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You can follow all the SEO fundamentals, optimize your site to its fullest potential, but if you are using the wrong keywords, then you’re just wasting your time.

Keyword research has been a constant in SEO, and is one of the foundational elements when you are developing content for your site. Keyword research is like mining gold – when you discover real gold, then you’re rich, but of course there’s a lot of digging in the process to get there. Keyword research is the same; it takes time to find the right keywords to use in your content. But when you do find them, prepare to put them to work.

Keyword Research Best Practices

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when you are doing your keyword research. This is not a complete list, but two of the most important ones to consider when deciding the type of traffic you want for your site. They are:

  1. Relevancy (Intent)
  2. Popularity (Trend)

Keyword Relevancy (Intent)

If you are a car dealer in Ottawa, then you will want to advertise your cars to the Ottawa market. Likewise, if you are an e-commerce shop, then you might be trying to tap into a specialized group of people with a common interest. Depending on the type of business you are in, it is important to keep in mind that the keyword research process is similar in both cases, but the conclusions are dramatically different. The Google Keyword Tool is an excellent tool for segmenting local search volumes by country.

The dealer shop in Ottawa will be interested in those users searching locally. Such terms may be “car dealers Ottawa” or “used cars in Ottawa”, where it is a keyword phrase + location. These search queries are the most relevant to the business, and the intent of those searches is acceptable because we want customers who are looking for a car to find our shop before they find their competitors.

Similarly, an e-commerce shop optimizing for remote control cars may look into the brand of car + “remote control cars” as a long tail keyword option. Thus, the relevance and intent of a search is critical if you want to drive quality organic traffic to your site.

Keyword Popularity (Trends)

Often keyword research tools will give you an average monthly search volume for a term (make sure you are using exact match). As a result, items that have higher demand in the winter (i.e. Christmas gifts), are not given a weighted score to compensate for the lower demand in the other three season.

Seasonality trends are important if you are a retail store that sells an assortment of products throughout the year. We use Google Insights for Search to determine if there is indeed any pattern in search, dating as far back as 2004.

For example, if Jonny was a good kid this year, then he probably deserves a nice present from ma and pa. So his parents begin their search for that perfect Christmas gift online. You might begin your search with some of these keywords (Jonny and his family live in Ottawa);

  • “Christmas gifts”
  • “Christmas presents”
  • “xmas gifts”
  • “xmas presents”

Use your trusty Insights for Search tool to compare these terms and what do you find? “Christmas gifts” is the keyword phrase people use. So use this in your content and optimization efforts!

Although the other terms seem to be insignificant compared to the winner, it’s also important to note that it may be worth keeping those keywords in a separate list (secondary keyword list), evaluate the search volume, and write content around those keywords accordingly. At least you are covering your bases – and who knows… “christmas present” may be the better converting keyword!

You’ll just have to play around with your analytics tool and test to see if there is any correlation between the organic keywords and when visitors make a transaction. Google Analytics is good at slicing and dicing that data.

As we said at the very beginning, keyword research is like mining for gold. It’s not an easy job, but the reward is great if you do it correctly right from the start. Keyword research requires a lot of time and logic if you want to build that list of golden keywords. Keyword relevancy and popularity are only two aspects to consider in your journey of keyword discovery, but they are the most important, in my opinion, that you need to account for.

Happy mining!

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