A client and I are working on her new website... and we're trying to make sure that she features highly in the search results for her chosen market. It's great to be in as part of the build process, because website optimisation is so much more effective when it is part of the framework of the site.
So, her question is "What search terms are people using to find products like mine?" In short, what keywords should we target?
Whatever stage you are at, keyword research is an essential component of search engine optimisation. Without it, your efforts to rank well in the major search engines may be misdirected to the wrong terms and phrases, resulting in rankings that no one will ever see.
I find the most effective method to research keywords include:
Brainstorming - Thinking of what your customers/potential visitors would be likely to type in to search engines in an attempt to find the information/services your site offers (including alternate spellings, wordings, synonyms, etc).
Talking To Customers - Surveying past or potential customers is a great way to expand your keyword list to include as many terms and phrases as possible. It can also give you a good idea of what's likely to be the biggest traffic drivers and produce the highest conversion rates.
Use information provided by Keyword Research Tools - Several tools online (including Wordtracker, which is one of the ones I use) offer information about the number of times users perform specific searches. Using tools like this can offer concrete data about search trends. However, while it can help you see broad information about search trends, if you're looking to estimate traffic numbers, use programs like Google's Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing to test the number of impressions a particular term/phrase gets.
Search Term Analysis - The next step is to create a matrix or chart that analyses the terms you believe are valuable and compares traffic, relevancy and the likelihood of conversions for each. This will allow you to make the best informed decisions about which terms to target.
Performance Testing and Analytics - After keyword selection and implementation of targeting, analytics programs (like Google Analytics) that measure web traffic, activity and conversions can be used to further refine keyword selection.
Keyword targeting is then an ongoing process, you should continually refine the words you target and add new ones, based on your changing products and services and the conversion rates of particular phrases.
If you're stuck on getting any of this sorted out yourself, perhaps you are too busy, or simply not as sad as me, then talk to me about my search marketing services