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A Concise Guide to Keyword Research for Organic Search Traffic

Updated on September 22, 2014

The first step in getting any amount of organic search engine traffic is keyword research. Once you've done the research, you'll end up with a relatively high traffic keyword (or more likely keyword phrase) you can easily rank for in your industry.

Step 1: Brainstorming

Brainstorming
Brainstorming | Source

Before we get into the actual research, you'll need to do some brainstorming. Write down some keywords that searchers might type into Google to find out about your product or service. Once you have a list of about five or six phrases that reflect your core products or services, you're ready to begin.

Step 2: Gather the Right Tools

The only tool you need to get started with keyword research is Google's free keyword tool. It's all most people will ever need. But if you're interested in that extra edge, there are some great keyword research tools you can pay for access to. Jon Morrow of Copyblogger put together some great keyword research reviews for a few of the best tools out there. I recommend starting there if you really think you need something better than what's available for free. For the rest of this tutorial, I'm going to assume you're using Google's free tool.

Step 3: Search for and Write Down your High-Traffic Keywords

Now comes the fun part. Start plugging in your brainstorming keywords and look for keywords with a high number of global monthly searches. The range you're probably looking for here is between 1,500 and 10,000. In rare cases, you might find keywords that reflect your core products or services in the 20,000 range, but don't count on it. These will be fairly difficult to rank for as they've probably got a lot of competition gunning for that number one spot. Ignore anything above 30,000 global searches a month.

These keywords either won't reflect your core products and services or they'll be so over-saturated with competition that any attempt to rank for them would be somewhat foolish. Another thing to keep in mind here is that the keywords you're looking for need to be relating to your core products and services and need to also reflect your core customer base. In other words, for every keyword you write down, ask yourself two questions:

  • Does this keyword reflect my core products and services?
  • Is the searcher a target customer?

Most people want to rank for the highest traffic keyword in their niche. Depending on the niche, this may or may not be a good strategy. If the highest traffic keyword in your niche has around 100,000 exact searches a month, you're probably not going to rank for it no matter what you do. It just won't happen. A good amount of traffic that's reasonable to rank for is anything from 2,000 to 10,000 exact searches a month.

Every once in a while, you might be able to rank for a keyword that has over 10,000 searches a month, but it's more likely to be under 10,000. Don't just look for high traffic keywords. Look for keywords that reflect your core business offerings and your target audience. If you sell computer fans and you find out that "motherboards," has more traffic, don't try and rank for motherboards unless you're trying to switch industries.

Also, whatever keyword you decide to go with, you're going to need to do some research to find out what those searchers are looking for when they type in the keyword. For instance, there's a big difference in people searching "computer" and those searching "computers." The former is more likely looking for a definition of the term. The latter is probably closer to buying computers.

Generally the more words a keyword phrase has in it, the closer that person is to buying a product. Another example would be the keyword "Dogs" compared to "Dogs that don't shed." When someone searches for "Dogs," they might be looking for anything related to dogs. But if someone searches "Dogs that don't shed," it's a lot more likely that that person is actively looking to adopt a dog that doesn't shed.

If you don't already know what those searchers want, the best way to find out is by testing pay-per-click campaigns with it. Testing variations of ads will give you a lot of insight into what resonates and what doesn't resonate with the searchers.

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    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I was not aware of the "Match Type" options in Google AdWord. I'm still not sure which option works best for me in figuring out article keywords, but now I can at least play around with it. Thanks.

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