Let’s talk about the very basics of SEO for a minute. When you have a new site that you need to do some optimization for, what is the first thing that you need to do? The title of this post gives it away. You need to research your keywords. This means, you need to decide on the keyword phrases that you want to rank for, and then use current search statistics to decide exactly which phrases you are going to target. In order to show exactly how I do this, I am going to give you an example with my mother’s crafting website. The site still needs to be reworked, however this will give us a good head start on the SEO portion of it.

To start, I’m just going to name off as many keyword phrases that come to my head. I say the word “phrases” because one word terms generally are more difficult to rank for, and many people aren’t searching for one word terms such as “patterns.”

To start, I’m thinking about using these keywords:

craft patterns

Christmas patterns

Christmas craft patterns

holiday patterns

holiday craft patterns

animal patterns

animal craft patterns

quilt patterns

cute patterns

adorable patterns

There. That is a good list. I just named off everything that came to my head. Another good strategy would be to look over the site for keyword phrases already being used. This is a brainstorming session, so take anything and everything you can think of. Another good tip would be to look at your competitor’s website. View the source code and find the META Keywords section of the code. This section should be a good representation of what keywords your competitor is looking to rank for. This spy work can really help you against the competition.

Once we have the keywords, we are going to use the Google AdWords tool. I’m going to copy and paste our list into this tool (making sure to keep ‘Use Synonyms’ checked) and sort the results by Global Monthly Search Volume.

What this tool does is tell me what the search volume of the terms I entered in are, as well as other terms I might have missed. We always want to use the Global Monthly Search Volume, because it has an overall look at the keyword instead of just by the month.

From here, I will take all of the relevant results and list them in an spreadsheet along with their monthly search volume. I am throwing out all the free patterns (these patterns aren’t free) as well as many of the quilting keywords (we don’t sell a lot of quilts). The next step is to take the Google volume of each phrase by searching each phrase in Google. I then take the Google volume and divide that by the search volume to find a ratio. I then sort the keywords by ratio from smallest to largest.

This gives us a somewhat scientific method in finding a nice combination of search volume and search competition. The most ideal keywords will be those with a lot of searches and little competition for those keywords. However, the keywords we decide to use also are based on the resources we have for future SEO work. If you have the resources to put everything you can at this website, then you might as well use the keywords with the most search volume because the effort will eventually pay off. If you want to see rankings right away, then you should choose the keywords with lower Google volume. For example, the keyword “primitive craft patterns” would be a good term because it could get ranked for quickly and it does have 1300 monthly searches. Think about getting the 1st result in Google for this term in the next month or two. That would mean 1300 people finding your website and reading your title and description.

In this situation, I like to focus both on some long phrases as well as the short phrases, and match them up. For example, I really like the term “primitive craft patterns” as well as just “craft patterns.” What I can at first is focus my efforts on just “primitive craft patterns” and rank for that quickly. While I am doing that, the term “craft patterns” will be helped and we should see some traction on that keyword because of the similarity. Once we rank well for “primitive craft patterns,” I can drop “primitive” from my SEO efforts, and I already have that head start on my main term of “craft patterns.” I can do this same thing for my other keywords such as “Christmas craft patterns” or “Christmas quilt patterns.”

Finally, I find it is a good idea to pick maybe three or four actual keyword phrases. We only have so much space on the website, and we don’t want to dilute our SEO resources over many keywords. I will use the rest of this list though. I always need a good amount of keywords to track rankings. As we start to gain traction on our main keywords, we should see success on those longer keyword phrases.

I hope this guide will be helpful to all of you as you get started on your next SEO project. I will update this guide as I learn better techniques and find out new strategies.