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Tips and Tricks to Keyword Research, Part 1: Taking a Step Back

(Photo credit: Flickr user XIGLER)

All referrals start with the keyword. A positive SEO strategy understands brand and location, promotes creativity, and is the path to getting you referrals. Last year Cobalt’s Jon Goad discussed the power of keywords on dealer websites ( Jon’s strategies are certainly fundamental, but we need a starting point. Keyword research helps us identify and meet the goals of our sites.


Keyword Research Questions to Ask Yourself: Who, What Why, Where?

Keyword research always begins with questions. Ask yourself the following and you’ll find yourself having a much easier time identifying the keywords for your SEO strategy. You’ll also gain valuable insight into who your referrals are.

  • Who does your site to serve?
  • What are your top products and services?
  • Why should customers choose your site?
  • Where are you located and where are your potential referrals looking?

A quality SEO strategy is based around the search strategies of the potential customers. When you ask yourself the questions above, always imagine being the customer using the search engine.


The Fifth and Sixth Questions: Other Factors to Consider

  • How does your geography get identified?
  • Do people know your brand?

After you’ve nailed down the basics to your geography strategy, it’s crucial to think about the culture behind the geography. Consider implementing relevant nicknames and acronyms. Other great geographical identifiers may include counties, regions, metro areas, or, for denser urban areas, neighborhoods.

If you’re stuck, you can always try free keyword research tools available on the web. These can help generate new ideas and validate your strategy.

Free Google Keyword Research Tools:

  • Google Adwords – This tool allows you to find new keyword ideas, estimate traffic for your current or potential keywords, and also identify irrelevant keywords. You can generate ideas based on your current keywords and categories.
  • Google Insights – This tool allows you to see what phrases people are searching for based on regional interest. It is helpful in identifying new target markets and understanding current search trends for you industry.

Keyword research in any SEO strategy can often feel overwhelming. Indeed, it is a never-ending, experimental process.  After you conduct your research, don’t implement all your keywords at once. Start with the basics, such as your brand and hometown, before moving forward to expand or reduce.

After you’ve implemented the keywords, make sure you monitor them before removing or changing them. Give the keywords time to start ranking well on the search engines. Typically three months will allow the search engines to rank your site, though it might take longer. Often external factors like market changes and other marketing campaigns can affect ranking and traffic. Search engine algorithms updates can also have an effect on keyword performance. Make sure you track how your customers are discovering your site and how you could tweak your strategy using a tool like Google Analytics, and stay up to speed on the technology by following SEO blogs. There are always more options for your strategy than you can initially implement, and many more for you to discover along the way. By matching the effects of external factors with your internal keyword optimization, you can ensure your site is reaching its potential. At the end of the day, the most important part is staying on top of the keywords you’ve chosen and the strategy you’ve decided.

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