Search engine optimization is different than search engine marketing. Other than the obvious that the former is free and the latter is paid, one of the biggest differences between the two is the keyword research process.


This article discusses keyword research for SEO. To read more about keyword research for paid search click here.


Before starting any kind of search engine optimization, it’s important to conduct keyword research.


So, let’s get started



1. Start with brainstorming – Come up with a list of keywords that best represent your product, service or niche. The content on your website is going to have to include these keywords heavily, so make sure they are relevant.


The search engines rank pages individually, so it’s important to focus on all pages, not just the homepage. Each page should target keywords that are most specific to the content on that page. Targeting the same keywords on every page can result in lots of missed opportunities.



2.   Use keyword research tools – Keyword research tools are used for both paid and organic keyword research. They are a great way of getting ideas for related keywords you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise and a good way to get insight into your customers’ search behavior. To read more about the best (free) tools out there click here.


Another great tool to use is Google Autosuggest. This isn’t an actual keyword research tool per se, but it will also give you an idea of what users are looking for. Start typing your keyword phrase in the search engine and see what is suggested in the box below. One impotent note: the Autosuggest tool will give you the trendy results. There is no use in putting up a page of content if no one will search for it in 2 months. So, once you have a few new ideas go back in to the Keyword tool and see the traffic they are predicted to receive.



3. Narrow down the list – Now that you have a long list of keywords, you need to narrow down to just a few of the most relevant. When optimizing for organic search, each page of content should target 2-3 keyword phrases. The ideal keyword phrase will have a high relevance, search volume and potential to convert, but low competition. However, this is extremely rare, so do your best to pick words that are as close as possible.



4.  Don’t be too technical – Avoid heavy industry jargon. The goal of an SEO campaign is to attract new website visitors that may be in need of your product or service, but may not know or understand the technical terminology. Be sure to use keywords that will be searched for by your custumers.



5.   Find your costumers in the sales cycle - When choosing your keywords consider the sales cycle and include keywords that attract an audience that are “just looking” and an audience that is ready to shop.



6.   Dense up your contentWrite content that is rich in keywords. Each keyword you choose to optimize needs to appear in the content between 3-5%, so do your math and start counting. Beware of over stuffing! If you go over a 7% density, you’ll get diminishing results. The search engine spiders know that good content can only contain a certain density of keywords without the text being unreadable to humans. So don’t try to trick the spiders because your ranking will pay for it.



7.   Check out the Competition – While the competitors’ strategy might not be right for you, it will give you information on opportunities you can target that have gone unnoticed by the competition, such as long tail keywords that have search volume that have been ignoring. The easiest way to check out what keywords they’re optimizing for is to look at their page of content. The keywords will appear the most time in the text.



8.   Check Analytics – If your website is already up and running, check Google Analytics to see which search terms are already generating traffic to your site.  It will also show how the search engines perceive your business and site.



Once you’ve gone through these steps, you’re well on your way to the top of the search results.


But don’t stop there, keep optimizing!