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Website Planning Guide Part 5: Determine Optimal Search Phrases

Ready to start writing the content for your new website? Stop!

Before rushing into content creation, take a step back. This is the perfect time to start thinking about search engine optimization (SEO) — before you commit words to your website. SEO is the process of getting found by search engines for important words and phrases. Before writing your content and page titles, take a little time to understand what words your audience are using to find firms like yours.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is where SEO begins. The concept is fairly simple: figure out which words and phrases people will use when they search for your firm in Google and other search engines.

The keyword research process goes something like this:

  1. Brainstorm a list of keyword phrases relevant to your company
  2. Research how many people search for each phrase
  3. Research the difficulty of ranking for each phrase
  4. Identify the phrases that have a high search volume and low difficulty
  5. Create a web page for each keywork phrase you want to target

 
The content writer should work these keyword phrases into the pages of the site. In this way you help search engines understand what words you are attempting to rank for.

How Do I Start Keyword Research?

Of course, the entire SEO process is a bit more complex than that. Implementing keywords properly and then improving rankings can be quite a challenge, so you may want to engage a professional to help you.

You can, however, at least start this process on your own by tapping your industry expertise and using a little imagination. Visit Google’s free Keyword Tool and start brainstorming phrases that are relevant to your firm's services. As you type in keywords, the tool will reveal approximate monthly search volumes for each phrase. In addition, it will provide a list of related keywords you may not have thought of.

For example, if you work in a New York-based accounting firm, here are some keyword phrase you may want to try:

  • Accounting services
  • Accounting firm
  • Tax services new york
  • CPA services nyc

 
You will quickly begin to see that some phrases are more desirable, based on how many people are Googling each one. You will also discover that many of the broader terms (“accounting firm,” for instance) are more competitive — and often difficult to attain. In general, the more specific the term, the easier it is to rank for. And while more specific keyword phrases tend to have lower search volumes, the people who search on them are usually much more qualified and motivated to buy. That's the beauty of SEO.

I recommend working with an SEO expert to nail down the optimal phrases for each of your web pages (or at least the 5-10 most important pages on your site). Having a list of target keywords will help you write about the services on your site.

SEO is an ongoing process with many moving parts. But conducting keyword research in the website planning phase is critical. This research provides the foundation for much of the content on your site. Start exploring your keyword options today. It can be an exciting journey!

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