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Search engine optimization "how to" series: Keywords

posted September 12th 2014, 8:21 pm by Scott Hartig

The 2nd in our 7 part series on search engine optimization how to's: keywords. If you missed our first post in the series, you can find it right here: "Search Engine Optimization "how to" Series: Audience".

Developing Keywords

Selecting the right keywords will become much easier once you understand your audience personas. In addition to our first post in the series, we've written a few blogs to provide a thorough outline on buyer persona development. We explain buyer personas in this blog on what a buyer persona is, and "I have a Buyer Persona. Now what?" will tell you what to do with your new personas. Knowing what keywords/search terms your organization’s personas are likely to use and why will provide a big step forward in this process.

For example, if you own a shoe store in Milwaukee, WI, then a likely starting point will be “Milwaukee Shoe Stores”. If you own a restaurant in Waukesha, WI, then maybe something like “Waukesha, WI restaurants”.

Search Engine Optimization "How to" Series: Keywords

Keywords and Research for SEOThese are good starting points, but they may be a hard target to go after initially. You do in fact own a shoe store in Milwaukee, but your competitors also own shoe stores and, like you, they are sure to have thought of and targeted the same keywords.Instead, try providing additional detail while choosing your keywords to give you an advantage as you begin. Look for areas of separation between you and your competition. For example, if your shoe store caters towards an active lifestyle, mention athletics. If it caters towards a specific gender, mention that. For example, “Milwaukee athletic shoe store for women” may still be a challenge, but it won’t be anywhere near the same challenge as “Milwaukee shoe store”. While the simple keywords you define initially (Shoe Store) are called your main or head keywords, they also present the biggest challenge. The longer, more descriptive keywords (Milwaukee athletic shoe store for women) are called “long tail” phrases and provide the most opportunity.

Find those areas of separation between you and your competition and emphasize them; however, make sure they apply to your business and ensure they don’t pigeon hole you too much. “Milwaukee athletic shoe store for retired women” would be too far.

Track your keywords and ideas using a spreadsheet or similar. We’ve created just such a spread sheet for you to use if needed here: Google spreadsheet.

Keyword Research and Analysis

Once you think you’ve got your keywords selected, you can do final research and analysis on them using a free tool such as Google’s Adwords Keyword tool (provided you have a Google account). This should give you lots of insight into how popular the keywords are, how often they’re searched, and how much competition there is for them.

Another method is to do a basic Google search for the keyword of interest. This will provide a results page which gives a pretty good indication of who my competition is for those keywords - assuming your target market and audience is local. After this you can use a keyword density tool like the one here: David Naylor Search Marketing.

View the 3rd part in this series: Search Engine Optimization “How to” Series: Content Development

Has this blog been helpful? Are you at the next step? You may want to begin implementing good SEO tactics and procedures but you feel lost. Well, fear not, we’ve written a great eBook that covers the basics of SEO. It’s free and quick reading and will help you understand the most important elements to any successful SEO strategy.