Keyword research

Keyword research is a practice used by search engine optimization professionals to find and research actual search terms people enter into the search engines when conducting a search.

Background Data

Current data indicates that:
* 70.4% of the population of the United States is online [cite web | author = Internet World Stats | date = 2007 | url = | title = US Onine Population | publisher = | language = English |accessmonthday=November 11|accessyear=2007] ,
* there were 10.5 billion searches in the month of October [cite web | author = comScore | date = 2007 | url = | title = US October Search Volume | publisher = | language = English |accessmonthday=October 20|accessyear=2007] ,
* 91% of internet users use search engines [cite web | author = comScore | date = 2007 | url = | title = Search Engine Usage | publisher = | language = English |accessmonthday=October 08|accessyear=2007] ,
* there are approximately 142 million sites online [cite web | author = | date = 2007 | url = | title = Web sites Online | publisher = | language = English |accessmonthday=October 14|accessyear=2007] , or an estimated 30 billion web pages.

In this highly competitive and growing global market place, for a company to understand what terminology, keywords and phrases their online target market is utilizing to search for their offering, it is imperative that the company conduct extensive keyword research.

Potential Barriers

Branding Perceptions

Many company leaders and managers have their own interpretation of how they want their brand to be portrayed and ostensibly perceived online. A luxury second hand car dealer, for example, may only want to include the words ‘pre-owned automobiles’ on their web site, and not ‘used cars’. The fact that thousands of people are searching for a used car, and very few are searching for a preowned automobile needs to be communicated.

Existing Brands

If a company decides to sell Nike trainers online, the market is pretty competitive, and the Nike brand itself is predominant.

Generic keywords

Focusing on generic keywords that gain an enormous number of searches, but which also have an enormous amount of competition is usually not worth it unless the keyword is highly likely to provide you with converting traffic, and unless you have a very big marketing budget. Jill Whalen goes as far as to say that knowing the top words searched is of no value at all [cite web | author = Jill Whalen | date = 2007 | url = | title = Top Words Searched are Valueless | publisher = | language = English |accessmonthday=June 14|accessyear=2007] .

While determining what a company’s core ‘generic’ offering is, sourcing and data mining all the combination and permutations of how the words are used in conjunction with other related terms can provide a wealth of what are termed ‘long-tail’ keywords. (See below)

Overlooking geographic targeting

Depending on what a company sells or offers, overlooking the likelihood of the inclusion of geographical locations in the search query may be highly detrimental; ‘homes for rent Edmonton’, ‘used car dealer new york’, ‘chicago hotels’, ‘dallas Chinese restaurant’ etc.

Long Tail

The long tail is a type of statistical distribution where a high-frequency population is followed by a low-frequency population which gradually "tails off".

The long tail in keyword research is basically an expansion of a core, generic, high volume keyword phrase to include numerous combinations and permutations of the keywords and their associated or relevant phrases. These phrases individually are unlikely to account for a great deal of searches, but when taken as a whole, can provide significant traffic. The long-tail is unlikely ever to exceed searches for a brand name if the brand name is reasonably well established, but the volume of converting traffic these terms can generate by nature of their specificity and relevance is worth investigating. Ken Jurina reiterates that thorough keyword research consistently uncovers surprising topics in every study and presents him with numerically supported ratios that challenge his assumptions about his industry [cite web | author = Blog | date = 2007 | url = | title = Keyword Value | publisher = Blog | language = English |accessmonthday=September 18|accessyear=2007] .

Conducting Keyword Research

(Please note, this is not an entry on how to apply keyword research.). Keyword research should not be undertaken ad hoc. It is the foundation [cite web | author = Blog | date = 2007 | url = | title = Keywords the Foundations of SEM Campaign | publisher = | language = English |accessmonthday=May 12|accessyear=2007] . for all natural search engine optimization techniques as the keywords finally selected based on search volume and likely ability to compete should be included in some, if not all, of the following SEO onpage elements, as well as in any anchor text backlinking to the relevant webpages:
* Title tag
* Metadata
* Headers
* Actual Content
* Navigation links
* Image names
* Alt attributes

Christine Churchill, another noted SEO expert simply states that keyword research is the bedrock of successful web page optimization [cite web | author = BruceClay Blog | date = 2007 | url = | title = Keywords the Bedrock of SEM| publisher = BruceClay Blog| language = English |accessmonthday=Dec 04|accessyear=2007] .

ources of traditional paid and free keyword research data:

* Yahoo Panama Keyword Tool
* Google Keyword Tool, traffic estimator, Webmaster Tools; Google Suggest and Google Trends
* MSN Keyword Forecast
* Hitwise
* KeywordSpy

Uses of Advanced Keyword research

* Business Research- Product Research- Brand Equity- Competitive Intelligence- New Market & Product Opportunity Identification- Consumer Feedback

* Social Research- Political Topics- Public Issues- Celebrity Brand

Notes and references

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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