A Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Every day millions of people search for things on the Internet. They do these searches using keywords and keyword phrases. When they type these keywords into search engines (like Google) they get back a list of search results (typically ten per page).

The single most important thing you can do to drive traffic to your web site is have one of your company’s web pages show up in the first page of the search results for a popular keyword. This will create more business than any other advertising or marketing method you try.

Keyword Research, which is a key step in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about finding a list of keywords that not only match with what you are selling, but are associated with the most popular searches out there. This is not as easy as you might think.

The biggest reason people fail to drive traffic to their web sites is because they assume they know what the best keywords are and they do not spend enough time doing research. So, go ahead and assume that you are clueless about this. Just assume that you have no idea what terminology people use to find your products and services.

Most SEO people recommend that you start by brainstorming a list of keywords and then use a keyword research tool to analyze all these keywords. Well, that works if you have been doing SEO work for many years, but I am guessing that does not describe you.


Trust me. I wasted a lot of time trying to implement all the strategies I read about from the SEO experts. Much of the advice is conflicting or just plain does not work. When you are dealing with an area in which you have little to no experience, the best strategy is to locate someone that is doing well and copy what they are doing.

The first thing you should do is locate and visit the web sites of your competitors. You will want to identify what keywords and phrases they are using. If you are not sure who your competitors are, now is the time to find out. And how do you do that? Well with keyword searches, of course.

Start with the most basic keyword or phrase used to describe your primary product or service. For example, if you own a small hardware store, then hardware would be that keyword. Do a Google search for that keyword and take a look at the results on the first page. These are your main competitors.

Go to the web sites of the top ten competitors and see what keywords they are using. You do this by looking at the page source and how you get this varies on what browser you are using. If you are using Internet Explorer, you click Page and View Source. If you are using Mozilla Firefox, you click View and Page Source. If you are using Google’s Chrome, you right-click within the browser and click View page source.

Do not panic if what you see looks like a foreign language. You are looking for a very specific bit of code and you can do a Find to get to it. How you do a find depends on your browser. For Internet Explorer and Firefox, go to Edit and Find. For Chrome, you click this little page icon in the top right corner and then click Find in page.

Type the word “keywords” into your find tool. There should be only one place where this is used and it is typically at the top of the page. Go through the list of keywords for each of your ten competitors and write down the ones that you think apply to your business. Make sure you write down at least ten keywords or phrases.

There are lots of keyword research tools out there and which one you like is a matter of preference. I suggest you start with the free Google AdWords tool. It not only indicates how popular a keyword or phrase is, but it also does a good job of suggesting alternatives. Additionally, you can use this tool after your web site is deployed to do a website content search.

Enter all the keywords and phrases you identified by putting each one on a separate line. Click Get keyword ideas to start the search. The results you get back will help you determine which keywords are best and may help you identify new ones.

Start by adding a new column to your search results. You do this, by selecting the drop down box, Choose columns to display and clicking Show Estimated Avg. CPC. Click on this newly added column twice to sort the results from highest to lowest. You want the keywords with the highest CPC to appear at the top of the results.

Go through the results and identify keywords you want to keep. Select at least five from the first grouping of results, which are the keywords related to the terms you entered. Look for terms that have a high CPC and a high search volume, but have a little white space in the Advertiser Competition column. You might also pick at least one term that is associated with a very high search volume. Finally, look for terms that align closest with what you are selling.

Now move down to the next grouping, which are the additional keywords to consider. You should select another five terms from this list. Use the same selection logic as you used for the other group of terms. Congratulations. You did it. You came up with your first list of keywords. This does not mean you are completely through with keywords, but this is a good start.

I now recommend that you take this list of keywords and create a Google Pay Per Click Ad using them. The ad only needs to run for a few days. At the end of it, the keywords that performed the best or got the most clicks should be the ones you use in the Meta tags of your web site.

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Sara Morgan


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