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    Keyword Research

    Adopting a manual approach to keyword research and selection can seem like a daunting task; particularly if you have no prior knowledge or experience, Get it right and the rest takes care of itself – get it wrong and your entire strategy suffers as a result. This is why small and large businesses alike often hire help, involving third-party digital strategists to help them find the most appropriate keywords for their campaigns. Nevertheless, DIY keyword research and selection is not impossible.

    There are just three basic steps that need to be followed, in order to identify, narrow down and ultimately select the perfect keywords and search terms for your business.

    Prioritising Keyword Popularity and Relevancy

    Before getting started, it is important to highlight the two qualities that underpin all aspects of keyword research – popularity and relevancy. Self-explanatory in both instances; popularity refers to the frequency with which a keyword is used, while relevancy indicates its relevance to the text or page in question.

    While the complexities of in-depth keyword research and selection can be difficult to master, the basics are surprisingly easy to grasp. If you have already conducted a viable amount of audience research and competitor analysis, you should be in a perfect position to identify the keywords necessary.

    This three-step process outlined in brief below will help.

    Step 1: Initial List

    Step 1: Initial List
    • This is the part of the process where anything goes, and everyone involved should be encouraged to share their ideas; brainstorm with your employees and ask anyone that knows your business which words and phrases they would use to find it online.
    • Always remember throughout the process that keyword research only works when adopted from the perspective of the customer. It is not you, your colleagues or your competitors who are searching for your business online – it is your target audience; this is where polls, surveys and direct questions by email can help.
    • Take the time to look into the keywords and search terms your competitors are using, along with how they are ranking in the SERP listings.    Analyse their content to determine how they are using keywords to such and take note of any weaknesses you could potentially leverage.
    • It is also important to thoroughly analyse your own website and its content, you can use analytics to find out how people are finding your pages in the first place and which search terms are bringing them your way.
    • After completing all of the above, you should be in a position to begin narrowing down your initial list of search terms. There is no ‘golden rule’ as to how many you should keep or eliminate, but limiting things to around 15 or less will make the subsequent steps easier to negotiate.

    Step 2: Evaluate Keywords

    Step 2: Evaluate Keywords
    • This is the part of the process where anything goes, and everyone involved should be encouraged to share their ideas; brainstorm with your employees and ask anyone that knows your business which words and phrases they would use to find it online.
    • Always remember throughout the process that keyword research only works when adopted from the perspective of the customer. It is not you, your colleagues or your competitors who are searching for your business online – it is your target audience; this is where polls, surveys and direct questions by email can help.
    • Take the time to look into the keywords and search terms your competitors are using, along with how they are ranking in the SERP listings.    Analyse their content to determine how they are using keywords to such and take note of any weaknesses you could potentially leverage.
    • It is also important to thoroughly analyse your own website and its content, you can use analytics to find out how people are finding your pages in the first place and which search terms are bringing them your way.
    • After completing all of the above, you should be in a position to begin narrowing down your initial list of search terms. There is no ‘golden rule’ as to how many you should keep or eliminate, but limiting things to around 15 or less will make the subsequent steps easier to negotiate.

    Step 3: Make Your Final Selection

    Step 3: Final Selection
    • You should now be in a position to determine which of the initial keywords you came up with are popular, relevant and viable enough to be used in your campaign. In addition, the Google Keyword Tool will also provide you with an additional list of suggested keyword ideas, based on those you entered – many of which could prove invaluable.
    • You can also use the Google Keyword Tool to check monthly searches by way of geographical locality, while identifying peaks and troughs at different times throughout the year. This is all information that should be noted and stored, to help you make strategic decisions based on seasonal variances.
    • Making your final selection at this stage should be fairly easy, as it is as simple as matching few words with potential search volume to the content you intend to publish. It is essential to ensure that your keyword selection is based primarily on relevance and value to your customer – not simply the popularity of the search term.
    • Keyword research should never be interpreted as a one-time-only project. Irrespective of how popular any given search terms may be today, they could be rendered largely obsolete within time.
    • Keyword research should therefore be woven into your digital strategy as a regular activity, ideally conducted on a quarterly basis if time and resources permit this.
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