Keywords – The foundation for your SEO strategy, part 1

SEO can be intimidating. In addition to all of the interrelated, moving parts, everyone has an opinion on what works best. The key to success is taking it step-by-step, starting with keywords. Part 1 of this post covers choosing those words.

Keywords are the foundation for your SEO strategy. Without strong keywords, the most optimized page on the internet won’t capture a single customer.

Take a few minutes to follow the outline below, and before you know it you’ll be ranking competitively in your area. Is it easy? No. Have we taken the time to filter through all of the complex information to save you time and give you the information you need? Yes.

Step 1: Create a list of obvious keywords

When you make your keywords list, start with the generic and obvious ones first. Get them out of the way – you can decide if they’re worth anything later. Once those are out of the way, start drilling down to more industry- and company-specific words.

Feel free to include words or phrases from your other marketing campaigns. In fact, we recommend using the same words across all marketing platforms. Studies show that more and more consumers are using the internet to find out more about products they see in television commercials.

Step 2: Do some research

Ask customers: During the brainstorming phase we like to ask actual customers how they would find a product or service. This will produce a lot of keywords specific to one individual, but you may get a gem or it may spark ideas for keywords that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred to you.

Use tools: Now that you’ve got everything you can think of, and everything your customers have told you, you can add to your list by using tools like Google’s AdWords or Wordtracker’s Keyword Tool. These two tools will make recommendations for keywords related to those you already have.

The helpfulness of these suggestions is often limited. The most useful part these tools are the analysis capabilities.

Step 3: Choose the top performers

By now you should have a pretty extensive list of keyword options. Optimizing your site for every single word you produced in steps 1 and 2 would be a waste of your resources. So, instead of using them all, use those analysis tools mentioned earlier to narrow down your list to the top performers.

Google’s AdWords and Wordtracker’s Keyword Tool both show you results for how often your chosen terms are used. When choosing an analysis tool, you’re looking for the capability to compare keywords. You need to be able to see which keywords have the greatest number of searches, and the most productive results. These features should show you the terms customers are actually using to find what they actually want.

Warning: When narrowing down your list, keep in mind that just because a search term gets more traffic, doesn’t mean that it will get you better results. For example, if you sell ice cream and one of your terms is NFL, you may get a lot of people coming to your page, but you won’t get many customers that way.

The Results: A list of highly effective keywords

The keywords you are left with after your analysis will be the foundation for the rest of your SEO plan. In organizing these results, we recommend having a list of first choices and a list of second choices. If any of your first choice keywords turns out to be a dud, you can replace it with one of your already well-researched second choices.

There is also the possibility that the consumers will change their search terms and one of your second choices will become one of your top performers. By keeping a fleshed out list with multiple options, you won’t have to go through this time consuming process of generating a new list every time you need to update your keywords.

In part 2, we’ll cover how to integrate your chosen keywords into your website.

Julie is a co-founder of Hallett Peak Copywriting, a Central Illinois based freelance copywriting business. For more information on Hallett Peak Copywriting, visit You can also follow Hallett Peak Copywriting on Twitter @HPC_Ink to get updates on our business and our blog.


About Julie

Co-founder of Hallett Peak Copywriting.
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