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If you’re researching keywords, then you chances are you already know something about SEO marketing and the value of identifying search terms that will drive traffic to your website. Creating and maintaining a list of good keywords requires creativity and research. It’s a matter of identifying the selling features of your product or service, analyzing what your competitors are doing, considering your target audience and of course, knowing your budget. If you’ve done these things then you’re in a great place to determine the best keywords that will help convert advertising dollars into sales. Now to get started, we recommend first creating a “seed list” of brainstormed terms that make sense for your brand, product and audience.

Research and Testing

A good SEO company will do a thorough keyword and competitive analysis to find the search terms that are already working for you, and for your competitors. A keyword research tool, such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner, will help determine which keywords on your list are searched for most often. This will give you an idea of the volume of traffic that can be expected from each term. For more accurate results, just be sure to select the exact match under “match types”. Google Webmaster tools can also be used to see what search terms people are using to find you.

Along with the free tools, there are also many paid tools available for doing competitive keyword research. These are helpful when trying to determine the best keyword variations.

Consider Both Short-tail and Long-tail Keywords

While building a keyword list, keep in mind that various keywords represent different levels of interest or intent. Long-tail keywords are obviously longer, multi-word search terms that people use when they are looking for something more specific. If you are a shoe store specializing in men’s leather shoes, using a broad term such as “men’s shoes” will make it next to impossible to get into the top search results in the short term, but if you already have a large audience or have the patience to create one, it could also be a good strategy to have short-tail, high traffic keywords as your long term goal. However, a long-tail term such as “men’s handcrafted leather shoes” will reach people looking for something more specific. These people have already done some looking around and are more likely to know what they want. Taking it one step further–those who type in “price compare + “keyword” are obviously closer to making a purchase.

Optimize Your Results

Using advanced options and filters you can narrow down the results to show only those that relate most to your audience. So, if you’re targeting an English-speaking audience in Toronto, using those filters will help you hone in on what that specific market is searching for. Also, while you may theoretically have a large target audience because you ship your products globally, it is a good idea to check where most of your conversions/sales come from and focus on optimizing your content for the keywords used by that geographic region. A reputable SEO company with Google Analytics certified employees will help you find this data or set up an account to start collecting it.

A good strategy to get started is to select your list of 25 keywords and immediately run a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign for at least a month to see whether the traffic brings conversions. Then, based on those test runs, narrow the list down to ten keywords and developed optimized website content around those terms. Don’t forget to closely and frequently monitor the results, and tweak when necessary!