The first step of any SEO strategy begins with an exercise to identify the keyword universe that can be used to optimize your website and content marketing strategy. Formal keyword research is important because in relation to your business, it is critical for you to know:-
1. Keywords – What keywords people are typing into search engines.
2. Frequency – How frequently they do it.
3. Relevance – How relevant those keywords are to your business
4. Competition – How competitive those keywords are to rank for.
Brainstorming:- A good exercise to identify potential keywords for your SEO strategy would be a brainstorming session. Although this is a simple exploratory process, it is one that should not be skipped. In relation to all the goods and services that your company provides, invite your fellow employees to list all the words that they would associate with those goods and services. Where the opportunity arises, I would also recommend that you do this exercise with people unconnected with your business, such as friends, family, customers, etc. This would help capture external keyword ‘connections’ that would otherwise go unrecognised.
Once you have generated your entire list of potential keywords, the next stage would be to do a relevancy sanity check, doing away with irrelevant terms, then progressing to the task of establishing the frequency, volume and competitiveness of the remaining keywords.
Frequency, Search Volume & Competitiveness:- There are a number of powerful on-line tools and resources that can be used to assess the volume, frequency and competitiveness of your potential keywords. The most popular being:
- Raven Tools (Keyword Manager) – http://raventools.com/
- SEMrush – http://www.semrush.com/ (Competitor Research)
- Keyword Discovery – http://www.keyworddiscovery.co.uk/
- Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool – http://moz.com/tools/keyword-difficulty
- Google Adwords (Keyword Tool) – https://adwords.google.com/
- Google Trends – http://www.google.com/trends/
Once you have evaluated your keywords to establish their competitiveness, search volume, frequency and pattern (seasonality), it is now time to organise and categorise them so that they can be implemented throughout your website and content marketing strategy.