Keywords are the key component to success in organic and paid search. Keywords may seem simple enough to those of us that live and breath search queries everyday, but the reality is that it really does take a moment to step back and do some keyword research.

Sometimes how we assume someone searches isn’t necessarily the truth and search behaviors change over time (based on searchers getting savvier or the engines guiding them to search differently – Google instant being an example of an engine modifying search behavior). Sometimes the keywords that convert for your business are keywords that you may not even want in your web copy.

The goal of searching and search engines is that the person typing in keywords is asking a question and they are looking for an answer. Your goal in keyword research is to locate the keywords that your website or product can answer. The better you match your keyword to your website, the more likely you are to succeed in generating business using that keyword in SEO or paid search.

Playing with keyword research tools can really start to help you get to know the types of keywords people use when looking for items related to your business. There are a lot of keyword research tools out there, and the Google Adwords one tends to push you towards a broad match rather than exact match list of terms, so you want to make sure you use the exact match option for more accurate results.

When selecting keywords for SEO you want to be pretty specific about exact keyword searches as you don’t have the immediate luxury of testing a large variety of keyword searches like you do with paid search. With paid search you have the option to start broad and hone in on the best keywords for your business or start conservative with exact matches and expand your keyword lists over time (more information about Google Adwords keyword match types).

I typically suggest that you use paid search results to guide SEO keyword decisions as you have the opportunity to cast a wider net, and hone in on what keywords will be the most successful for your business. A successful keyword if measure by what drives business to the website that the keyword is sending traffic to. The better keywords result in a sale, form filled out, direct contact or a visit to your store.

If you are just getting to  know keywords for your business your best bet is to go ahead and get started testing types of queries in a keyword research tool (such as Google Adwords free tool). Try different using the words in a different order, synonyms, and you can use a competitive research tool to see what your competitors may be using. I tend to build my lists in a spreadsheet so that I can start to organize keywords that I like into columns of similar terms and continue sorting them out until the sit in groups of very tight knit terms.

The only way to get good at selecting keywords through keyword research is to start practicing! Surprise yourself, find out what people are looking for related to your business..

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