Keyword Research Basics

Hey Brainiacs, welcome to the next topic of SMX Sydney’s bootcamp and I hope enjoyed the last post for search engine marketing basics. Today I will be going over the keyword research which is known as the backbone of SEO. This session was originally presented by Camilo Hilario from FirstClick, ok let’s get started.

Keyword research is like a puzzle

Image source: Flickr user – Jehsom

Basically, keywords are the backbone of SEO as they fit into the coding of a web page; the content and the links associated with that page. Keywords fit in the title tags, H1 tags and the meta data comprised of meta tags and meta description. The content of a page is also comprised of keywords such as in the headings, paragraphs. Lastly, keywords also fit in text-links provided that you optimize the anchor text and are also found in the navigation bar.


Keyword objectives

Before you start the keyword research process, you should establish your keyword objectives for the following reasons:

1) It will help you select the most relevant and popular keywords for your website;
2) It will help you tailor your keywords to the right audience; and
3) The right keywords will bring the right audience.


Obstacles in keyword research

There is a lot of subjectivity surrounding keyword research as everyone will have their own opinion of what keyword they think you should be targeting. The key is to have a balance between popularity and relevance. To make the keyword research process simpler, you should develop a shortlist of the keywords you wish to target. The shortlist consists of:

1) Head term – this relates to the popularity of the keyword which is measured in the number of visits/visitors to your page. Additionally, head terms will account for most of your visits, however, although they may more visits, converting on these visits are significantly lower.

2) Long tail – this relates to the relevancy of the keyword which is usually a keyword phrase. In this case, long tail will have lower traffic but chances are that those people are looking to convert i.e buy your product. People in this group are the right audience as they are most likely at the end of the buying cycle.


Important questions to ask yourself


important questions in keyword research

Image source:

1) What kind of search terms are people searching for?
2) How relevant are those search terms to my business? Your keywords must be relevant to your products and services.
3) How am I going to convert? The right keyword may get you the conversion if you bring them to the right page.


Sources and tools


Use the right tools

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There are various tools out there for keyword research comprised, some of which are paid while the others are free. Some of the paid tools are Wordtracker, Keyword discovery and Market Samurai. The free tools are Microsoft Ad Center, Google Suggest, Google Wonderwheel, Google keyword research tool, Google insights and Google trends. One other thing you can do is to research your competitor’s website and see what keywords they are using.

Using these sources you should be able to gather a large list of keywords as it is important to have a larger list first then refine it later.


Keyword shortlist

Make a shortlist from your expanded list of keywords and to do this you should use a structure like this:

1) Start with a broad topic such as mobile devices or apps as these will be your head terms.
2) Group your keywords into relevant categories and look into topics or general products such as iphone apps.
3) Drill down your shortlist into specific keywords relevant to your site such as iphone app developer; these will be your long tail terms.


Refining your shortlist

Using excel, organize your keywords into fields consisting of phrase match, exact match, local competition, KEI and R/S.

Phrase match: basically this includes the whole phrase and all the words in front and back of that phrase.

(everything in the front) ______mustang cars______ (everything in the back)

Exact match: The search volume for that specific keyword(s) exclusive of terms in the front or back.

(does not include words in the front)______mustang cars______ (does not include words in the back)

Local competition: this relates to the search volume for that keyword(s) from the country you’ve chosen.

R/S: This refers to the “Results to Search ratio” which is calculated by the following formula: Phrase match √∑Local Competition.

KEI: This refers to the “Keyword Effectiveness Index” which is calculated by the following formula: Local Competition √∑Phrase match.

R/S and KEI both focus on the relationship between local competition and monthly searches so you can use either one to help you sort your keywords.


Research your competitors


observe your competition

Image source:

Who are your competitors? Once you have this information, look at the source code of their website and see what they are using in their headings and meta data. Include their targeted keywords in your research. Also, type them into Google search and assess how competitive they on the SERPS. Ask yourself: Can you do what they are doing? Can you add the same content they have and if you can then go an extra step by providing more value.

Important note: Make sure you review your keywords regularly to weed out the bad ones and to find out the effective ones. Review them every time you update your content and check you rank regularly too. Make sure you also check Google webmaster tools to review the CTR (Click-through-rate) and bounce rates.


Top SEO tips


1) Make sure you keep your content fresh and updated.
2) Don’t keyword stuff in anywhere!
3) Start big then aim small (start with a large list of keywords then refine them into a smaller list. begin with a popular or common head term and remember that long tail keywords are your friends.
4) Make a shortlist.
3) Tailor you keywords to different scenarios such as:
- Marketer’s need to know what they need to target.
- Developer’s need to know what to build on the website for your selected keywords.
- Copywriter’s need to know what the keywords are so they can write content around it.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Until next time, this is +Jahn Sapanlay signing out.


  1. Keyword research is the most important aspect of SEO. Some great suggestions and ideas. keep the blogs coming.

  2. matt says:

    I have got one idea for your website. It seems like at this time there are a few cascading stylesheet issues while opening a number of web pages in google chrome as well as firefox. It is running fine in internet explorer. Perhaps you can double check this.

  3. Aundre says:

    That saves me. Thanks for being so snesilbe!

  4. Arvind says:

    Keyword research is really very important parts of SEO process. You have mentioned almost all points in short that will be definitely helpful for beginners. ..

  5. Lee Baldwin says:

    Nice collection of techniques. Ever try KW Rank Checker, the FF plugin from SEOBook? For a given domain it lists rank of your kw terms for Google Yahoo! and Bing. Kinda like radar. Cheers – Lee

  6. Agentia Web says:

    Thank you for the suggested free tool! I’ll use them.

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