Keyword research is fundamental to any search marketing campaign. If nobody’s looking for you, you should not put your time and money into a search campaign.
There are already a lot of articles, out there, that can show you how to do in-depth keyword research. Here’s another from Bruce Clay, for example. That’s not what this article will teach you.
An Introduction to Keyword Research
I’d like to show you a 10,000 foot view of keyword research. Perhaps you could call this an “introduction to keyword research.”
My simple keyword research method involves only a couple steps:
- Is there a category in the Yellow Pages for your kind of services? Assuming you can find one of these ancient tomes, this tells you whether people are searching for you. If this is true, you might say that people are looking for you online, too. Sometimes companies provide services that might not appear in a consumer-oriented directory. If this is your company, skip to the next step.
- Think about some of the phrases a potential customer might use to find you and make a list. Take those phrases to Google. If the search results are competitors or related to your services, this might be good for you too.
- Take the most promising phrases to Google Trends. This will show you a lot of information about your search phrases:
- From where are people searching for this phrase?
- How common are these searches?
- Are there any seasonal fluctuation in these searches?
If you’re going to do keyword research like this you must be honest with yourself. I know you think it would be cool to “rank number one” on Google but what good is that if nobody’s looking for you?
For this to work, you’ll also need to avoid using technical jargon. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Sometimes the best customers use the wrong phrase when looking for you.
Limitations of Quick Keyword Research
While this might be a quick way to do keyword research, it has a couple limitations.
How many people are searching for you?
Sure, people might be looking for you, but it might not be enough to justify a search campaign. Google Trends can help you see into this to a limited degree. Good keyword research is able to estimate how many people might be using a particular phrase.
Which phrase do people use more often?
There might be a couple different ways to say the same thing. There might be a couple different ways to search for the same solution. Which one do customers use more often? That would be the phrase you should use in your search campaign. You could use Google Trends to compare phrases against each other. Good keyword research can offer better insight.
Will this be easy or hard?
There might be people looking for your solution but there might be a lot of competition for those people. For instance, there are a lot of businesses looking for IT Services. At the same time, there are a lot of companies that provide IT Services.
Search marketing can also be difficult in broader categories. For example, lots of people turn to the search engines to find a “computer.” Unfortunately, that category is broad. Even if someone could find your business from that search, you might not have what they need.
Good keyword research should be able to identify the competition in your space.
So What Good is Quick Keyword Research?
With all these limitations, why bother with this quick method? It can give you a basic idea of what you could be doing. That’s all. For serious inquiries, in depth keyword research is much more helpful.
For better keyword research, you’ll need to:
- Follow one of the guides I mentioned earlier in the article.
- Start a small PPC campaign to test the waters. I find the PPC experts do excellent keyword research. Bear in mind that things work a little different when it comes to SEO.
What’s your quick keyword research method? What’s your favorite in depth method? Share it with us in the comments, below.