SEO: Compiling your keywords for search success

Google-keywords-SEOKeywords are the foundation of on-page SEO

Before you begin any web content project, you need to build your keyword list. Building your list means hunting down those keyword terms and phrases that your potential website visitors would use to search for your products and services.

As I have mentioned repeatedly in other posts: your goal when you compile your list is to match your list to your audience’s searches. You can compile your keyword list in a few ways.

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Ways to build your keyword list

  1. Ask yourself: What terms would potential site visitors use to search for your products or services? Write down those terms.
  2. List multiple ways of saying the same thing.
    • Let’s use a thumb drive as an example. How many different ways can you say it? USB drive, flash drive, jump drive, USB key.  These are all the different ways that you can describe a thumb drive.
  3. Make sure you include all the variations on your keyword list.
  4. Poll your existing clients: Ask them “What terms would you type into Google to find my service or product?”
  5. Find out what terms “regular people” use to search. By regular people I mean those people outside your industry.  Clients can be so immersed in an industry that they know the “industry terminology” but regular folks wouldn’t search with those terms.
    • I have a client who performs marriage ceremonies. A common term in the industry is “officiant” and yet it is not a well known word nor is it searched as other typical terms for weddings.
  6. Now run your keyword list through a keyword tool. I use Google’s. More recently Google has introduced the Keyword Planner. It still works well although it is harder to navigate than the keyword tool.
  7. You can also use Google suggests and Google Insights for more ideas for keywords.
    • As you type in the Google web search box, Google’s auto-complete algorithm offers search terms similar to the one you’re typing. The suggest terms are popular search terms and this will give you clues for your own keyword list.
    • Google Insights helps you identify patterns. Insights is particularly good for e-commerce and identifying and comparing different terms for the same product. You can search by region (down to the provincial level), by season and by year.

Happy keyword hunting!

How do you search for keywords? Any other tips? Please leave me a comment and add to the conversation.

Cross-posted on LearnWP

2 thoughts on “SEO: Compiling your keywords for search success”

  1. Hi, Dawn;

    I agree that it’s important to think about what the lay person would search for. Someone wanting content for their construction website (who doesn’t know about Internet marketing) will unlikely search for “SEO copywriting services.” Instead, something like “construction website writer” or “construction writing new website” would likely be used as the search string.

    Enjoyed the read; thanks for sharing.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sean. When I suggested asking lay people, it came from my experience with professionals. When I asked them to list some search terms, they gave me “industry terms” that lay people just wouldn’t use.

      When you say that people would not likely search for “SEO copywriting services” as a search term, they would have to be incredibly new to search and the web. They might not use that exact term, but SEO web writer might be more in line with what they might search for. Of course, I realise that I might be falling prey to that same industry speak that I try to help my clients avoid.

      Appreciate your thoughts and comments.

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