Keyword Research

Every website can benefit from some initial keyword research and analysis. Whether you are planning a new site, building content, or reoptimizing – start off with keyword research and analyze how people are going to arrive at your site.

Initial Keyword List

Start off your keyword research by building a keyword list. Try and come up with the most relevant and specific keywords you can for your site. If you only sell blue widgets, then add “blue widgets” to your list but don’t add “green widgets”.

Look into your logs for keywords that searchers are using to find your site. Your referring sites can tell you a great deal about which keywords you should be targeting. If most of your referrals are coming from sites dealing with “big widgets”, you’ll know to add “big blue widgets” to your list. Keep track of what your visitors are reading. If most of your visitors are reading your articles about “building widgets”, you might want to target “building widgets” and “building blue widgets”.

Visit your competitor sites and analyze what keywords they are targeting. Are they targeting keywords that would be relevant for your site? Add those to your list.

Your goal for this step is to build a list containing relevant keywords – targeting irrelevant keywords wastes your time and brands your site as spam.

Expand Your List

Grab your thesaurus or head over to WordNet and expand your keyword list by adding related keywords. If “thingamabobs” is another way to say “widgets”, you’ll want to add “blue thingamabobs” to your list.

Keyword Research

Now that you have your list, it is time to do some keyword research. I’d recommend loading up excel or your favorite spreadsheet program – keyword research deals with a good amount of numerical data and a spreadsheet will make things easier.

Here’s a list of things you should check during your keyword research (not extensive):

  • Overture Count
  • Wordtracker Count
  • Estimated Relevance
  • Number of Visitors
  • Conversion Rates

That list covers some of the most basic elements to keyword research. After going through the list for each of your keywords, you should have a good amount of data in your spreadsheet. (Take a look at my example spreadsheet – based off of Randfish‘s) Obviously you will have more keywords than I do.

When going through Wordtracker and Overture, remember to add keywords that you may have missed. Both tools will suggest alternate keywords that are related to your initial keyword. This is a great way to expand your list and discover new keyword opportunities. Think long tail here.

I like to do a keyword research for each month, this way you can get a calendar of keywords – some keywords are seasonal and are more popular during different times in the year. Use this seasonal data to plan your content.

I’ll tackle how to analyze your keyword research and choosing keywords to optimize for in a later post.