SEO Keyword Research Best Practice Tips

Written by Nick Stamoulis

SEOBefore you can execute your SEO campaign, you need to perform keyword research so that you can perform your on-site optimization, which begins with the website. If your website is new, or you decided to redesign it, you’ll want to wait to do the on-site optimization until the website is up and running again.

At this stage, you’ll also want to make sure that your website is filled with plenty of useful, informative content that was written with your visitors in mind. It’s better to write the content before you optimize the pages because you want to make sure the copy flows naturally. Content is written for people, not the search engines!

After the content is written, you can begin the on-site optimization phase, which means that you’ll need to come up with a detailed keyword list. This is the approach we take for all our full service SEO clients! Here are the steps that we use when putting together the keyword list that we use during the process:

Step 1 – Review Every Page

Before you start searching for keywords, you’ll want to thoroughly read each page on the website. Every page needs to be optimized, and the goal is to really understand what the intent of the page so that you can find the best keywords that will attract the kind of traffic that you want.

After you read every page, go back through and read it again. This time, make a list of possible keywords that you think a searcher might use to land on that page. This is your starting point for finding great keywords, so the list should include both broad and niche keywords.

Step 2 – Use a Keyword Tool

We find that when we put together our keyword list for our full service SEO clients, it’s best to get the information straight from the source. The Google Keyword Planner is free to use and contains all the information we need to find a great list. If you’re partial to some of the paid keyword research tools, feel free to use those. However, you should always cross-reference those results with Google’s so that you can come up with the most effective list possible.

Using the tool, insert the keywords from your brainstormed list one at a time. The tool will generate a list that includes that keyword along with others that the tool thinks are related.

Here are a few diagrams that show what to expect when you use the tool:

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.02.28 AM
Once you enter the keyword phrase and click “Get Ideas” the tool. In this example, we are searching for keywords for a software company. The tool will return a list that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.25.28 AM


Step 3 – Scrub the List

This step is where the human element comes in. Remember, the tool is just a computer. Not all of the keywords that it suggests will fit or make sense. Go through and eliminate any of the ones that aren’t appropriate. The main idea is to find the keywords that most closely relate to the content on the page. Paste the “good” ones into a new document. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each keyword on your original list.

Step 4 – Scrub Again

Once you have a complete list of good keywords from all of your brainstormed keywords, go through and look at them again. You want to go through and do this step more than once because you want to be as thorough as possible! It’s all too easy to miss keywords in the first round. In this stage, you’ll also want to consider the competition and search volume, as well. Remember that it’s better to have a list that you believe to be “too long”. Once it’s time to optimize the pages, you’ll have more keywords to choose from.

Step 5 – Select

As mentioned above, it’s okay to have more keywords in your list than what you’ll need to optimize the content. Best practice is to select only 2-5 keywords per page of content. If the content on the page is only a few hundred words, 2 keywords may be sufficient. Use your judgment and choose the keywords that will best

This is the approach we take for all of our full service SEO clients. We understand that there are two basic elements that work together. While we always use keyword tools to help us find the keywords, there is always a human element. We understand that keyword research can take quite a bit of time, but that it is extremely important to be as thorough as possible.  The only way to do this is to understand that the approach is part science, part art. After all, these keywords will lay the foundation for your entire SEO campaign!

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