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Knee deep in keyword research

During our recent office move I found an old checklist that we used to provide clients in the late 90's that covered submitting web sites to search engines. At the top of the sheet in big, bold text was the first instruction: "Put yourself in the position of the user". Many years later and that statement remains the important fundamental step when thinking about keyword research.

Keywords are the building blocks of search engine marketing - whether it's natural, organic optimisation or pay-per-click campaigns using AdWords and alike. Keywords are thoughts - they are transferred from the brains of users and translated into words and phrases that a search engine has to decipher before deciding which web sites to present as relevant, in an organised and ranked list. Keywords are also often questions - from users looking for solutions, and you hope that it's your web site that can provide answers through your products and services.

Users tend to create keywords in one of a few general ways:

 - they can be explicit or exact: a description of what the user is looking for. If they are looking for more RAM for a computer, they may search for 'computer memory'.

 - they can describe the problem they're having or symptom being experienced: 'cannot run photoshop', or 'computer running slowly'. Both these might be solved with more computer memory, but the searcher doesn't know that yet, they're merely describing the issues they face.

 - they can also search for precise brand or product names: 'DDR3 1333MHz PC3-10600'. Keywords like this might be the easiest to monitise towards, but they're also likely to be the most competitive.

Immediately you can see that picking keywords from your brochure or your marketing department might not be the best way to start your research. Users don't think like you or your organisation does, they may not use jargon familiar to you. It's crucial to look beyond the keywords themselves - and examine the scenarios and situations that may be causing someone to need your product or service.

Simon Newing

Created on Wednesday July 20 2011 11:35 AM

Tags: seo

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