Keyword Research Methodology

Any good SEO company or consultant is going to tell you that keyword research may be one of the most important things you do for your SEO. The keywords you target will directly affect what searches you rank for and what kind of traffic will be directed to your site. Failing to include the right keywords means missing out on potential traffic.

Here is the process that I use for conducting keyword research for my clients. I hope you find it useful for your own.

Step One: Read Your Content
Keyword research is done on a page-by-page basis. Search engines rank individual pages, not sites as a whole. Each page will have its own set of keywords that directly relate to the content of that page. Before you start your keyword research, read each page carefully and take notes about what that content is about.

Step Two: Check Your Analytics

Before you start changing keywords, you need some idea of what ones currently work and don’t work for each page. You should have signed up for Google Webmaster Tools (if you haven’t you really need to), which can help you determine what keywords are leading people to your site and which pages they are coming in through. This is important because you don’t want to accidentally remove keywords that were helping drive traffic to your site.

Step Three: Use a Keyword Research Tool to Create a Keyword List
Once you’ve determined what your content is about and what keywords are currently working for that page, you need to come up with several related variations of that keyword. Different people will search with different terms, and you want to make sure your site shows up for those searches as well.

3A: I’m a fan of the Google Keyword Research Tool .This (free) tool uses Google data to determine related searches. It also shows you the search volume for those variations. Keywords with a high search volume are more competitive.
3B: For this example, plug “wholesale restaurant supply store” into the Keyword Research tool. If you aren’t logged in to an AdWords account, Google will only display 100 variations. (If you are logged in, you’ll see that there are 800 variations!). Make sure you’ve selected the United States and English as your parameters.
3C: Above the keywords you have the option to download the list. You want to export them to Excel, so choose the CSV for Excel option.
3D: The list will have 4 columns (keyword, competition, global monthly searches and local monthly searches). You only need the keyword column and local (meaning United States) monthly searches.

Step Four: Scrub Your List
Scrubbing is the most important step of keyword research. Obviously there is no way you can target 800 different keywords, so you need to trim your list way down. Going keyword by keyword, you need to determine if that keyword is relevant to the content on the page! Here is a sample of a scrubbed and non-scrubbed list for “wholesale restaurant supply store.”

Non-scrubbed

wholesale restaurant supply store
restaurant supply
restaurant wholesale supply
wholesale restaurant equipment
restaurant supply store
restaurants supplies
wholesale restaurant supplies
restaurant supply stores
restaurant supply los angeles
restaurant supplies
restaurant supply dallas
wholesale restaurant supply
restaurant supply san diego
used restaurant supplies
restaurant supplies and equipment
restaurant supply portland oregon
restaurant equipment
used restaurant equipment
restaurant equipment supply
used restaurant equipment for sale
restaurant supplies store
restaurant supplies dishes
japanese restaurant supply
restaurant equipment leasing
restaurant equipment supplies
hotel & restaurant supply
restaurant supplies wholesale
restaurant food supply
restaurant supply company

Scrubbed
wholesale restaurant supply store
restaurant supply
restaurant wholesale supply
wholesale restaurant equipment
restaurant supply store
wholesale restaurant supplies
restaurant supply stores
wholesale restaurant supply
restaurant supplies and equipment
restaurant equipment supply
restaurant supplies store
restaurant supplies wholesale

Now the scrubbed list is still a little too long, so you need to trim it down even more. A good rule of thumb is to go after 2-5 keywords per page.

Do this process two or three times per page, changing up the keyword each time. For instance, the second list I create would use “restaurant equipment supply store” and the third list would use “restaurant supplies distributor” as the starting keyword. After scrubbing those lists down, you can create a final master list that has the best and most relevant keywords from all three variations. Now you need to scrub that master list down to your best 2-5 keywords.

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