Professional Keyword Research & Analysis

Creating a seed list - the first and most important step in SEO

The first and most important step of any search engine optimization (SEO) campaign is keyword research. We can think of a lot of great keyword phrases as possible optimization candidates… but ask yourself, are humans using these phrases in search engines? After all... if no one is searching on a particular phrase, then that phrase certainly won’t bring traffic to your Web site. It’s absolutely imperative that your site is optimized with phrases that people search on. To find these phrase we have to conduct some keyword research, research based upon what we call a "seed list" that you construct and provide to us.

So how do I create a seed list?

We tell our clients to create a list of every phrase they can think of that has to do with their product(s) and/or service(s). This includes their *pet phrases* otherwise known as *dream phrases*. Pet Phrases typically have a low search volume (not too many people searching on it) and is one of the reasons keyword research is so very important. We have to know what phrases people search on!

An attorney might come up with the following list:

personal injury
dog bites
divorce law
child custody

Sometimes, depending on the niche, the above exercise can create enough phrases for you to start with. Sometimes it doesn’t. That’s when you get a bit more aggressive about where you find these phrases:

1) server log files
2) competitor sites
3) thesaurus
4) online bidding tools
5) offline advertising

Let’s go over the list above:

1) Server Log Files - Looking in your server log files is a great way to find extra phrases and ideas. Sometimes when you’re so entrenched into a niche, it’s hard to think outside the box and come up with phrases that the average searcher might type in a search engine.

2) Competitor Sites - Look at what your competitors are doing. Look at their title, the phrases on their page and the phrases in their navigation. This should spark some ideas.

3) Thesaurus - Check with an online thesaurus (or offline thesaurus if you still believe in books!) for other ideas.

For example, “shoe” might yield:

children’s shoes
snow shoes

This is one of the most important tactics in the list (IMO). Sometimes you’ll find that clients are so entrenched in their niche that they don’t think outside of the box.

4) Online Bidding Tools - Even though I don’t use them for gathering my search metrics (bidding history is not the same data as overall search data) they’re great for generating other phrases; just ignore the search numbers and any other numerical data.

5) Offline Advertising - look at trade magazines, pay close attention to commercial and print ads that are related to the product/services you work with.

After you've created your seed list, you’ll then want to make sure you have all permutations of the phrases (lawyer, lawyers, attorney, attorneys - as in the case of our attorney example) and plural versions of your phrases.

Locally, Nationally or Globally

What about location? Are you offering services locally, nationally or globally? Make sure that if you’re seeking local business/traffic only, that you include these geographical areas along with your seed list (note:we send out a focus analysis that allows our clients to include their seed list as well as all the geographical areas they want to target):

Using our attorney example, we might get these areas:

Rio Rancho

In this case, our attorney is telling us they would take a case from any of the areas above. Our list might look something like this now:

Albuquerque personal injury lawyer (lawyers, attorney, attorneys)
Rio Rancho personal injury lawyer (lawyers, attorney, attorneys)
Placitas personal injury lawyer (lawyers, attorney, attorneys)
Corrales personal injury lawyer (lawyers, attorney, attorneys)

The list, it grows!

If you want a site that competes at the national/global level (meaning you ant traffic/clients outside of your local region), you don’t have to worry about geo-targeting.

Once you’ve completed the tasks above you should have a great list of phrases all ready for analysis (competitiveness, search metrics, etc).

(Smart) Keyword Research Tips

1) Do NOT select phrases that contain adjectives.

The Best

2) Make sure your geographical areas are unique.

Cooks County

There are several Cooks counties in the United States. If you find yourself in this position, try to find other geographical areas that could be possible candidates for optimization. If not, you’ll be competing against other geographical areas (although with Google doing localized search, it's possible that results are served up in the correct area).

3) Select phrases with more than two words.

Research has shown that people tend to search on phrases that have more than two words. In fact, people generally search on 3-4 phrases. When you select your keyword phrases make sure they're at least 2 words long, preferably 3 word or more. Typically a shorter phrase will be a subset of a larger phrase - two phrases in one!


Albuquerque Attorney

is a subset of:

Albuquerque Car Accident Attorney

Selecting "Albuquerque Auto Accident Attorney" allows us to optimize your site for:

Albuquerque Auto Accident Attorney
Albuquerque Attorney
Albuquerque Accident Attorney

Three phrases for ONE selection! Score!