When starting an SEO campaign, there are a lot of important steps to take. One of the most important of these steps is finding the right keywords for your site. Why is this step so important? So many companies focus on keywords that seem to be the obvious choice; for a company selling paper, it may seem like common sense to focus on a keyword like, “paper.” However, if you don’t do your research ahead of time, you can easily wind up just spinning your wheels in an SEO campaign that doesn’t produce results.


The last thing anyone wants is to spend money on a marketing campaign that does little good for their site, which is why keyword research is so essential. Indeed, keyword research is often called the foundation of a successful SEO campaign. If you choose the wrong keywords, you may never be able to get your campaign back on track. So how do you figure out which keywords will work best for your site?



1. Find the Low Hanging Fruit
There’s a popular adage that says that the highest fruit on the tree is the ripest and juiciest. When it comes to your SEO keywords, however, this is not necessarily true. In fact, it is often best to go after the low hanging fruit. Chances are, Google already knows that your site is relevant for certain keywords. You may even be ranking in Google searches for those keywords already. Keywords for which you are already relevant have proved to be much easier to target than keywords for which you have no relevance. By focusing on these keywords, you are much more likely to see significant positive results in your SEO campaign.



2. Demand in the Online Market
What is the point of trying to rank for a keyword like “linen-fiber, water marked, high-quality, stationary paper” if no one ever searches for that keyword? After you’ve identified possible organic keywords for which your site is already ranking, it’s time to identify search volume. This will help you to identify which of your keywords are actually being searched for on a regular basis.


The easiest way to get an idea of the online search volume for your keywords is to take a look at the search volume for your keywords using Google AdWords. This tool shows Pay Per Click search volume for your particular keywords.  While Pay Per Click search volume is not the same as organic search volume, there is usually a strong correlation between the two.  This step will also provide you with several different variations on your keywords, as well as the search volume for those variations.


Once that’s done, start taking a look at the different possible keywords. Try to identify which keywords have the most search volume and are closest to your business objectives. If you can, narrow down the list to 25 of the most accurate keywords.



3. Competition in the Online Market

We’re all familiar with how competitive the online market can be, especially for small or new businesses. How can a local paper company possibly hope to compete for top SERP rankings with big, mega corporations like Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, Walmart, and Amazon when they’re all focusing on the keyword, “paper?” That’s why researching the competitiveness of your keywords is so important when considering if it is going to be a good selection to target.


After reviewing the competitiveness of each of your keywords, start eliminating words that seem beyond your reach. You may also opt to make your keywords more specific for your location. If your paper company is local to the Denver area, then you may want to think about keywords like, “Denver paper company” or “Denver office supplies.” This will help you to avoid competition with national brands or mega-stores. Plus, making your keywords more location-specific will help Google know that you’re targeting a more local audience. Ultimately, this will make you more accessible and relevant to the potential customer base that you’re really trying to reach.


This part can sometimes be a little complicated, so talking to an SEO expert about how to optimize your keywords can certainly be a healthy step in your keyword research as well.



4. Establish a Baseline

The next step is to establish a baseline ranking for each keyword that you plan to focus on. This will help you to track the progress of your SEO campaign for each keyword. Find out where your site is currently ranking for each of your keywords. Make sure that whatever spreadsheet, tool, or document you’re using to keep track of your keywords is updated with each keyword’s current ranking.


5. Analyze the Data
Finally, it’s time to review all of the data that you’ve pulled. The most important metrics to consider are your site’s current ranking in Google for the keyword in question and the exact search volume for that keyword. Use Excel filtering tools to filter the data and show the best ranking keywords at the top.



Following these steps will arm you with the information necessary to make an educated decision regarding which keywords to focus your campaign on. Knowledge is power, and with the right research, you can have the information you need to make sure that your SEO campaign gets kicked off on the right foot.



Colton is the Director of SEO Strategy at Boostability testing and defining the products and processes that make Boostability's customers successful. He has been a part of Boostability for over 7 years. Colton loves hanging out with his family and gaming. He runs a personal blog over at www.coltonjmiller.com where he discusses gaming, life, and SEO.