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Keywords unlock the true potential of your website

When you’re planning content for your website, it’s a good idea to do a bit of homework and pick topics your audience is already searching for.

Good keyword research is an essential first step in optimising your site to attract free, targeted search traffic – traffic that really can transform your online business. It’s also essential for successful search advertising / Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. But how do you go about choosing the right keyword phrases for customers looking to buy your products or services?

1. Become your audience

Put yourself in your audiences shoes for a minute… what would you type into that enticing blank box on the search engines, if you were looking for what you sell?

Try and really divorce yourself from what you know about your business here, and become one with the people you’re trying to reach out to. Brainstorm a short list (five or six) targeted keyword phrases that you feel customers would enter into a search engine to find what you’re offering.

These are your seed keywords, and you’ll use them as the foundation for, you guessed it, more research.

2. Ask your audience

This sounds like a really obvious thing to do… but surprisingly it’s often overlooked, particularly by smaller businesses.

The problem with the first step is that you, by and large, are not representative of your target market. You do, however, know who your primary target audience is, so go talk to some of them.

If you can get a small group of your primary market in a room to brainstorm, brilliant… if not, the tidal wave of interactive technologies that is Web 2.0 makes it easy to reach out and ask online in forums, social networks, e-mail discussion groups, etc.

3. Ask the search engines

Automated keyword research tools are another great way to find out what people are searching for. These tools take your seed keyword phrases and spew out alternative suggestions based on actual search data from leading search engines. In essence these show you exactly what people are searching for, and even give you an idea of the search volumes involved.

You’ll find lots of useful links to free and paid tools over on the SEO Book Keyword Tools page

We’ve just brushed the surface of using keyword research to fine-tune your website content here… but by using this as a foundation to building keyword strategies around what people are actually searching for you’ll be well on the way to generating sustained, targeted SEO traffic for your website.