Keyword Research

Keyword and phrase research
that identifies what your audience is looking for.


In order to successfully market through search, you need to conduct keyword and phrase research that closely links the searches and interests of your target audience with your products and services.

It all begins when your target audience types their interest or question into the search box in Google, Bing, Yahoo! or any other search engine. If you understand what their interests are, and how they are looking to solve their needs, you can start to put together the words and phrases they are going to use, and design your website content to match.


Step 1: Discuss Your Business

We start every SEO project by listening to you. We want to understand your business, and your target audience. This will include you providing us with a list of your competitors, and information about your company's background and mission.

Step 2: Construct / Review Customer Personas

Customer personas are important - both for broader marketing goals as well as for keyword analysis. In building a keyword plan, we don't need to create a complex set of personas. But we do want to understand the different audiences, and how they are going to search.

Step 3: Keyword and Phrase Research

Lastly, we conduct the keyword and phrase research. As part of this - we don't simply turn over a list of words and say, "Use these on your website." We create a roadmap and do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. We tell you which words and phrases are strongest, how your products / services connect, and construct some of the messaging you need to reach your target audience.

Keyword research for SEO

How to research keywords and phrases for your website, and content marketing plan.

Important Keyword Stats

  • Top 100 terms: 5.7% of the all search traffic
  • Top 500 terms: 8.9% of the all search traffic
  • Top 1,000 terms: 10.6% of the all search traffic
  • Top 10,000 terms: 18.5% of the all search traffic

* Data from MOZ

Getting Started: How To Do Keyword / Phrase Research For SEO

The key to being successful with keyword research is understanding how your customers think.

We wrote at the top that it all begins when a person types their search into a search engine. And it's true. There would be no SEO without those keywords and phrases.

The process of discovering what keywords and phrases your target audience is looking for may seem challenging, but hopefully it will become more clear as you read this guide.

In short, the best way we know of to get started with keyword and phrase research is to start thinking like your customer or target audience.

Remember, it is not about what you want to sell them or the topic you want to draw their attention to. The questions you need to ask are:

  • What are they looking for?
  • What do they want?
  • What are all the ways they might ask for information?
  • What words are they are going to use to find what they are looking for?

If you start by answering those questions, you will not only draw people to your website, but the better you can answer those questions (and the more specific you can be) will help you draw a more qualified visitor to your website.

What Are The Best Keywords For Your Website?

When you see that there are so many words you can choose from to optimize your website, you are probably wondering: "What are the right keywords for my website? How do I choose?"

When you think about keywords for search engine optimization, it's important to know that there are two types: short tail and long tail.

What is a short tail keyword?

Short tail keywords live up to their name - they are short. They are 3 words or less.

Some examples of a short tail keyword are: "high school curriculum," "defense contractor," "Indian restaurant," "shoe store," and "law firm," and "dentist."

These words also are known in SEO circles as "head" terms. They are consider the first thing you often think about for a specific category. You decide to do something fun one weekend, you look for "train museum" or "amusement park." You're driving and notice that your gas is low, so you ask someone to look up "gas stations."

This brings us to "long tail keywords," which are more than 3 words, and add a level of specificity to your search that will help to narrow the results.

For example: "high school math curriculum," "top 10 defense contractor," or "Indian restaurant near me."

You also can think of long tail keywords as part of your customer's journey that has gotten more specific. And as a result, they are farther along in the buying process.

For example, a person looking for "mountain climbing" advances their interest and then searches for "mountain climbing tours." After some thought, they get closer to buying by searching for "mountain climbing tours in California." Lastly, they finalize their search by typing "beginner mountain climber tours in california." Now - they are ready to buy.

The other thing to remember about long tail keywords is that they are - generally speaking - much easier to rank for.

Granted, the audience may be smaller in total number, but because the search phrase is now so specific, the higher the likelihood that few people / businesses are optimized around that keyword or phrase. In fact, long tail search traffic is the larger percentage of total search traffic by people on the Internet.

Keyword - Longtail - Percent of Search Traffic

Another benefit is that with long tail keywords, your audience from search is going to be even more qualified. In other words, the person searching for "beginner mountain climber tours in california" is going to be a more qualified buyer than someone who searched for "mountain climbing."

So... How Do We Decide Which Keywords Are More Valuable For Our Business?

Short tail and long tail keywords aside, you are probably still wondering, "Which words do I need to optimize around?"

Well, the honest answer is that it will depend on your business and your goals. There is value for many business to try and rank well for both. An education provider or school that sells curriculum or classes may want to rank well for "high school curriculum" and "high school math curriculum," as well as "high school algebra 1 practice test."

The value you assign to a keyword will be based on your business goals, the amount of traffic each keyword or phrase can generate, and how competitive of a word it is. For example, you may open the only "train store" or "hobby shop" within a 100 mile radius.

Hence, you will probably not need to focus on a lot of long tail keywords, unless it could benefit your online business. However, your pizza restaurant is going to face more local competition for keywords. You may want to focus on the fact that you are a "fire brick oven" pizzeria or "deep dish" pizzeria.

At the end of the day, this is where other aspects of SEO program management and marketing come into play.

From our end - this is why we focus on business goals first, and then gather customer and competitor data. These steps help us to identify the right keywords. And they can do the same for you.

Once the list of short tail and long tail keywords has been developed, the process of mapping those back to your business goals, content marketing strategy, and advertising can begin.

With so much these days hinging upon the success of your online marketing efforts and your website, expert SEO and analytics are critical to measuring what is working well and what needs to be changed or stopped.