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SEO Basics (Keyword Research)
By: Dane Lyons

SEO (Search engine optimization): The process of building a website to pull the maximum amount of relevant traffic from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask Jeeves…
Keyword Research: The process of researching terms to be used in SEO for a given website.

The first step to successful SEO is always keyword research. Without it you are shooting from the hip. If, for example, you would like to create a website about cooking you could optimize your site for the generic “cooking” term but how well is that going to perform? Well according to Overture there are 8,233.8 searches /day for “cooking” sounds good right? Not exactly…in order to rank high for this term you would have to compete with high end websites such as cooking.com and foodtv.com. Now that might be your ultimate goal but if you are just starting there is little to no chance you will be ranked high enough to receive any traffic for the term.
If you were to do a little keyword research you might find more specific terms with much less competition like italian cooking 344.3 /day or crock pot cooking 253.5 /day. Now obviously the number of daily searches is much less with these terms but your chances or ranking will be much greater. Its always a good idea to start off with several low competition terms and as your site builds start optimizing for the larger terms.

Step 1: Create a list of related terms
Open an excel spreadsheet and start making a list of all major industry terms and buzz words related to your site in one column. The list doesn’t need to be extremely detailed quite yet so don’t add part numbers, brand names or several variations of each term. For example if we want to remain on the cooking theme our list might look something like this.
Cooking, chef, cutlery, foods, meat, dairy, wine, seasoning, poultry, fish, dining…(simple generic terms)

Step 2: Expand the list
Now its time to start adding all those 2, 3 and 4 term combinations along with other very specific terms related to your site. For this we will employ a few web applications to speed up the process. http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/suggestion and http://nichebot.com are two of the best free tools at your disposal.
Simply type in your first generic term and the tool will list several related terms. Add each new relevant term to your spreadsheet. Do this with each generic term and you should end up with a list of at very least 50 possible terms to optimize for.

Step 3: Find your primary and secondary keywords
Now go to nichebot and type in each of your terms. Look for the “COUNT” and “RATIO”. (listed to the right of each term) Plug these into your database in the second and third column next to the corresponding terms. Once you have completed this step go through your list and seek out the terms with the highest count and the lowest ratio. Take the top 5-10 terms and place them into a separate list. These will be your primary keywords. You will use these in the optimization of the top pages of your site.
Then take the remaining list and alphabetically order it from lowest to highest ratio. (there should be a tool in your spreadsheet to do this automatically for you) These will be your secondary keywords.

That’s it! You now know the basics of keyword research. I’m sure you are asking “what now?”. Well there is quite a bit more to learn. You are going to need to know on-site and off-site optimization and various methods and tools available to you for these tasks. You will need to learn the difference between “white hat” and “black hat” SEO which basically outlines what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in terms of SEO. So stay tuned for my next article. I will take you through the process step by step. By the end there will be no need to hire greedy SEO firms for something you can do for a fraction of the cost.

About the Author

Dane Lyons is the creator and webmaster of Lucid
Aura Web Design
, 7Seeker The Article Archives
and Lyons Craft

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