Continuing with our series of retro posts.  Here is one from our Marketing Jive site from 2007.  The topic?  Organic Keyword Research.  Over a decade later and a lot of these tips still hold true.  While keyword optimization is not what it used to be, there is still value in optimizing your content for semantically relevant topics and terms.  Even though a web page can appear in Google’s results without actually having a given keyword be found on that page, it still makes sense to focus on keyword themes and topics to improve your visibility and “findability” in Search.

Organic Keyword Research: Finding the Right Keywords for your SEO Campaign

A couple of years ago at Enquiro I wrote a piece on Finding The Right Organic SEO Keywords. Having successfully completed hundreds of keyword analyses, we felt that it was time to revisit the organic keyword analysis process. In our original piece we discussed how not all organic keywords are created equal. The keywords that you choose for your site should be directly related to the content on your site and to your target customer – failing to ‘connect’ these two will cost you leads.

As with sponsored search engine marketing, choosing the right keywords for organic site optimization is essential for strong ROI. Beyond the marketing basics of knowing your site products, site objectives, target market and competitive online environment, choosing the right keywords involves other factors; including:

  • Relevance of keyword to site and target customer

  • Size of site (your site should have far more pages than target keywords)

  • Quality and quantity of on-site content

  • Viability of visibility for each keyword (is it possible to get strong visibility considering the sites that are already ranking well for that keyword?)

  • Volume of searches for each keyword. This is the tough one as there are really no accurate numbers that are available to the industry. The search engines do not provide this information and really the tools that are available just do not provide accurate data.

So then how does one complete an effective Organic Keyword Analysis? Of course there are a number of tools that you can use, simply perform a search in Google for “keyword analysis tools” and you will be presented with a swarm of potential tools.

Steps for Completing an Organic Keyword Analysis

  1. Evaluate Your Existing Keywords – Review your Web site’s log data and web analytics. Looking at your top keyword referrals will provide insight the keywords that people used when they clicked a link to your site at a search engine. Compile the terms that are bringing people to your site.
  2. Find Keywords from Within – Brainstorming with colleagues to see what keywords they come up with. Give various individuals (in different rolls within your organization) a copy of your current keyword list and see if they can think of anything to add to it.
  3. Speak the Language of your Users – just because you are aware of industry terms and related phrases does not mean that your consumer will be using the same terms to find your website. Establish a feedback mechanism to evaluate the phrases that are being used by people to find your site.
  4. Examine Your Competitor’s Sites – this is easy enough, start with their keywords tags and look at their sitemap. What phrases are consistent throughout?
  5. Organize / Categorize your Keywords – if you have a number of product lines or solutions, you will want to organize your keywords in a logical fashion.
  6. Cull Your Keywords – You may need hundreds (or thousands) of keywords for your paid campaign, but for your organic keyword analysis try to focus on a select group of key phrases. Once your site is optimized for these keywords, you can focus on additional phrases. Ideally your site should be an authority for a handful of phrases not thousands.
  7. Examine the Competitive Landscape – Examine how difficult it may be to rank for your selected phrases. Remember to rank well you need adequate content and a lot of relevant/quality links. If you do not have these two elements and the key phrase in question is extremely competitive chances are you are probably not going to rank well for that phrase.
  8. Consider the Search Volume Factor – Based on log files and web analytics data combined with estimated search volumes obtained from external tools, you should be able to determine which phrases will drive the most traffic to your site. The trick is to select phrases that drive qualified traffic to your site.
  9. Finalize Your Keywords – based on the research that you have done, finalize your organic keyword list.
  10. Monitor your Organic Visibility – track the visibility of your organic keywords in the main search engines such as Google and Yahoo.
  11. Revisit Your Organic Keyword List – depending on the size of your organic keyword basket(s) you will want to revisit and if need be re-evaluate your organic keywords on a regular basis. Start with every six months and examine which phrases are the most effective.

Even in 2007, choosing the right organic keywords for site optimization is critical for successful ROI. Failure to do so can cost you extra expenses in PPC advertising costs and potential loss of onsite conversions and revenue. Your organic keyword analysis is one of the most essential components of your online marketing strategy. Following the steps above can mean the difference between online success and costly failure.

Retro Post: Organic Keyword Research: Finding the Right Keywords for Your SEO Campaign
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