Your first step is to figure out what type of soil you have. First, look at your web content, promotional materials, marketing pieces, etc. to find the keywords that you are currently using to describe your service/product/offering. Open up a Word doc or pull out a pad of paper. Write these keywords/phrases down.
Second, log in to your analytics account (ie Google Analytics, Omniture, Statcounter). Run a report on your organic traffic for the last 3 months or so. Look at the top non-brand terms and add the best ones to your list.
Lastly, if your site has a search bar, look at your search log to see what people are typing once they are on your site. This is gold because these terms are exactly what users are looking for ON YOUR SITE! Add these to the list (if they aren’t already there).
This picture is a Troy-Bilt Horse; a 1HP tiller that chews through the toughest soil and leaves behind a path of soil nirvana. Tools like this allow you to prepare more soil with less time. Here’s a list of my favorites:
- Google’s Keyword Tool(s) – Google currently has 3 versions of their keyword tool, but their info is based on the most search data and so I recommend starting with Google.
- SpyFu - They show you the ads, the natural results and give estimates of how much clicks are costing advertisers. This is great for seeing what your competitors are doing.
- Wordstream – Easy to use, great UI and they’ll email you your keyword lists.
- Wordtracker - They don’t have as much search data as Google, but this will help you get insight into searches being done outside of Google.
- Suggester - This is a newer tool, but kicks out some pretty good results. Warning: Their servers are in Texas, so some of their Top Terms are biased.
Proper keyword research will help you create an environment where the seeds of your PPC efforts can grow. So how do we get started planting?
UPDATE: Just yesterday Brad Geddes wrote a great piece on 7 keyword tools. Great supplement!