Many people understand the importance of keyword research for search engine optimisation, but few are aware of the most effective or efficient process. You cannot just grab a bunch of keywords and start optimising. You need to choose your keywords carefully.

The best way to search for keywords is  Google’s free keyword tool – Google Adwords. Not only is it free, but it’s also considered the most reliable tool. The data comes straight from Google itself, so it is probably the most accurate keyword tool you will ever find.

There are two ways to research keywords with the Google keyword tool:

  • Enter a keyword or phrase to find similar phrases
  • Enter a URL to find keywords Google would expect to see on a similar site

Both methods are effective, and its propably a good idea to use both. When you enter a keyword or phrase into the keyword tool, the tool will return up to 100 keywords that are related to that phrase. Some of them may not be exactly what you’re looking for, especially if your original keyword can have more than one meaning. That’s when you turn to the other method.

Let’s say you’re doing keyword research for a site about photography. You would visit Google and enter the word photography into the search box, then make a list of the first 5-10 URLs. You would then put each of those URLs into the keyword tool one at a time, making a list of keywords from each domain. Obviously, if Google has ranked these sites on the first page for the main keyword, those sites are using keywords Google expects to see, right? Now you have a list of keywords you know for certain Google expects to see on a site it would rank well.

You’ll have to whittle the list of keywords down a bit. You won’t want to try optimising for keywords that are extremely competitive in the beginning, because you will have very little chance to rank for those keywords in the beginning. Instead, stick to keywords that have at least 1,000 searches per month and no more than 150,000 results when you search for the keyword in Google. This way, you have a good chance to rank on the first page, and you aren’t wasting time optimising for keywords that you have little chance to rank for or that you won’t get much traffic from.