Finding the right keywords is critical from the start! The keywords that you choose for your website and content set the stage or foundation for everything your company does online. Keywords determine how people find you online, how you should go about building your SEO and paid search campaigns around them, and keywords also dictate how the search engines categorize your website or find you. In this Daily Brow Bag, you’ll learn about keyword research, how you can pick the right keywords for your budget, and how putting time into solid keyword research can make all the difference early as you’re kicking off your SEO campaign. You’ll learn about great keyword tools, such as Google’s keyword tool and Webmaster Tools, and tips on how to set your campaign up for success.

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Hello, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today we’re going to be talking about SEO keyword research. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Yeah, good morning, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag. This topic of keyword research, when you’re talking about search engine optimization, it is really important. And probably nowhere is it more important, Chad, than for our white label SEO community. Because our white label SEO resellers -- out there, carrying our products and selling search engine optimization -- are in a sometimes awkward position of setting expectations with clients who really don’t understand how SEO works. That’s where doing good SEO keyword research is going to come in.

These keywords that you pick for your website and the content are really going to be the foundation for everything a company does online.

If you’re consulting with a small business and talking to them about what you found online, this is really, really important.

  • These keywords are going to determine how people find you.

  • They’re going to dictate how the search engines categorize the small business website and ultimately then how the end user using the search engine are going to find that small business.

  • In the end, you’re going to help the client build an SEO strategy and a paid search campaign around these keywords.

You can see it’s sort of the foundation of everything an SEO reseller should be talking to a small business about when it comes to getting more customers online. Yet, Chad, we see this all of the time, SEO keyword research is often overlooked. We’ve talked about it in our white label SEO webinars and in our four o’clock Q&A session.

Putting time into solid keyword research, as you’re kicking off that search engine optimization campaign, is really critical for all the tactics that follow.

So I think I want to talk a little bit about how our white label SEO resellers can do excellent research here. What should they be doing?

Simplifying keyword research into a couple of different categories:

Discovery or the discovery phase

You’re just trying to understand what keywords are out there that people are using. One of the things we most commonly see when people are starting to do initial keyword research is that they don’t really think about the intent someone has when they’re searching. It’s very easy for someone to find a keyword that has a lot of search volume and say, “That’s my keyword.” But they don’t actually kind of flip the telescope around and say, “Who’s on the other end of that search? Is that really my prospective customer?”

Again, in the discovery phase, there are a couple of different places that we recommend that you keep in mind:

1. Google’s Keyword Tool.

Google's keyword tool is a great resource, and you can generate lots of ideas there.

2. Go look at your Webmaster Tools.

Google is already finding things on your website. You may be ranked on page two or three, so, a lot of times if you look at that, that’s a great resource or place to find potential keywords that Google already said are relevant to your website but maybe not ranking on the first page where all of the clicks are coming from.

3. AdWords Advertising.

I always like recommend referring to AdWords advertising, if you are doing any kind of advertising, which is another great resource to see: where are you getting clicks? Where are you getting conversions?

4. Use a tool like our Web Grader, or there are other ones out there.

If you utilize a tool like our Web Grader, you can actually plug in some competitors and there are third party services that can actually figure out what keywords those competitors are ranking on.

If you put all of that together, that’s going to give you a good basis for the keywords that you might want to have your website rank on.

Now really comes the tricky part because you’ve got to figure out:

  1. In which of those keywords is there intent to actually have someone buy your product? Because you don’t want to have someone try to optimize your website for a keyword that’s not relevant or not really going to get your business.

  2. Which of those keywords are actually within your budget?

SEO, Keywords and Rankings

Sometimes people come to us and say, “I need to rank on these keywords.” We can look at that and say, “There’s a certain level of effort that’s going to be required to knock the guys who are already on the first page and the second page out of those spots, and so we need to put this amount of effort into it.” Sometimes people come to us and say, “Sky’s the limit. I just need to rank on these keywords.”

Setting Realistic Expectations

But oftentimes what happens is people come to us and say, “Look. I probably have about this much money per month that I can invest in SEO.”And this is where the tricky thing comes in, Adam -- as you said setting realistic expectations -- because what you want to do, is you want to choose keywords that, if you get the rankings, when you get the rankings, are actually going to get business to that website, but aren’t so difficult that, with the budget they provided, that you’ll never be able to hit those rankings. There’s a balancing act there. A lot of different people have different ways of approaching it.

What we try to do is use things like:

The monthly search volume and the estimate cost per click to determine how competitive that keyword might be in order to help figure out and right size your keywords that you’re going after into your budget.

There’s definitely a really tricky part there, and, again, people always want to come and pick the big keywords. Picking the big keywords can look really good when you’re signing up the project; however, if you pick a big keyword that you’re never going to rank on six months from now, you’re not going to keep that customer for the long-run. So you want to be smart at picking the right keywords for the budget.

Choose Longtail Keywords:

Sometimes that means you want to look at longtail keywords. You might want to pick some fairly aggressive keywords, but then also try to pick some longer tail keywords. And, Adam, I think you’ve used the term -- it’s sort of like a canary in the coal mine -- you want to be able to test and see and show that your program is effective. And, so, over time, you’re earning trust with the client.

Again, you want to do that initial discovery, and you want to then apply the filters to keep the keywords that are right for their budget -- they’re not too competitive. I think that’s the most successful way to approach picking keywords for your campaign..

Takeaways On Finding the Right Keywords

Excellent, Chad. Really, there’s a lot in this topic -- as you’ve just covered. Our take home point is that SEO keyword research is a really important activity. It’s the foundation of your campaign for all of the different things Chad just reviewed, and I agree with all of them.

SEO keyword research has ties into setting expectations, client management, longevity. Again, I know our white label SEO resellers are always dying to close the deal -- they’re very revenue-focused, they’re focused on sales; that’s awesome. The downside is that there can be a tendency to rush through this phase, and for all of the reasons Chad just covered, we would advocate: Don’t do that.

Set your campaign up for success with careful analysis upfront.

Yes, it’s more complicated than you want it to be. You want it to be, “Well, I’m selling a five keyword package. Here you go. Pick your five.” We hear it all of the time. That’s so much easier to sell. People understand that. We get that, but there’s a balance here because you also don’t want to be in a position where you’re losing your customers every 90 days because of poor expectations. It comes down to setting these expectations around keywords.

That’s our Brown Bag for today. Excellent topic -- one that, probably Chad, we could talk about for a few hours. Just a taste test of that, of SEO keyword research. We really appreciate you joining us, and we hope you’ll subscribe so we can see you back for another video really soon.