If you’re creating a new website for your business, or even if you already have a website, you’ll need to give some thought to keyword research. For your site to perform well in Google searches, it's important to find out what people are searching for on Google, and use these keywords in your content, and SEO, which in turn will help drive traffic to your website and engage with your target audience. 
Of course, you can pay an SEO company oodles of cash to come up with a list of keywords and phrases for you. But if you’re on a budget, you’ll be glad to know there are lots of free ways you can research and identify keywords yourself. Having said that, as with anything SEO-related, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. In this article, we give you a few pointers that will set you going in the right direction. 
 
1. Use a keyword research tool 
There are plenty of these around, many of which are free or offer a free trial. The original – and some say best – is Google Keyword Planner, although you’ll need to set up a Google AdWords account to access it these days. Other services include Wordstream, SERPS and Keyword Tool. 
 
Most of these are powered by Google and work in a similar way. You simply type in the word or phrase that best describes your business, such as ‘web design,’ and the tool will suggest lots of alternative words and phrases for you to choose from. The start of the results might look like this: 
 
2. Research multi-word phrases 
Known as ‘long-tail’ phrases, these are search terms that narrow down what someone’s searching for on Google. For example, ‘web design Nottingham’ or ‘web design for charities.’ These can be useful if your primary keyword is heavily used and you need to find a differentiator. 
 
Some keyword research tools, like Keyword Tool, produce long-tail searches using Google Autocomplete (also called Google Suggest). So you could use one of these, or just do it directly on Google. Simply type your product or service into the search box and a list of phrases will appear, like the below: 
To get accurate results, you’ll need to click on ‘Hide private results’ in Search Settings or go incognito, so your previous searches won’t affect the results. To go incognito, press Ctrl + Shift + N and a new incognito window will open. 
 
An example of this is a cient of ours, http://www.rangecomms.co.uk/, we've just done this together, and we found that "dash cam" was too competitive (Halfords, Amazon, eBay, Argos etc.) so we added "Nottingham" to the search - in the list, the words "fitting" and "installation" were suggested, which makes sense - people that want a local dash cam supplier are likely to be looking for a company that can install a dash cam, rather than a buy-in-store-and-DIY-install-it-myself, supplier. 
 
3. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes 
Your next task is to imagine you’re a customer who’s interested in buying your product or service. How will they find your website? What information are they looking for? And what questions will they have that you’ll need to answer? 
 
This can be quite tricky, but luckily there are online tools around that can help. One of these is Answerthepublic.com, which is very easy to use. Simply type your product or service into the search box and you’ll be presented with a ‘question wheel’ displaying all the things people want to know about it. Here’s an example: 
Of course, some or even most of these questions won’t be relevant to your business. But you can download the contents of the wheel into an Excel .csv file and simply delete those that don’t apply. You’re then left with a list of questions packed with useful key words and phrases, which you can weave into your content. 
 
You can also answer some of the specific questions on an FAQ page in your main website, or in blog posts and articles. This can work really well for boosting visits to your site. 
 
4. Select your keywords and phrases 
By now, you should have an idea of what’s important to people when they’re searching for your product or service. So now it’s time to whittle down your list of potential keywords and phrases to the ones that really matter. 
 
Don’t overdo it – choose just four or five terms to focus on. Try to choose words and phrases that describe your USP as well as your business. For example, if you offer a hassle-free web design service that saves people lots of time, you might choose ‘quick website design’. Or if you specialise in a certain field, ‘web design for accountants’, for example. 
 
5. Use your keywords with care 
We hate to end this article on a note of caution. But we’d also hate you to spend time carefully researching the perfect keywords and then messing up when it comes to using them. In short: less is more. Don’t over-use your keywords and don’t force them into sentences where they just won’t fit. 
 
After all, real people will be reading your website as well as search engine bots, and phrases like ‘we do web design Nottingham, Derby, Leicester’ won’t do you any favours. Awkward search terms like this can always be used in your meta-data and page titles instead of the front end, and it's important to not just add the content to your pages, but to make sure each page is properly SEO'd. 
 
The last word… 
It’s important to remember that getting people onto your website is just the start – your job now is to engage them with relevant, interesting and authoritative content. Like to know more? You’ll find articles about how to create great content in our blog. 
 
Or if you’d like to discuss how it’seeze can help your business stand out online, get in touch today. 
Tagged as: Content, SEO
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