Once the decision is made to implement a Search Engine Optimization program (SEO) for your website, you must determine which keyword terms you want your website to rank for in the search results page.

Keyword research should be conducted as follows:

Step 1

Think about your mission statement — what sets you apart from your competition and why your customers do business with you. Make a list of your products and services both by brand name and description. Decide your geographic region that you conduct business in. Once you have your list formed, determine what is important to you and what is not as important. Do your best to narrow down the list to what matters most to your business and eliminate secondary products or services that are less profitable or less of a focus.

Step 2

Analyze your list. Try to avoid one-word keywords and opt for longer keywords. Keep in mind that although shorter keywords receive more searches, the longer the keyword search is, the further down the buying cycle the potential customer is. It is also much harder to optimize for shorter, more common keywords. Take into account the competition in your region. If the competition is quite high, focus on how your products or service are unique and choose keywords around that. To get some ideas, do a search in Google for one of your main keywords. Scroll down to the bottom of the search results page and there may be keyword ideas in the “searches related to…” section.

Also, it is beneficial to use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool during your keyword research. Although this tool is designed for SEM or Google Adwords campaigns, the tool will also suggest alternative keywords for SEO purposes.

Step 3

Once you have determined what your ideal keyword list is, it’s time to see how well these keyword phrases align with the individual pages of your website. Does the keyword align with the content and the title of the page? If not, consider changing either your content to match your keywords, or rethink your keyword strategy.

Once you determine your keywords for your SEO plan, you can start to move forward with your implementation. Next month we will be discussing SEO tools that can assist your SEO strategy.

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