s already there. I like to take a print out of the site and go old school with a highlighter pen. The chances are this isn’t going to capture every variation but it’ll give you a strong starting point.
Which keywords are narking the client – it’s a fact most clients when they begin looking for a search agency or leave an existing supplier it’s a desire by the marketing manager or their bosses to gain visibility on certain terms. You can explain that it’s about traffic and conversions, and they’ll understand that, but if you can gain movement on those particular phrases you’re going to please the client. So they have to make an appearence your list.
Where’s the traffic – all keyword research needs to take into account where the traffic is, there’s a chance you might find all the keyword you’ve found already have no volume, if that’s the case you need to expand your list. Also use suggestion tools, there’s plenty out there but my first stop is always Google’s freebie tool.
Mind the gaps – another step where I like to go analogue, print your keyword list in alphabetical order, where are you missing terms. Do you have every plural variation? What about the sequence of words, are there shorter terms which could be combined into longer but more precise searches?
Understand the trend – if you look at the volume of terms be aware it’s only a snap shot. Take into account almost every sector there will be seasonal variations. A great bookmarklet to have on hand is this Google trends tool, type into Google your keyword hit the bookmarklet and it’ll show you the trend of search volume over the last couple of years. Tip picked up on GoogleTutor via Social Desire
Start big then narrow your list – when compiling keyword research I like to create a huge shortlist then narrow it down to a select few based on traffic, competition and relevance to the business. If you’re not prepared to create a huge list initially there’s a chance you’ll miss the golden goose…