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Keywords for Search are paramount. When we use the word ‘keywords’ we don’t necessarily mean individual words, but whole phrases.

A ‘keyword’ is whatever someone types in the browser. They can type in ‘turkey’ or they can type in ‘how to roast a turkey.’ When you create your list of top keywords, you want to be sure to include common keyword phrases people are using.

Before you can start your keyword research, you need the right tool. There are two primary tools on the market, Google Adwords Keyword Tool and Market Samurai. The Google tool is easy to use and it’s free. Market Samurai is a bit more robust although there’s a subscription rate.

Open the Google Adwords Keyword Tool or Market Samurai. Follow these steps to create a high quality keyword list:

Natural Keyword. What is the #1 keyword you imagine people would type in to find your site? It could be ‘car repair shop,’ or it could be ‘transmission.’ Type it in and see what comes out. Write down all the entries that either have high numbers or that others are not optimizing for. Only those that are relevant to your website should be included.

Top Keyword Search. From your shortlist, you will probably find a keyword that rises to the top. It will be relevant and will have excellent search results. Do a second search using this keyword. This will give you a related list. Cross check this list with the one you just made. Add any keywords you missed.

Competitor’s Keywords. Do a Google search for your top keywords. What is the #1 website that shows up for this search? Copy the URL and paste it into the Google Keyword Tool in the appropriate field. What related keywords appear for this website? Cross check them with your list.

Keyword Phrase List. From your list, pull out all the top keyword phrases. Order them. The ones at the top will have the highest numbers but the least competition. Highlight the top 5 or 10.

Keyword Word List. Now pull out all the individual words that keep appearing. This should give you a list of another 10 or so keywords. You can use these individual words throughout your site. For example, if you discover ‘car’ is very popular amongst your target market but ‘truck’ or ‘van’ or ‘automobile’ isn’t, use ‘car’ instead of these other related words whenever you can.

Depending on whether your target is local or international, you’re going to use this list differently.

If you’re local, you’re going to probably optimize for a larger number of these keywords because the competition is not quite as fierce for them. If you’re international, you’ll probably want to focus on the #1 keyword phrase for now and pepper your site with the other phrases and individual keywords just to make sure they’re represented.

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If you’re selling something online, you’ll want to use keyword phrases that indicate people are looking to buy. ‘Telescope Reviews’ is likely more useful keywords than ‘Star Gazing’ because the people who are using the word ‘reviews’ are in the market to buy, while those looking to ‘star gaze’ are only searching for information. It’s a lot easier to convert someone who is in the buying mood than one who is not. Consider using keywords such as review, compare, sale, and free (if it’s in your business model to up-sell people who want to try something out for free).

You want to make sure you can compete for your primary keywords.

Don’t optimize for a keyword that has a lot of competition.

For example, if there’s a keyword with only 10,000 monthly searches but it has very little competition, it will be easier to rank for it than one with 1 million searches that everyone is optimizing for. ‘DIY iPhone camera lenses’ probably has very few people searching for it. It will be relatively easy to optimize for this keyword. ‘iPhone cases’, on the other hand, is going to be fiercely competitive.

Come back next week for more Search Engine Optimization tips!

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