Before you begin your websites on-page optimization and link building, it is important to first research which keywords and search phrases will attract relevant visitors. To do this, there are a few tools and techniques which will help you make a decision on which keywords to target.
Keyword Research Tools
Probably the most popular keyword research tool on the Internet is the SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool created by Aaron Wall. This tool currently exports data from Wordtracker which periodically compiles a database of over 330 million search terms collected from Dogpile and Metacrawler. From these Wordtracker results, this tool then estimates the daily search volume levels from Google, Yahoo, and MSN for each search term. Typing in a keyword or search phrase will also bring back a variety of related search terms that also generate volume. Previously this tool used results from Overtures keyword suggestion tool which generated volume results from their paid search network. Now that it uses Wordtracker, the volume results for this tool seem a lot more accurate.
Another tool to use is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This again will bring back a variety of related search terms for the keywords you type in and will provide search volumes, this time though in the form of a bar rather than an actual total number. Although this data is taken from Googles paid search results, it is still valuable information as you are gaining knowledge of search volume actually from Google and not third-party estimates. A useful result of this tool is the search volume trends which shows monthly totals throughout the year and allows you to judge seasonality and possible search volume dips and peaks.
Google Trends can be useful if you have previous knowledge of search volumes for a particular search term as it will allow you to compare this term to other searches. Again, results are in the form of graphs rather than actual numbers, but knowing volumes for a particular search term will help you judge the volumes for others. Google Trends also breaks the traffic down into regions which is essential as it will show if a search term is popular at the location you are targeting.
Using PPC Results
If you run Pay Per Click campaign for your website, the this can help quickly find useful search terms to target for SEO. If you do not run a PPC campaign the take a small budget, set one up and test a selection of relative search terms. Although it may not be possible to achieve a first-page ad for competitive search terms without blowing your budget, it can allow you to almost instantly gain and idea of whether other long tail search terms will generate visitors.
It is always worth looking at your competitors websites to see which search terms they are targeting. If your competitors website has been searching engine optimized properly then you only have to look at their HTML title tags to see how they have gone about trying to target keywords.
Keyword research is an essential part of the SEO process. Get it wrong, and you could end up putting a lot of effort into gaining results for search terms that will not generate visitors. Get it right and you may quickly pick up a lot of traffic from uncompetitive search terms that go unnoticed by other competing websites. Using these tools and methods will help you make decisions on which search terms you choose to target and should help you on your way to creating a successful, busy website.