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Keyword Research and Strategy Lay the Foundation For Your Success

First and foremost, your keyword marketing strategy needs to focus on relevancy. When you use a search engine to find products, services, or information, you may start out with a general search. As you learn more, and come closer to making a purchase decision, the words you type into the search engine will get more specific to hone in on exactly what you are looking for. Your audience is just like you. Their search behaviors are similar to yours. The keywords they use to search for your site, however, are likely to differ substantially from what you might expect. They don't know your business like you do.

Once you've done some basic brainstorming and keyword research, you'll know what words people are using to search but you can only guess which ones represent a search for your site. It's not an exact science so you should expect some trial end error.

Pick the battles you can win

How do you choose what keywords to target? Pick the most specific, relevant keywords that your research (using the Overture keyword tool or Word Tracker) shows people actually use to search. The keywords you choose might answer some or all of the following questions.

  • Why does the site exist?
  • What does the site offer?
  • Why would someone want to find the site?
  • What would someone want to do on the site?
  • Why would they want to do it?
  • What problems do products, information, or services available on the site solve?
  • What does the site, or that which it offers compliment?
  • Who would use the site?
  • Is the site, its contents or offerings appropriate for particular occasions such as birthdays, Christmas summer or ski season?
  • Will the site or elements of it be geared towards specific geographic locations?

Let's say you are based in the United States and you offer ski package deals to the Western United States and Canada.

When the Overture tool shows you that over 500,000 searches for the word "ski" are performed during peak winter months (and that doesn't even include searches on Google!), it might be tempting to select "ski" or even "skiing" as your top two keywords. Both are way to general and way to competitive for all but the largest sites. Terms like ski trips (6,000 searches/month), ski packages (12,000 searches/month) and ski vacations (25,000 searches/month) are significantly more targeted but still very general and rather competitive. You need to get more specific, especially if you are starting out with a new website that will initially have no incoming links from other sites.

Get really specific

Target keywords that relate to specific states and resorts, think of all the possible synonyms for the term ski vacation (ski package and ski trip come to mind), explore the types of ski vacations that people may want (family ski vacations for example), and any other geographical or topical adjective that may describe a type of ski vacation you offer your customers. Remember, the Overture Keyword Tool and Word Tracker will be a tremendous help here.

Before you finalize your initial keyword selection, the next step is to go to Google and see how competitive each of your planned keywords is. The competitiveness of a keyword can be estimated using a few measures. The total number of results returned, the number of incoming links to the top sites, and the Google PageRank™ of the top-30 pages in the search results for the keywords chosen will provide a rough idea of the competition you are up against.

Once you've done your keyword research and refined it into a strategy, you are ready to move onto the keyword wireframing section where you begin lay out the structure of your site and define the relationships between the keywords you've chosen.

No matter where you are in the development of your website or how small your budget, you can compete with any site in your market. It is a slow on-going process but with the right keywords, strategy, site layout and content you can and will succeed if you keep working, learning, and analyzing and optimizing your results.

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