Choosing the right keywords is critical for an SEO campaign. If you choose the wrong keywords, you may rank high, but miss out on any relevant traffic. One of the most effective things you can do for your SEO campaign is to do extensive keyword research before you start. An extra few hours spent doing keyword research will save you a lot of time down the road when you don’t have to retarget your campaign.

Here are three essential tools to help you choose the right keywords:

    1. Know your competition. Do some preliminary Google searches for the keywords that you want to target. What kinds of sites come up for these searches? If you’re a doctor and you’re targeting keywords that bring up WebMD, you’re likely targeting keywords that are way too competitive (though Pay-Per-Click may be a great idea in these situations). Consider more regionalized search terms including city and/or state – especially if you’re a local business. Local businesses also need to remember to utilize a Google+ Page for Local Business. This page, when linked with your site, may be able to help you rank well for difficult keywords
    2. Utilize Google’s Keyword Planner. Google’s Keyword Planner (formerly Keyword Tool) is a great tool to help you identify keywords. By using your existing site, industry, or sample keywords, the Keyword Planner will suggest multiple other keywords for you to use which you can download into a spreadsheet. Some of the suggestions are good and some are bad, but there will likely be some you will want to use and some that will inspire other keywords you may not have thought of. This is a tool primarily for AdWords, and will give suggested traffic based on AdWords budgets and bidding (and remember “local” means “domestic” – not local to your town or state), but it can be invaluable as a reference tool for organic SEO as well.

  1. Choose the keywords people use in your region. Everyone knows that different regions of the country speak differently. Targeting the keyword “soda” or “pop” depends on where the people you’re trying to reach live. So, what keywords do the people in your region actually search? One of the greatest and most underused tools for this is Google Trends. Google Trends allows you to compare search terms to estimate differences in search traffic. It then lets you drill down to specific regions so that you can see how people in your target area search, as well as giving more suggestions for searches.

And don’t forget the most important rule – the human brain. Think about the keywords a bit. Don’t just post something because it came out of Google. Some keywords sound good, but obviously aren’t what you want to target. Consult clients, patients, friends, and anyone else to get ideas. Then filter through and target the best of the best.

And as always, if you need help getting started, be sure to let us know. We’ll get you started in the right direction.

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This document was last updated on July 24, 2014