When you first start off working on the SEO of a website, one of the first things you’ll need to do is keyword research. This is a very methodical process but can be trickier on larger and more complex sites.

If you are doing the SEO for a client or friend they may already have an idea as to what keywords they would like to be ranking for and that’s absolutely fine. But the more you dive into the research it may become clear that their ideas may not be the right direction for the campaign. With this initial work conducted for them, you can show them what keywords they should be aiming for and back it up with figures.

You need to remember; you’re not looking to pull in huge numbers of visitors, you need to be pulling in the right kind of visitors. If you were selling fruit online you wouldn’t want to waste time trying to rank highly for “fruit” or “apple” or “banana”, for example, as this too broad and people could be looking for all types of things like “how healthy is an apple” or “how to grow bananas”. The kind of key terms you want to aim for is slightly longer tail e.g. “fruit for sale” or “buy apples” etc.

There are many directions you can go in, you may also think about seasonal ideas e.g. “apples for bobbing” for party games and Halloween or “healthy smoothie fruits” for people wanting to detox as a new years resolution.

To start off with you will need to look at the structure of the site and work down from short tail key terms, all the way down to very specific and potentially long tail terms.

For example, if we went from the top of the imaginary fruit site all the way down to a specific apple. The site structure would follow a similar pattern to this-

  • Homepage (links to all the different fruits- Apples, Bananas, Grapes etc.)
  • Main Apple Section (links to- eating apples, cooking apples, popular apples etc)
  • Cooking Apple Section (links to specific cooking apples- Bramley, Crab Apple, Empire etc)
  • Specific Cooking Apple Page (for example- Bramley Cooking Apple Page)

That’s a very simplistic view of a top-down site structure, but I’m sure you could replicate the same thing for your own site.

Start creating key term ideas for each section of the site, taking the above example, i would suggest the following ideas-

  • Homepage- “Fruit for sale”
  • Main Apple Section- “Apples for sale”
  • Cooking Apple Section- “Cooking apples for sale”
  • Specific Cooking Apple Page- “Bramley cooking apple for sale”

With your list of keyword ideas, put these into Google Adwords Keyword Tool, make sure you set the search to “Exact Match” rather than the normal “Broad Match” search.

It should then give you an idea as to how many people are searching for that phrase and show you how difficult it could be to chase after that key term. It will also give you a list of ideas of other key terms people are searching, but you may not have thought of. This can be very handy as it can give you ideas for a different direction to head in. For example, instead of just selling apples, you could offer ideas for “Apple Pie Recipes” or “Cooking Apple reviews”.