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Select the right keywords for SEO success

An entire SEO campaign is based on the keywords that are chosen since they should be incorporated into every piece of content that is published as part of an online marketing campaign. Incorporating keywords naturally into the actual website content in order to improve rankings is really only one small part of the overall strategy. These selected keywords are also used within blog posts, articles, press releases, blog comments, online profiles, and social media posts which are created to build relevant inbound links and generate traffic to the site. Keywords are the foundation of an SEO and online marketing campaign and they need to be relevant and attainable. If the selected keywords aren’t completely relevant or are too broad and very competitive, it will be difficult to generate traffic from target audience members that are the most likely to convert.

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Because selected keywords can either make or break your campaign and influence all SEO activities that are completed, SEO keyword research is the first step of the SEO process. Unfortunately, many website owners choose to skip over this step, thinking that they already know which keywords to target. What website owners need to realize is that while they might have an idea of some of the keywords that should be targeted, new opportunities (specifically long tail keywords) often appear within the research. Not conducting keyword research means that business owners are just getting in their own way. Someone searching may be using different terminology than what someone that’s been in the industry for years may be using.

The first step in the keyword research process is to go through the business website page by page and brainstorm a list of potential keywords for each page that you’d like to target. Next, use a keyword tool to plug in these words and see what kind of related keywords show up. Google offers a great keyword tool that is free to use. Once the tool has generated a list for you, go through the list and pick out the ones that are the most relevant to your content. Remember, a tool is just a tool. It isn’t going to do all of the work for you.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a list of relevant keywords, the next step is to consider the competitiveness of the keyword. You don’t want to target something that is too broad and competitive because it will be nearly impossible to rank for it, especially if there are many big players in your industry that have established sites. For example, if you operate an e-commerce site, it’s not realistic to think that Amazon and eBay are your competitors. Because they are huge sites that have established trust, you’ll want to stay away from the keywords that they are ranking for. Instead, focus on more niche keywords that have less competition. These keywords are often long tail keywords. If you operate a local business, be sure to localize the keyword by adding the city, state, neighborhood, etc. which automatically makes it less competitive since you will only be competing with those in your local area.

If you are just getting started with SEO or have just launched a website it’s important to be realistic when it comes to the keywords to target. Go after long tail (niche) keywords to start. Over time as your website gains some momentum and becomes more trusted, you may be able to add some more broad keywords into the mix.

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