If you’ve been following the series on Keyword Seeds and Keyword Research over the last couple of months, I’ve been writing about how to perform really good keyword research through a series of tactics that I call the “Keyword Seed Method”.

Don’t bother to go look that up in Google, as I think I’m the only one in the world who calls it that. But it helps me to think of keywords as “seeds” of information that will eventually grow into a “garden of possibilities”, if you will allow me the artistic license. I’ve been reading a lot of classic literature lately.

I received many emails from readers (Thank you!) who didn’t exactly follow my logic, so I wanted to wrap up the process as clearly and briefly as possible… and brevity is not my strong suit, nor is good keyword research ever brief.

Understanding The Questions To Ask

To begin with, you need to make sure you understand the industry you’re working with. If it’s your own site you are researching, what you need to focus on is getting past the jargon and trying to determine how your site appears to someone outside the industry.

If you’re working for a client, chances are that you can provide a lot of insight into the layman’s terms, but may not know the jargon. You need both in your research, so working with someone in this stage can be very helpful. See 5 Questions to Streamline your Keyword Research.

Identifying The Top Level Topics

Once you start doing research, you’ll probably discover that the “keyword universe” is broader and more diverse than you ever realized. Your job at this point is to identify the primary topics or “seeds” of research. See The Keyword Research Rabbit Hole for an example of how to do this.

Expanding & Growing Keyword Seeds

For each topic you identify, you’ll need to conduct the entire research process defined in Tips for Growing Keywords with Excel Formulas. An important point of clarification here is that this article goes through an example of just one keyword seed (deck) and how to expand it.

You will need to repeat the process for each of the topics you defined in the previous step. Some topics will expand to a list of hundreds of keywords, and some will expand to only a few dozen keywords. The “deck” example is one that can expand astronomically (I ended up with over 1000 keywords for that one), but not all of your topics will expand that much.

Planning & Mapping Keywords

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, once you’ve expanded the keywords to the point where you think your head might explode from all the pressure, you have to contract them again.

The goal is to understand the entire universe of keywords around a topic so that you can identify which keywords are most valuable to you. The most important part of this step is the mapping; you’ll quickly be able to see where you have content that matches and where your content is lacking. See How to Develop a Keyword Plan for more on this.

By the time you finish this last step, you should have a “tree” (there I go with the seed metaphor again) of information that conceptually looks something like the below.

In reality, it will probably be an excel spreadsheet full of categories and keywords. I personally put each category on a separate tab, but whatever works for you is fine.

Example of Keyword Hierarchy

Time, Averages & Other Arbitrary Numbers

One question I got asked a lot in the reader feedback was how long it takes to do keyword research like what I’ve outlined. The real answer is that it’s up to you, but I spend about 10 hours on average for an average size site.

That number can change of course, if you have a site with thousands of products, or if you have several different target markets you need to appeal to. If you have an overwhelming number of products, it may help you to work on a few categories at a time, rather than trying to cover the whole spectrum at once.

What Tools Do I Use?

I personally use the Google Keyword Tool more than anything else available, but there are dozens of good keyword tools (paid and free) as well as different strategies that you can use to decide what keywords to target.

After Google’s recent announcement of match type changes, I’ve decided to demo several tools I am not as familiar with, so that I can do a review of those along with the ones I already like using. Stay tuned, and let me know in the comments if there are any you want me to consider demo’ing.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | How To | How To: SEM | How To: SEO | Keywords & Content

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About The Author: is the President of an online marketing consulting company offering SEO, PPC, and Web Design services. She's been in search since 2000 and focuses on long term strategies, intuitive user experience and successful customer acquisition. She occasionally offers her personal insights on her blog, JLH Marketing.

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  • Vendita Auto

    Best long term advice to the client buy the keyword under a brand com or cc in any industrialised language with a population of over 50m whilst the values are not understood (unlike English) use the keyword as a brand or to co-brand the registrants brand for trust & integrity, use the lifetime advantage.

  • http://www.austinot.com/ Brittany Highland

    SiteSell actually has a keyword tool that does all of this work for you. It’s pretty incredible. You pop your primary keyword idea in and it pulls in up to 1,000 other possible keywords. I don’t work for SiteSell nor do I get paid to say this…though I have been a customer for going on 4 years. I no longer host any sites through SiteSell, but I continue to pay $300/year to use their keyword tool.

  • SilvaDesiree

    Lot of peoples are attracted towards making money online. If you do this in a proper way, the online work can bring you extra income. Recently I got a webpage, where you can kick a good start 300$ in a day or even more depends up to your skills and working hours, Look this for further details. ⇛►http://startbytoday.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/jennyhalasz Jenny Halasz

    Thanks for the tip! I’ll check them out for the next article. Anyone from SiteSell want to give me a free trial? ;-)

  • Rajesh Magar

    Well Thanks Jeeny
    Your Blog is pretty beneficial for me, and yes I’ve the one question which  I’ve been searching from long time to get the current answer about it.I just wanted to know the methodology of other keyword suggestion tools, Like we all know that Google records all query details people insert in search box so its pretty simple form them to show us the keywords suggestion. So what about those other tools like spyfu.com, Keywordstream.com. Who this guy get this details about what people been searching for & what keyword they using. Hope you will help out at least. 

  • http://www.erikeric.com/ erikeric

    Thanks for the handy chart, Jenny. Good overview. I use KeywordStrategy.org for researching and monitoring phrases – have you ever tried that one? You have to agree with the philosophy that each keyword phrase should only be targeted on one page each. Although I think I understand why, it doesn’t seem to be true for every case.

  • http://twitter.com/jennyhalasz Jenny Halasz

    Thank you everyone for the suggestions of keyword tools to check out. Some were already on my list, but some were not yet.

  • GambleIrma29

    just as David implied I’m amazed that you able to make $5939 in a few weeks on the internet. did you see this web link===>>⇛►http://freelancer111.blogspot.com  

  • http://www.slideshare.net/purebredbreeders/purebred-breeders-reviews-purebredbreederscom yonowillis

    Keyword research has always been the most valuable tool in online marketing. I was really looking for such tips for the best keyword research tools and got that from your blog.

 

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