It is essential to distinguish the technical part of SEO and the strategic one. Developing a strategy in SEO involves keyword research. The reason is obvious; when you have a website optimized for wrong keywords the result can be real a nightmare for you and your client.
As an SEO professional you will probably have some resources, an extended brief on what the website is trying to market or maybe some sessions with a representative of the organization.
If you are more than lucky, in cases of website re-launching, you may have access to the metrics of the previous online presence. This means that you will be able to make an in depth analysis of the project needs. If you don’t have access on the previous Google Analytics account you can check the Search Queries tab of Google Webmaster Tools platform in order to see the keywords that bring more traffic on the site. Last but not least make sure you check the landing pages by using the Keyword Analyzer tool. Note the keywords with high KeywordRank and select the most relative ones.
Tip: Find the search traffic sources and check which keywords are generating quality traffic.
Before starting your research, it is very important to answer the following questions:
- What is and what isn`t the product/service?
- What is my target audience?
- How would I search for this product/service?
- What is the search volume of these keywords?
- What keywords our competitors are using?
When you know from the beginning the profile of the target audience, you can be prepared to communicate effectively in the proper frequency. In case of search you must do the same: Define the target audience.
Analyze the target audience
By trying to correlate the demographical data with the product info, you will export some valuable information for your audience: Some keyword ideas, Jargon, product names, stakeholders etc.
Tip: Short surveys and focus groups are some good ideas to get the first keywords.
Create a Keyword list
The first step is to start grouping the categories of the website by themes (an excel sheet can be valuable here).
The second step is to take a paper and a pencil and write down your first thoughts. Think of what keywords would you type in to find this website and create a broad list of keywords and key phrases. This will be the main body of you keyword list. My suggestion here have a second look with clear mind few hours later. This will help you see clearly the strategy from a different viewpoint.
Use Social Media
Enrich your list with information found within the Social Media discussions.
Tip: Dive into the audience, search through social media and ask people where to find what you are looking for. This will help you create an additional keyword list.
When the second list is ready you will come up with a wide list of keywords that you must trim.
Real example: Here’s what I found in 10’ of searching on Twitter and StumbleUpon for “mobile accessories”:
- Phone accessories
- Handheld accessories
- Mobile products
- Mobile Phone and Chargers Products
- Htc accessories
- Htc phone accessories
- Mobile case covers
- Best Mobile Products for Kids
- Accessories for Mobile Products
By removing keywords that aren’t much relevant & targeted will assist on creasing the probability to success.
Finalize the Keyword list
If you are following those steps, you should now have a sheet with keywords grouped by categories. Now it’s time to use some technology. There are various keyword tools provide you with useful data such as search volume, trends, competition of each keyword and even more ideas.
I suggest the tools provided by Google: Google keywords tool and Google insights for Search. They are free and easy to use:
Note: keyword tools are not 100% reliable so you should cross check the results with other tools or follow your instinct.
After generating your own keyword list, you can have a sneaky look on your competitors. Start by using your keywords as queries and by checking your competitors keywords on titles, description etc. Use the Keyword Battle Tool in order to find the rankings of a list of keywords for a number of domains. Then analyze their landing pages by using the Keyword Analyzer tool and see what they do in order to optimize for those terms. Try to stay focused on your business Unique Selling Proposition and avoid mentioning competitor’s brand names etc
Use the keywords wisely across the most commercial pages and avoid the internal competition effect.