Keyword Research

Where to Go to Find the Right Keywords

One of the first steps involved in optimizing your website for the search engines is to figure out what your keyword phrases should be for each page of your website. You will wind up with different key word phrases for each page. There's definitely some homework involved in doing this--it can be a whole project.

Pick one page of your site, and write down all the key words you think someone would use to find the product or service you are offering on that page. Using this as the basis, you will pare that long list down to a short list of about 2 or 3 keyword phrases. Each phrase should be no more than three or four words. It is okay if the same words are in more than one keyword phrase.

The other way to approach this is actually better: when designing your site, start with a list of keywords that you've researched, and make pages to focus on each keyword phrase.

You should end up with a short list: no more than 2 keyword phrases, each less than four words long, for each page of your website. The longer phrases (called "the long tail") are more effective, while single words are usually ineffective. It's harder to get good Google rankings for shorter keyword phrases; it's easier for longer keyword phrases to do well at Google.

Google has the best free keyword tool to help you select keywords, and it shows you an estimate of how many people searched in the last month for each of the keywords that it suggests. Here's the link: Google Keyword Tool. Honestly, this is all most people will need to find the right keywords for their pages.

There's a new tool available from WordStream: Free Keyword Tool. It doesn't give you numbers but does give you a sense of which keywords are searched more.

Another good free tool for discovering keywords you can use is located here:Keyword Discovery

Note: The following form has often been down lately, but try anyway - the data it provides is from Yahoo Search Marketing info and definitely worthwhile to get if it is working:

Type in the words that you think people would use while searching at a search engine for your product or service. Not your product brand name, unless it is a well known brand, but its generic term.

There is a tool called GoodKeywords, which is a free download from It takes about two minutes to download and install it. Try various keyword phrases in it and you'll see what people are actually searching for on the web. You want the most specific key word phrases you can find, which are getting actually being used by people searching the web, which ALSO are relevant to your specific service or product. That narrows it down dramatically in some cases.

This one is pretty good too: Wordtracker's Free Keyword Research tool.

There is a Keyword Research Guide put out by WordTracker, which helps lay out the basics. Some of their advice is useful even if you don't have their program. WordTracker helps you choose keywords that searchers are actually using, and runs at around $250.00 per year in cost, depending on what kind of subscription you choose. You can subscribe by the day for under $10.00.

Word Tracker also has a free keyword research tool here.

This is also an excellent tool for keyword research from Webmaster Toolkit.

My personal favorite for sparking ideas with regard to keywords is called "Quintura Search". It creates a "cloud" of keywords related to any keyword or phrase you put into the search engine. Putting "Alfa Romeo Alfetta" in the Quintura search engine, it gave me several new phrases I hadn't thought of, such as "Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT", and "Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV", and "Alfa Romeo Alfetta Saloon". It won't give you counts of how many people are searching for these things, but it does give you phrases which you can check elsewhere for counts.

Start entering in the key words you think people would use to try to find the service or product you are offering. It will suggest alternatives. You want to pick the most relevant key word phrases you can, but there are limits. In our "Alfa Romeo Alfetta" example, you'd look up "Alfa Romeo" and find "automobiles", "Italian automobiles", "sports sedans", "road racing" and so on.

Still using our example, you wouldn't want the keyword "automobiles" because there are many million other sites out there selling automobiles and things related to them; your site will be effectively lost in the search engines if you try to optimize your site for a very general keyword like that. We wouldn't want everyone looking for an automobile to come to our site anyway! We only want those who are looking for information or accessories for the Alfa Romeo Alfetta. So we narrow it down by making the phrase longer using modifiers, like "Alfa Romeo Alfetta accessories"

The rule of thumb is to make the key word phrases as particular as possible while still being generic enough.

Your purpose here is to try to make it easy for those looking for you to find you by selecting keyword phrases they will most likely think of and most probably use when searching for whatever you offer.

In our example site, selling accessories for the Alfa Romeo Alfetta, we would look up words like "aftermarket", "auto accessories", "Alfa Romeo" and "Alfetta". We would get suggestions like, "car parts", "Italian automobiles", "auto dealerships", "Alfetta owners" and so on. From those suggestions, we pick and use as our key word phrases the specific phrases that are being searched for the most by people at the search engines. Of course, these also must relate specifically to our products or services--whatever we are selling.

For help in figuring out the best keywords for your website, you can contact us. We have helped get excellent placement in the search engines for many sites using these techniques for selecting keywords and the other techniques on our Do it yourself SEO page. We offer a free 15-minute consultation, and no one will twist your arm to buy something. 541-655-0285.

If you want someone else to do the work for you, there are firms that will create you a keyword report and do all your keyword research for you. Any good firm will also give you recommendations for how to optimize your pages based on these keywords. We do keyword research for many of our clients. Call us or contact us for an estimate to give you the keyword research you need.

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Practical advice on how to pick the right keyword phrases for your site.

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