In part I of Reaching On-Page Optimization Nirvana, I argued how simple keyword stuffing regularly fails to generate positive results when optimizing a web page, and in fact often causes the overall quality of the content to suffer.  Instead of naive keyword research that is focused around query volume, I argued for an approach that takes into account the broader goals of a company’s web-presence and integrates those goals into the website’s overall design.  In this post, I’ll discuss further ways of exploring these ‘lexical neighborhoods’ to deliver the most effective keyword research.

Taking a Stroll Through the Lexical Neighborhood

Only you, the business owner, possess the expertise to identify your core business, but once you have, there a number of techniques that you can use to identify the best keyphrases that reflect your core. The first thing is to consider your ‘lexical neighborhood,’ or core group of terms that describe your industry and what you do in it.

There are a number of ways to explore your lexical neighborhood.  Let’s explore a few:

Social Media

Perhaps the most obvious way to discover how people talk about your business is to get on social media.  After all, social media is where people go to communicate with each other online.  By querying your industry keyphrases on a platform like Twitter, you can quickly find out if people are using your terminology when discussing your industry.  You can also seek out industry thought-leaders and note what language they use when describing what they do.

Internal Site Search

Another avenue worth pursuing when seeking out ideas for keyword research is to take a peek into your site’s internal search.  By checking what your visitors are querying, you can find out what is at the forefront on their minds when they visit your site.  At the very least, you’ll find out what they think your site is about; if they are consistently querying for pages that you don’t offer, or for services that you provide but describe in a different language, then the data supplied internal site search can indeed be a rich vein of optimization opportunities.

Customer Feedback

Along similar lines, customer feedback can be an extremely important avenue for garnering insights into new keyword phrases.  A simple email form or link can suffice to prompt people to give you information for free. Be direct—ask your visitors if they found your site useful, and if not, further ask what they were looking for.  This is a great technique for identifying keywords you don’t want to rank for—keyword phrases that sound as though they describe your business, but really conjure a completely different image in the user’s mind.

Competitor Review

Your competitors can also be an excellent source of information for keyword research.  Taking a few moments to visit a competitor’s site can give you some insight into how aggressively they are pursuing SEO, while also alerting you to new keyword possibilities.  If their website is not heavily optimized and there is not much content, more traditional sales materials such as advertisements and brochures can serve as sources of alternate keywords to describe your business and industry. 

Google Trends, a great tool for keyword research for seoGoogle Trends

It goes without saying that Google is the premier source of web-information today, and they have a number of freely accessible tools that track querying trends over time.  Perhaps the most prominent of these tools is Google Trends, which documents how users in a particular country and region search over time.  Google Insights is another similar tool, but allows users to go much more in depth, allowing for filters on the query type, region, subject category, and seasonality.  Google Insights will also suggest related queries, making the tool especially helpful in keyword research. 

Use Google Insights For Search to deepen your keyword research.

So there you have it, five easy ways to explore you lexical and expand your keyword research.  With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to navigate the perils of keyword research and reach on-page optimization Nirvana!