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Step 3: Identify and Research Your Keywords

To begin with, there are some commonly understood terms in keyword search. For example, in eCommerce, the difference is understood between searches entering “free” in their search terms versus “buy.” Similarly, the search term “info” indicates desire for information over purchase. You should also consider optimizing for your keywords’ synonyms, mistypes, and keyword stemming (verb tenses). I like to use Google’s Keyword Planner, but I also like to use spy tools to identify best keywords and competitors’ sites. Again, Keyword Spy and the SEOBook Toolbar are also great for providing tools for keyword analysis and recommendations.

How to do it? Keyword research is one of the easier (but extremely important) aspects of SEO. Start by gathering the keyword and terminology suggestions from the client or approver, and likewise the keywords discovered by your digital audits. Run these back through keyword research tools and get recommendations by search volume, just as we did in Chapter 2. The goal? Identify what are the most relevant keywords with the most search volume.

Keep in mind that Google tools are great. Google is the expert and knows its own data better than anyone, but valuable tools such as Google Trends show “indexed” results rather than true search volume (see Figure 3.5). This means that Google will take the gamut of the results and distribute them from 1 to 100. So the top results shown are the top results (100), and likewise are the least. So all data is “indexed” or benchmarked. This is great for comparison, but not so good for hard volume numbers. Still, Google Trends conveniently shows not only the value of current searches for a keyword, but whether this is increasing or decreasing over time. Suddenly, that high-volume keyword phrase may not matter if it drops too low within the year. Google Trends also identifies the top geographic locations searching for specific keywords, which is also valuable to know. So suppose the top location searching for “white toilet seats” is Kalamazoo, MI. Wow—let’s do some local SEO targeting for our business there! Regardless, if a location SEO strategy is essential for the project at hand, and if desired locations don’t align with Google’s list, I like to add a location name onto primary keyword phrases for the client. If we’re targeting Chattanooga, TN, and the keyword phrase is “buy gray metal sutures,” then it becomes “buy gray metal sutures Chattanooga.”

Figure 3.5

Figure 3.5 Google Trends research.

From all this data and background, the optimizer can list recommendations on top keywords for the client or approver and get their John Hancock before creating SEO page plans. Do you think John Hancock was thinking about SEO when he signed the Declaration of Independence? His signature is easy to find!

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