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Basic Keyword Research Guide For Beginners

When you’re getting started with SEO for your website, you need to begin at the beginning. And it has to start with keyword research, which is possibly the most important part of SEO.

You cannot begin to optimize your website or content without knowing the phrases that you should be targeting. You can’t calculate the potential returns and costs of SEO unless you know your competition. This keyword research guide will help you get started.

Step 1 Define relevant topics

The first thing you should do is to come up with some topics that define your business or are relevant to it. If you are already blogging for your business, there may be certain subjects you’ve already blogged about. Include these and try to have around five to ten such topics. For example, if you sell SEO services, your topics could include SEO, social media marketing, blogging etc.

Step 2 Find keywords for each topic

Next, take each topic and think of relevant keywords. Think about the terms potential customers may input to find resources or services on the topic you’re looking at. Do this for all the topics on your list, and you should have a sizeable list of phrases or terms from which to draw your keywords from.

Step 3 Check for a good mix of short and long tail keywords

Short-tail keywords are short terms. Long-tail keywords are long phrases (three or more words). That’s all the difference between them, but you should have both types of keywords for each topic.

Step 4 Find related search terms and narrow down your list

If you can’t think of related terms that people might be searching for, you could put in a word or phrase into Google’s search bar and you’ll find a list of terms that people search for. These may give you ideas for other search terms to add to your list. You can use some of the tools listed below for help in narrowing down your list as well.

The Best Tools and Tips for Research

Average search volumes: Google’s keyword tool (now called the Keywords Planner) is an excellent resource that gives you search volume for your targeted keywords. That’s about everything the tool is good for, but it’s effective in showing you average monthly local (meaning country index, not state) and global search volumes. In order to get a realistic sense of the numbers, the matching criteria should be set to ‘exact’ rather than ‘phrase’ or ‘broad’. This tool is a good place to start with a broad idea of how many people are searching for your targeted keywords, and begin building your keyword list.

Checking for plurals: Next, you need to narrow down your population targets, with specifics. When doing your keyword research, don’t forget to find the numbers for plural forms of the terms as well. It is possible that either the singular or plural forms may have more numbers than the other.

Other keyword suggestions: To expand your keyword list, you can plug your top-level target terms or phrase into the tool. Also a tool by Google, ubersuggest will run the keywords with each letter of the alphabet and come up with suggestions (based on actual searches) for alternate keyword phrases to help you build your list and narrow down your target audiences even further. You can take the suggestions that fit your profile and go back to the Keywords Planner and find more data.

Yet more tools like SpyFu, SEMrush, Keyword Spy and others will give you an idea of how your competition is ranking for the terms you use, or what terms they are searching for.

Follow the steps above to get started with keyword research, and then get down to the more technical aspects of SEO, which is the application of these terms to optimize your website for higher conversions and sales. Good luck!

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