Conducting SMART Keyword Research

The Keyword Research Process

At PubCon’s Smart Organic Keyword Research and Selection session, Carolyn Shelby, Web Experience Manager for United Way of Metro Chicago, took us through the ABC’s of keyword research. Below are the key takeaways from her presentation.

Overall research process:

  • Create a “starter” keyword list. Make sure to include every and all keywords you can think of.
  • Refine this mass list into a master list.
  • After running through keyword research tools, prioritize the words by volume.
  • Rinse and repeat. Frequently.

Now, onto her ABC’s:

Analytics: Analyze results, pull top keyword traffic report and know which words are converting.  Implement Site Search on your site. This is a great way of knowing what people are looking for. If you don’t have specific content that visitors keep searching for, it’s a good idea to add it!

Audience: Know your audience. Don’t assume that they know industry “buzz” words. For example, in the travel industry, hotels/resorts are often referred to as “accommodations”.  It’s highly unlikely that a person outside of this industry refers to hotels that way. It’s more likely that they search for “hotel rooms” or “suites”.

Brainstorm: Get feedback on keywords from all departments from Sales to Customer Service. You’ll be amazed at the feedback you receive! People on the front lines are in tune with the language customers use to describe your service or product.

Create a Final Master List: Run your final list through your keyword research tool.

  • Look for high volume keywords;
  • Look for any variations and add to your list;
  • Remove keywords that do not have search volume.

Categorize: break out your keywords into 2 lists. One list is for those keywords where you have existing content on your pages.  The second list is for those keywords that you don’t have content for. Make sure to add content for those specific keywords.

Below are a few keyword research tools suggested by Will Reynolds, founder of SEER Interactive:

Overall, the lesson here is to think outside of the box when compiling keyword lists. You may not even know that there are other terms being used by your audience to describe your product and/or service. By tapping into various resources and outlets, you may be surprised as to how many other opportunities you have!


Will Reynolds, Founder, SEER Interactive

Carolyn Shelby, Web Experience Manager, United Way of Metro Chicago

Craig Paddock, Managing Partner, Boost Search Marketing

Mark Jackson, President/CEO, VIZION Interactive Inc.

Moderator: Joe Laratro

Contributed by Zulema Romero for Milestone Internet Marketing

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