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Here’s What You Need to Know About SEO Keyword Research

So, you’re interested in starting a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign and want to know more about SEO keyword research. How can you find out what search keywords will be most effective for SEO and PPC advertising? What’s the difference between SEO and PPC?

keyword research

The difference between SEO and PPC lies in the distinction between organic and paid traffic. To find effective keywords for your SEM campaigns, you’re going to need to learn about SEO keyword research for driving traffic and advertising. Find out how to come up with the right search keywords and how to use SEO and PPC to drive traffic to your website.

How Are SEO and PPC Advertising Different?

SEO is the art and science of using search keywords to boost your website in search engine rankings. If you have good SEO, when a potential customer searches for a keyword relevant to your products or services, your website will appear in the first five search returns for that keyword. That’s where most websites get the bulk of their search traffic.

This traffic is known as organic traffic, because it happens naturally. It’s not something you can pay for — no amount of money will get your website into the top of the search rankings for its relevant keywords. Only strong SEO can do that. If you’ve got good SEO, you’ll see a consistent flow of traffic from search returns, but it may not translate to a high conversion rate.

PPC advertising is a service that you pay for — that’s why they call it “pay per click.” PPC results appear as a series of sponsored links at the top of and in the right sidebar of a search results page. If you quit paying for PPC ads, you’ll quit getting traffic from them, but you could get much better conversion rates from these returns than from organic traffic. People who click on PPC ads usually intend to buy the product or service they’ve searched for.

How Do You Decide What Keywords to Use?

A quality SEM campaign uses both SEO and PPC to increase brand awareness while boosting sales. You’ll use the same keywords for both, but you’re going to need to do keyword research first to find the best ones.

Start by brainstorming some keywords that your potential customers might use to find your products and services online. Forget about the words you think your customers ought to use, or the words you would like them to use. Think about the search terms your customers will really use. How would a customer describe your product or service if he or she was looking for your business online? Don’t forget to add seasonal or local modifiers, like “holiday sales” or “Ashland, Oregon.” Include any other modifiers that apply, like “free” or “buy one get one.”

Once you’ve brainstormed a list, find a keyword tool. Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a popular free option, but there are many paid services too. You need a keyword tool to search for relevant keywords that will get you a decent amount of traffic. A keyword tool gives you insight into the search terms your customer base actually uses and how popular they are. Try to find keywords that are as specific as possible to the services or products you provide while still remaining attractive to a fairly high level of traffic. Look at local monthly searches to find out what the people in your area — your potential customers — are searching for.

Search the Terms

Once you’ve chosen some keywords, search them to make sure they’re the right terms to lead customers to what you’re selling. It might seem like a search term is relevant to your business, but you’ll never know for sure until you plug it into a search engine and see what comes back. Discard any keywords that provide irrelevant results — they won’t get you anywhere.

SEO keyword research is the foundation of any successful SEM campaign. You’ll need high-performing keywords for both your PPC advertisements and your website’s SEO. When you learn how to do keyword research the right way, you’ll find that your SEM campaigns meet with more success.

About the Author: Contributing blogger Lorie Marvin has been working in content and media management since 2002.