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Keyword research is a basic but very important task for website optimization. I’m not going to cover all the ins and outs of keyword research in this post; but I’m hoping that after reading it, you’ll have a better understanding of how to do your keyword research more effectively.

A Common Mistake in Keyword Research

A common mistake people make when conducting keyword research is they keep the list too narrow. Here’s an example: let’s say I wanted to build a weight loss website. My first step would be to use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and type in ‘weight loss.’ Below is an example of the results from this search.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

At this point, many consider their research done and start building their site around the most trafficked phrases.

There are a couple of problems with this approach:

  1. Many of these keywords will be too competitive for my website.
  2. There are numerous other directions to approach this industry with keywords that I could actually rank for.

A Better Way to do Keyword Research

So what should be done instead? Rather than focusing on a narrow but deep list, consider many avenues to approach the site’s topic.

After a little brainstorming, here are additional phrases that relate to ‘weight loss’:

  • Lose weight
  • Burn fat
  • Fat loss
  • Dieting
  • Weight management

There are a multiple ways to approach this topic. Not every industry will have numerous variations, but there will be at least a few.

By going broad, you’ll find additional ways that people search for something. And chances are, you’ll also discover high-traffic phrases that are less competitive.

Once you have a broad list, utilize your favorite keyword suggestion tool and drill down deeper to find other related keywords. This creates an extensive list of keywords to consider for both SEO and PPC campaigns.

Getting Ideas for a Broad List

Here are several ways of going broad:

  • Use thesaurus.com to find synonyms for your main terms.
  • Use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Below the first list of recommendations, you’ll find another list of ‘Additional keywords to consider.’
  • Wordtracker.com is a useful tool that provides keyword suggestions.
  • Spy on your competition. Look at their titles, meta tags, and content to discern the keywords they are targeting.
  • Make a list of categories, brands, and any other classifications of products you sell or promote. People looking for a specific item or brand are more qualified visitors to your site anyway.

Get the Most Out of Your Keyword Research

By developing a broad keyword list and drilling it deeper, you’ll have a large list to pick from.

One caution: don’t go too broad. You want to be sure that any keyword you consider is relevant to the topic of your site. If a phrase is not relevant, take it off the list!

As you repeat the process, you’ll get the hang of it. As keyword research is one of the most critical tasks in online marketing, there will be plenty of chances to perfect your research skills.