A Brief Beginner’s Guide to SEO Keyword Research

The purpose keyword research is to determine the words that potential customers or clients are typing into their search engine when they’re searching for a service or product that you offer.

Once you know the what keywords are being used most often in searches relevant to your company, you can create content relevant to those keywords. This content will serve 2 purposes:

1. It will provide readers with relevant information and answers to their questions.

2. It will attract the attention of search engines and be ranked highly in their search results.

Relevant and informative content is the cornerstone of effective SEO. The right keywords are the foundation of that content.


How to Find Your Keywords

There are many free keyword research tools available to help you find the relevant keywords that are used most often. Two of the most popular ones are Google Adword’s Keyword Planner (you need an account to use it) and Wordstream.

But the best place to start is with a little thought and brainstorming. How do people currently find your site? If they’re coming from Google, what keywords are they using in their search queries? You can find a lot of this information in Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics for your website.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

If you were searching for your own product or service, what query would you use? Go ahead and type it into Google search and see what you get. If you don’t see you’re company in the results, you have some SEO work to do.

Let’s take an example. If you’re a shoe seller, your first thought might be to try and target the keyword “shoes”. Chances are the major brands and retailers already are organically ranking for that word, and there’s almost no way you’ll break their hold. You might decide to use Adwords to target “shoes”, but it’ll probably cost you much more than it’s worth.

Think a bit more about how people search for shoes. They probably type in something more descriptive and specific, like “black dress shoes” or maybe even something even longer like “Rockport brown dress shoes that are waterproof and lightweight”.

These longer sized queries are called “long tailed keyword phrases”. According to research,  70% of all web searches use “long tailed” queries. These queries also have a much higher rate of conversion, because the searcher is looking for something specific and is probably more ready to buy that product than someone searching for something general like “shoes”.

Ranking for long tailed keyword phrases in your particular industry or field is much more attainable with the right content and SEO.

Another way of increasing your chances of getting found is to add location to your keywords. If you sell shoes in “Smalltown, NJ” you might have great results by targeting the keyword phrase “Shoes in Smalltown, NJ”.

The bottom line is that the more targeted your keywords to the specific thing that someone is searching for, the better your chances of ranking highly.

Another thing to do is to check out your competition and see how they are ranking for various keyword phrases. Are they showing up on page one for your keywords?

With some hard work, you might be able leap in front of them. But realize that they might be putting in the work to. That’s what makes SEO so competitive and unpredictable, and why you need an SEO company that can give you an advantage.

3 Basic SEO Techniques to Help Your Content Rank Higher

Creating useful and informative content is probably the most important factor in getting Google and other major search engines to find and rank your website in the top portion of their search results. Content is definitely still king.

But great content alone isn’t enough. It’s possible to have the most amazing piece of content and still not rank for it, without applying some basic SEO techniques that attract search engines.

Here are 3 basic SEO techniques that you can apply right now to help get your content noticed by search engines and potential customers:

1. Keyword Research
Search engines don’t read content the way humans do. They search for keywords which they use to determine what the content is about. Therefore, choosing the right keywords to use in your content can determine what search results that content will be included in.

The first step in creating a piece of search engine optimized content is to decide on a keyword or keyword phrase to target. Ideally, the keyword phrase you are targeting should be something that a significant number of people are searching for on a regular basis. A great free tool to use for keyword research is the Keyword Planner tool that is part of Google Adwords (you need an adwords account to access the tool). With the Adwords Keyword Planner tool you can search for keyword ideas or for search volume on the keywords you enter.

If you own a small chain of furniture stores, you logically want to target the keyword “furniture”. Chances are, however, that huge furniture sellers are already ranking very highly for that word and they have the resources to continue doing so. So instead of focusing on the word, you want to add a bit more detail to your keyword phrase that differentiates you from the bigger competition and positions you in a more specialized niche. For example, if your stores are located in a particular city or county or zip code, you could add that to furniture to create a phrase like “furniture in Teaneck 07666” or “furniture store in Bergen County NJ”. You’ve got a much better chance at reaching page 1 of Google search for your keywords by narrowing down your keyword phrases to more directly target your specific market or niche.

2. Build Content
Once you’ve decided on your keyword phrase, you can write your content around that phrase. You should try to use your keyword phrase a few times in your content piece especially at the beginning. But make sure you’re using your phrase naturally, in context. Trying to use your keyword too much can get you flagged by Google for something called “stuffing”, which means exactly how it sounds — stuffing keywords in a paragraph solely for SEO purposes.

Here’s a “stuffing” example, using our furniture store case:
Smith and Jones Furniture if a furniture store in Bergen County, NJ. We are the only furniture store in Bergen County, NY that sells furniture that is made in the USA. We take great pride in our Bergen County, NJ furniture store, and do our best to serve the Bergen County community with all of their furniture needs.

Do you get the idea? Besides getting penalized, most people are smart enough to notice this type of crappy writing and get turned off by you and your product. I know I do.

Google’s search algorithms are sophisticated enough to tell the difference between real content that is there to inform and low quality content that is there only to fool them. Don’t be nailed for “stuffing”. Use your keyword phrases, but make sure they are in context. You can then use related words to reinforce your keyword phrases and to help Google put your content into proper context.

Writing search engine optimized content that is both user friendly and search engine friendly takes effort and skill. If you can’t do it on your own, find someone who can (contact us!).

3. Title Tag
Web pages are made up of HTML code. If you right click on any web page you’ll see an option called “view source”. Click on that and you’ll see a page of code. That’s the html code that creates the web page. HTML code is made of things called “tag”. One of these is the title tag and looks like this . Between these opening and closing title tags goes…you guessed it: the title.

The title of your page is what gets displayed in search results. If you hover your mouse pointer over the page tab you should see the title appear. The page title is one of the primary things that search engines use to determine what your page is about. It is a very valuable piece of SEO property that you don’t want to waste.

Many companies waste that valuable SEO real estate by either putting their company name in the title or something like “home” or “welcome to xyz company”. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have your company name in the title tag (as long as it isn’t too long”. But more importantly, your title tag should contain the keywords you are targeting. So the title of Smith and Jones Furniture stores should contain . You can have about 55 characters in your title tag, so you could add some more keywords or even Smith and Jones. But make sure to include your keywords in your title tag.

There’s obviously a lot more that goes into getting your content to rank highly in search engine results. But if you choose the right keywords, create a well written post around those keywords that provides readers with valuable information, and include a unique title that uses your keywords, you’ve got a good chance of convincing the search engines to give you some love.

If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your website to attract more visitors and generate more leads, download our Free Ebook – 13 Ways to Generate More Leads on Your Website.