Keyword Research Broken Down

Since I've been an SEO, I have always wondered about other SEO's approaches to keyword research. Sure there are a lot of blogs out there that claim to get you started, but what really is their process? Keyword research is one of my favorite things about SEO and I get excited looking at search data and plotting a strategy based on what's trending. With that being said, I'm going to give a full step by step breakdown of how I conduct keyword research. I'll use my most resent keyword research for the company NorthCoast CGI as an example.

1. I start the keyword research by going to Google Adwords Keyword tool and entering in "northcoastcgi.com" for Google's suggested keywords that could be used to market the site. When I conducted this search I used the setting "Broad" on the left hand side of the screen. The keywords that I received from that search do not have a bracket around them. When using the setting "Broad" the search volume results for each keyword are for that keyword, synonyms and strongly related grammar. Now you have a list. From here I downloaded the list into an excel file.

2. After that I used the keyword search tool to search related words and words given to me by the client. Some of these were computer generated imagery, 3d animation, and CGI. When I conducted this search I used the setting "EXACT". This setting only returns search volumes for the keywords it suggests and not anything else. The resulting keywords suggested are returned with brackets around them. I have 3 more lists.

3. Now that I have 4 lists with keywords, I use the good ole fashion competition over volume ratio. This ratio gives me a broad idea of which keywords that have the lowest amount of competition with highest amount of search volume. I start by deleting all columns after the "appx cpc". I then write the simple formula =D2/(B2*100) in the "E" column. "D2" is the competition and "B2" is the local search volume (U.S.). The "B2" the local search volume is multiplied by 100 to give a more usable number. Once you have numbers for the entire "E" column you sort the column from largest to smallest numbers using a table.

4. Repeat the process with the other 3 lists. At this point I usually go though the lists and comb through them with my client to eliminate and/or add keywords. Keywords at the very bottom of the list are eliminated unless the client really wants to use them for an extreme niche market. After the elimination process I usually take a quarter or so of each list and combine them into one table. Next I examine each keyword individually in comparison to other keywords in Google Insights http://www.google.com/insights/search/# and Google Trends http://www.google.com/trends. I highlight keywords that are trending or show promise. This part is up to your personal discretion.

There you go...tell me what you think of the process!

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