Keyword Research Is the First Step in SEO

Keyword ResearchKeywords are at the heart of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google detects them and ranks your site against everyone else’s with the same keyword. More popular and higher quality websites rank higher in the Google search rankings. Think of keywords as the search strings you use in Google.

But you must strike the right balance between popular keywords and competition. Popular keywords have lots of people searching for them, but the competition is too high to make an impact. Proper research will reveal the keywords which are popular enough, but exist on a field where you can effectively compete.

Target Audience

Who is your target audience?

It’s a question you should always bear in mind when doing, well, anything. Research your audience and think about what they’re most likely to search for. This is the first step in proper keyword research. It narrows the field down to a few likely keywords.

For example, a website on dog food might use the keywords ‘dog food’, ‘dog food in X’, and ‘X’ dog  food’; with ‘X’ denoting a specific location.

How Will People Find Your Website?

Keyword analysis involves finding out what people are really searching for. Tools like Google Analytics ascertain how well a specific keyword performs. Just because someone thinks of a certain keyword doesn’t mean they actually find your site this way.

Proper analysis converts your initial thoughts about your target group into practical results you can act on.

Secondary Keywords

Primary keywords will always appear throughout your site. What you can’t do is spam these keywords or Google is going to hammer you. Google Panda and Google Penguin made sure spamming keywords as a way to increase exposure is a thing of the past.

Instead of primary keywords, utilize secondary keywords. These secondary keywords may be specific to a certain page, or just variations on primary keywords. There are usually more secondary keywords than primary keywords, and they’re repeated less.

Another advantage of secondary keywords is they often act as sources of unexpected traffic. Miss them out and you have zero chance of capturing these smaller groups of visitors.

PPC Testing

Pay-per-click (PPC) requires a small investment on your part. On the other hand, it gives back time because it’s a form of trial and error. PPC testing examines the viability of a keyword before you invest considerable amounts of time on off-page SEO.

Setting up a PPC campaign only takes a matter of days. When you’ve set it up, your website will appear as a sponsored advertisement for each keyword. It requires a minor monetary investment because for each click you pay a fee. The fee increases according to the popularity of the keyword.

Applying Keywords

Once you’re convinced your keywords are the right keywords, it’s time to start plugging them into your website. Start with primary keywords. Repeat these between 1-3 times per page. Adjust the number according to the size of the page. Place these on each of your pages, where applicable. If they don’t seem to fit into a paragraph, avoid trying to force them in.

Repeat secondary keywords periodically throughout your work. Only use them once or twice, and adjust them according to the length of the page. Unlike primary keywords, secondary keywords are more specific and won’t fit on every page. Again, never try to force them into the content.

Some other places to fit primary keywords are in anchor texts, page titles, Meta tags, and subtitles. These are places people constantly fail to remember to utilise. They often have more value than simply putting keywords into the text itself.

Keyword research merely sets your SEO campaign up in the short-term. Keep monitoring the results gained from keywords. If they aren’t working how you expected, look for another keyword.

On a side note, expect contrasting numbers for each web page. Your home page will have profoundly more views than a standard service page. Don’t judge a page on just its numbers. Judge it based on the number of sales it generates via Google Analytics.

About the author

John Kravz is a professional writer specializing in SEO, online marketing and technology. Click here to find out more.

About Steve Baik is a pioneer in the free search engine submission industry and has been providing valuable web tools and resources for small business owners since 1996. Sign up for our free newsletter to receive the latest info on SEO and Internet Marketing.
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6 Responses to Keyword Research Is the First Step in SEO

  1. Harwig says:

    Great article, Steve. People always tend to forget that Google relys on keywords heavily. They just write articles, set up their articles, stuff random keywords there and wonder why they do not rank within weeks.

    I would not use numbers like 1-3 per page but rather keyword density (1 percent) but the rest ist pretty good content.

  2. Eugen says:

    I think that up to 2% density is also acceptable.

  3. SEO Company says:

    I have found keyword research is a very important step in SEO. I have also learned that the client does not always know what the best keywords are. After showing keyword search volume to clients, they often say, “wow, I never thought of those keywords.”

  4. Daniel says:

    How many keywords you can place (optimally) in a single page 1000-1500words?

    • Steve Baik says:

      Keyword density doesn’t really play a big role in today’s SEO, unless of course, you are going overboard with keyword spam.

      My advice is to not worry about counting keywords and focus on the content and readability. In other words, write naturally for your users.

  5. Raushan Singh says:

    Such a nice post Steve. I personally haven’t gave more attention on keywords. But now I understand lot more about keywords.
    Thank you so much.

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