Keyword Research and Optimisation

Keyword research is the foundation of any SEO activity, be it site optimisation or even link building, without the right keywords, your optimisation efforts will be fruitless without knowing the right keywords to target.

So how do you go about conducting proper keyword research?  Follow the following 8 keyword research and optimisation steps.

Understanding the current keyword structure of your site 

Before you can begin your keyword research and optimisation efforts, you need to have a strong understanding of your site’s current structure (hierarchy).  The best way to do this is to create a hierarchy of your site using boxes.  

Obviously, the top box would be your site’s home page.  Underneath that would be your sit’s category level pages and underneath that would be your internal pages.

If you’ve done your site structure correctly you should start to see your keyword categories unfold.  If at this stage you feel confused then maybe you need to take another look at the existing structure of your site and think about reorganising into logical categories so that it makes sense.  

Brainstorm keyword idea – the seed list

At this stage, you’re ready to start brainstorming keyword ideas. There are a few things you can do here to help you gather a wide array of good keyword ideas.  But before you start this stage, its a good idea to understand what your KPIs are (key performance indicators)  Basically what you’re looking to achieve out of your site’s visitors.  The following are ideas to kickstart your keyword brainstorming sessions.

  • Analyse the competitors

  • Send out surveys

  • Ask friends and family 

Keyword Discovery: Expanding the Seed List

Now that you have your seek keyword list, you’re ready to start expanding it.  This is where an investment in good keyword research tools will very much come in handy. 

The idea behind the keyword discovery stage of keyword research is to find not necessaruily the keywords with the highest traffic but more importantly the keyword phrases with the highest propensity (possibility) to convert into business.  

There are a number of free keyword research tools available out there but some of the keyword research tools worth an investment include:

My personal preference is for Wordtracker as its cheaper and has recently added the “keyword researcher” which has combined many of the tedeous keyword research jobs into one and allows you to research keywords in the UK. 

Quantify the keyword choices (traffic and competition)

The above tools give you an idea of estimated searches per day/month/year depending on which tool you use as well as the competition levels for the various keywords.  By measuring traffic levels against competiton levels for the desired keywords you’ll be in a better position to judge which keywords are worth going after and which keywords are not. 

Map keywords to your website pages

Now that you’ve gathered your ideal keyword list, you’re ready to start mapping it against your existing (or restructured) site.   I find that using an excel sheet is perfect for this exercise.

Optimise pages for selected mapped keywords

Now that the mapping stage is done, you’re ready to start optimising your site for the desired keywords.  There are many blog entries on this site about optimising your site for desired keywords, I would start by looking at the following categories:

Analyse and Tweak

Finally, once you’ve optimised your site you will need to measure the results of your keyword research and optimisation efforts.  You do that by studying your site side analytics tools such as Google analytics. 

Hopefully you’ll begin to see improvements and if you’ve followed the abov steps that will be the case, but if you feels the improvements are not as desired or that the traffic you’re getting is not converting as it should then this would be the time to revisit your keyword selection to try and discover keywords that maybe have less traffic but a higher propensity to convert.

Good luck with your keyword research and optimisation efforts! 

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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