You probably know that the right keywords can lead online searchers to your business, but you may have struggled to identify what keywords are best. Use our quick guide to brainstorm, research and select a list of keywords.

To create a keywords list, you’ll need a pen, paper and access to a free keyword suggestion tool such as Google Keyword Planner. (To use the tool, you’ll need a free Google AdWords account, but you don’t have to buy any ads.)

#1: Create a list of topics that relate to your business

These words are going to be pretty generic. We’ll get more specific for your keywords in a bit. For now, just make a list of topics. Five to 10 should do the trick.

#2 Take the topics list and drill deeper

Now, dig a little more. You want to come up with keywords for each topic. You may include “long tail” keywords which are longer search terms such as “frozen yogurt natural Greek coupon,” “mystery used bookstore Long Island,” or “how do I find a qualified babysitter?”

#3 Check out the competition’s keywords

Take one of your keywords and drop it into a search engine. Who ranks on Page 1 for your keyword? These are your big-time competitors. While it may have taken these competitors years and hundreds of backlinks to get where they are, you can still learn from your research.

Before moving on, look at the search ads displayed along the top and right-hand side of the organic (unpaid) search results. Usually, a lot of search ads means the keyword you’ve entered is highly sought after. That means it’s going to cost a bit (if you decide to bid on the keyword), but it is seen by your competitors as lucrative.

#4 Get free keyword suggestions

Now we’re going to grab some free help. Hop over to the Google Keyword Planner tool.

Type in your product or service (feel free to try out a keyword you’ve chosen), URL and then choose a product category. There are other parameters to select if desired, such as location or keyword filters. Google will return a list of keyword suggestions. You can repeat this process for your competitors. Examine what keywords are targeted for the competition, and look for any you’ve missed.

As the results are returned, it’s a good idea to locate high search volume and low
competition. If that’s not possible, try some long-tail search terms. They will have likely lower volume, but these searchers are often ready to buy.

#5 Edit your keyword list

It’s time to narrow down your list. Aim for 10-15 keywords. You can edit the list using relevancy, search volume and competition. Once you have a final list of keywords, do one more task: check your website for those words. If a visitor enters the keywords in a search engine and your site appears high in the results, will the visitor be pleased when they click over to your site?

Once you know your keywords, put them to work: in website content, online business listing descriptions and possibly, in a pay-per-click campaign or mobile ad buy. Happy search engine marketing!

Olga is a Senior Manager in Sales and Marketing Operations at Connectivity.