SEO research (also known as keyword analysis) is essential to developing a comprehensive Search Engine Optimization strategy upon which it is built. Carrying out this sometimes monotonous, detail-rich endeavor is at the top of my daily to-do list, so I want to share a few observations.
Variations on a Theme
First, it is not for the faint-hearted. Plunging into regions of the unknown, and bravely choosing terms to hang your hat on…this is the SEO researchers task. Once headed into “back-to-school sale,” for instance, you will discover every possible combination of related phrases, including plural, singular and those involving a number of different pronouns. It will seem unending, but there is no turning back. Any one of these keywords could be the gem you seek, but it takes completing the research on each to find out.
SEO Research Big Picture in Detail
Second, succeeding means understanding the big picture while focusing in on the small. In order to choose meaningful relevant keywords, to begin with, researchers must know their topics. Consider the many considerations parents face when researching back-to-school shopping for their kids. Without knowing something about current ergonomic thought, for instance, how would terms like “rolling backpack” or “wheeled backpack” come up? Brainstorming ideas under the correct topic umbrella is important and can be difficult. For this, it helps to have a broad knowledge base for SEO research.
Third, one must recognize the social, economic and political context in which the target audience operates. What is driving search trends? And, are similar phrases interchangeable? For example, increasing numbers of unemployed American adults are searching for “returning to school”, a phrase that seems synonymous with “back to school”. However, our back-to-school shoppers will not find what they are looking for using the term “returning to school.” Recognizing these sometimes subtle differences and making adjustments to your SEO strategies will save both time and resources from being squandered.
Finally, patience is essential. SEO research requires focus on what appears to be minutiae (but is actually very important stuff), repeatedly. There are many tools to help: Raven, SEOmoz, SEMRush, Majestic SEO. Developing a system, recording and analyzing data, consistently practicing your method — this all takes time. Lots of it. There isn’t another way.
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