Keyword research – the most important step of SEO

Why is keyword research so important?

Keyword research is the first and most important stage of every SEO project. Keyword research is the most important stage for two main reasons:

1. If you rank your website highly for the wrong keywords, you can end up spending lots of time and effort, only to discover that the keyword you have targeted doesn’t receive any traffic.

2. If you haven’t investigated the competitiveness of your keywords, you can end up investing lots of time and effort into a particular keyword, only to find it is far too competitive to rank, even on the first page. These two pitfalls can be the ultimate decider on how successful any SEO project is.

What exactly is a keyword?

If you are an SEO newbie, you may be wondering— what is a keyword? Simply put, a keyword is any phrase you would like to appear for in Google’s search results. A keyword can be a single word, or a keyword can also be a combination of words. If you are trying to target a single word, lookout! You will have your work cut out for you. Single word keywords are very competitive, and difficult to rank high for in the search results. Don’t be fooled or overwhelmed by the terminology. In some ways, ‘keyword’ is unnecessary jargon used by industry experts to sound professional, when it is just another word for a word. If, on the other hand, you love industry jargon, here are some commonly used terms to describe different kinds of keywords: Head-term: keywords with one to two words, i.e. classic movies. Long-tail: keywords with three or more phrases, i.e. classic movies with subtitles

Keyword with intent: keywords that are obviously entered into Google by customers wanting to complete a certain action, i.e. ‘buy jackets online’.

How to generate a massive list of keywords

There are many ways to skin a cat, and the same is true for finding the right keywords. Before you can find keywords that receive loads of traffic in Google, you must first develop a list of potential keywords that are relevant to your business. Relevance is vital. If you spend your time trying to cast too wide a net, you can end up targeting keywords irrelevant to your target customers.

For example, if you are selling football jackets in an online store in the United States, examples of relevant keywords might be: Buy football jackets Buy football jackets online Online football jackets store USA Irrelevant keywords might be: Football jacket photos How to make your own football jacket Football jacket manufacturers How to design a football jacket You can see how the first pool of keywords are much more relevant to the target audience of a seller of football jackets, and the second pool of keywords are related but unlikely to lead to customers.

Keeping relevance in mind, you must develop a list of potential keyword combinations to use as a resource, so you can then go and uncover the best keywords that receive a considerable amount of traffic each month in Google.

Listed below are powerful strategies you can use to help with generating this list. 1. Steal keywords from competitors. If you’re feeling sneaky, you can easily let your competitors do the heavy lifting for you and snatch up keywords from their websites. There are many tools out there created for this sole purpose, but a simple tool, great for beginners and advanced SEO pundits, is the SEOBook keyword analyzer. If you enter a competitor’s website into the tool at the below link, within seconds it will generate a pretty list of the most important keywords your competitor is using on the page. You can then use this keyword list for your research.

If you still need help with your search engine optimization keyword selection it might be time to hire an SEO company.

How to stay up-to-date with Google Updates

To hone your SEO skills, and make sure your website doesn’t fall into Google’s bad books, it’s important for you to stay up-to-date with the Google Updates as they are released. Fortunately, almost every time a major update is released, those updates are reported on by the entire SEO community and often publicly discussed and confirmed by Google staff.

A long, extended history of Google’s Updates would fill this entire blog, but with the resources below, you can always stay abreast of the new Google updates as they are rolled out.

This is essential knowledge for anyone practicing SEO, at a beginner or an advanced level.

Matt Cutts Twitter Feed – Matt Cutts is the head of the Google webspam team, so by following Matt Cutts, you can regularly hear about the Google Updates direct from the source. Matt often announces Google Updates through his Twitter feed, which is a must-read for all budding SEO professionals.

Google Updates by Search Engine Round Table – Search Engine Round Table is one of the industry’s leading blogs on SEO. At the page above, you can browse all of the latest articles on the Google Updates as they are published by this leading authority.

Webmaster Central Blog – The Webmaster Central Blog by Google commonly discusses new updates as they are released. They also provide recommendations for SEO best practices to be used by webmasters.