This exercise will help you discover potential keywords, while also providing you with more insight on your target audience. As you complete the exercise, use the Keyword Research Sheet to keep track of any keywords that come to mind.

  1. What products and services do you offer?
  2. Write down the products and services you offer. How do you think your customers perceive them? Sometimes we perceive our products and services differently than how our customers perceive them. The goal is to identify keywords they would type into a search engine if they were to search for you.

  3. Who are your customers?
  4. Having a comprehensive understanding of who your customers are is important, and not just for SEO purposes, but for all your marketing efforts. Ask yourself the following questions:

    • What industry are they in?
    • Where do they get their information?
    • How do they prefer to communicate?
    • What are their goals?
    • What are their age ranges?
    • What are their budgets?

  5. What problems do your customers have?
  6. Write down the common problems your customers have and any questions they may ask to solve their problems. Then write down how they can be solved.

  7. Get input from others.
  8. Ask your friends, co-workers, and relatives what they would type into a search engine to find your products or services.

  9. Where are you located?
  10. If you operate in a specific location and your objective is to attract people in that area, geography will play an important part in your SEO strategy. It’s a good idea to include your location in your keywords.

    Example: Fitness Clothing Store in Sacramento

  11. Use Google’s autocomplete suggestions.
  12. One of the best ways to find potential keywords is to use Google’s autocomplete suggestions. These suggestions come from searches performed by people who have searched for terms similar to yours. As shown in Figure 2-1, once “fitness clothing” was typed into the search box, Google suggested:

    • fitness clothing brands
    • fitness clothing manufactures
    • fitness clothing stores

    Also, once you run a Google search, related links will be displayed at the bottom of the search engine results page (SERP); these links will give insight into the type of keywords people are searching for when they go to Google for information.

    Google’s autocomplete suggestions
    Figure 2-1. Google’s autocomplete suggestions

It’s time to get some keyword suggestions from Google. Use the information you gathered from steps 1 through 5 to conduct searches. Also, you should consider optimizing every page on your website that’s visible to search engines. The fact is, search engines can’t interpret your website the way humans can; they rely on you to describe it. The column titled “Page to Optimize” on the Google Keyword Research Sheet identifies the page the keyword belongs to. As shown in figure 2-2, the sheet contains keywords for three pages: 1) home, 2) mens activewear, and 3) womens activewear.

Google’s autocomplete suggestions
Figure 2-2. Keyword Research Sheet

I recommend you focus on optimizing one page at a time but if you come across a potential keyword for another page, be sure to record it on the Google Keyword Research Sheet to refer to later.

Once you are done, the next step is to conduct keyword research using modifiers and filters.