Learn the Basics of SEO Series: Keyword Research

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can seem like a tricky subject to master, especially if it’s not your full time gig. Not only do you have to learn about on-page tweaks, keyword research, and link building, but you also have to pay close attention to Google’s algorithm changes and how those impact your page’s rankings on the search engine.

Back when the internet was in its early days, SEO was all about keyword stuffing. Meaning Google was likely to rank your site higher if you had the keyword you were targeting (say “kids toys) a bunch of times on your site. Next came the PBNs, these are public backlink networks. It was where you could get tons of backlinks (more on that later) for your site to help increase your rankings. Google caught on and in their next algorithm update they penalized sites using PBNs.

The SEO world is constantly changing, but we’re going to give you some tips on the basics that can help you build a general understanding of the field.

Why is SEO so important?

How many times a day do you pull up a search engine to look something up or type in a question? According to a report by Fleishman Hillard, 89% of all consumers begin their shopping process on a search engine.

That’s a huge chunk of your potential audience that you may not be reaching! This is why SEO can be so important for your business.

Questions to ask yourself during keyword research phase

Moz has an excellent beginner’s guide to SEO on their site. In it, they have a few questions you should be asking yourself during the keyword research phase. Answering thse question will help ensure you’re targeting the right keywords.

  • Is the keyword relevant to your website’s content?
  • Will searchers find what they are looking for on your site when they search using these keywords?
  • Will they be happy with what they find?
  • Will this traffic result in financial rewards or other organizational goals?

Keyword Research Process

Keyword research is still a key part of the SEO process. Doing even just basic research means you are ahead of the game. If you are in a competitive space like sunglasses, you can’t just target sunglasses. If you do some homework, you’ll realize that “sunglasses” is dominated by big name brands and sites. It will be extremely difficult if not impossible to rank on the first page of Google for that term.


Graphic via Moz.com

Rather, you want to go after keywords that are easier to rank for. Often, these are terms that are longer and referred to as “long tail keywords”. A term like “white mens sunglasses” would fit the bill. These are easier to rank for because there is less competition and less searches. But if you can gain the majority of those few searches, and do that for multiple long tail keywords you will be seeing a good deal of traffic.


Moz Keyword Explorer

If you check out the screenshot above from Moz’s Keyword Explorer. You will notice that “white mens sunglasses” has a search volume of 101-200. That is the number of searches that term gets per month. It’s not very much, so you will want to play around with different terms because even just switching words around or taking an “s” off something (cat toy v. cat toys) can change the search volume and difficulty of ranking.

Use tools like :


You may not find a keyword during your first or second search. It may take a few tries to find the perfect keyword for your business that is realistic to rank for.

In our next part of the series, we’ll discuss how to use these keywords in your marketing and on your website to improve your SEO.

About MARKIT Group

MARKIT Group is a full-service traditional and digital marketing and public relations firm with an emphasis on social media, reputation management and monitoring, as well as brand management. Headquartered in Bonita Springs, Fla., with offices in New York, Pittsburgh and Charleston, S.C. www.markit-group.com.
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