Now that you know what keywords are, your next question may be this: "How do I determine the keywords that will make my website appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)?"

Well, there are lots of ways to do that. First, you should start by making a list of what you would search for if you were looking for your own product/service. What would your family and friends search for?

Start broad to get a top-tier list, and then add modifiers (such as color, location, or brand) to grow your list. Using the examples from my last post, our keyword list would include phrases such as these:

• cars for sale
• cars for sale in HoCo
• blue topcarbrand for sale in HoCo
• new blue 2 door Vroom5 in Ho Co

Don't forget to include word variations (lawyer and attorney), common misspellings, and synonyms in your keyword list. Another great tip is to start searching the keywords that you already have on your list and look at the ads, results, and related searches (usually found at the bottom of the page) to see what other applicable phrases come up.

I love coffee - just ask anyone who knows me! So for this example, I typed the phrase coffee beans into the search bar. Just from the first page, I got the following ideas by looking at the ads and results:

• gourmet coffee beans
• coffee beans wholesale
• gourmet whole bean coffee
• green coffee beans
• bulk coffee beans
• coffee roasters
• coffee essentials
• premium coffee
• quality coffee beans
• fresh roasted coffee
• specialty coffee

If your website was about coffee beans, that's a lot of keyword ideas from just one page! Take one of those keywords and search it and keep building your list. But remember, choose keywords that are actually related to the products/services that are on your website. If you don't sell coffee roasters, don't include that phrase on your keyword list.

There are a plethora of useful keyword tools on the web, but let me mention a few of my favorites. Here they are, in no particular order:

Keyword Spy
WordTracker
SpyFu

With these tools, you need a paid subscription to get the full data available. But if you are just starting out, you can get a lot of information for free to get you headed in the right direction. Just type one keyword into the search bar and the tool will return about 10 related keywords. Then you can type a related keyword into the search bar to keep getting more ideas.

I also want to mention Google's Keyword Planner - while a version of this (Keyword Tool) used to be free, it is now only accessible inside an AdWords account. So we will talk about that more when we discuss Pay Per Click (PPC) ads.

Let's assume you've explored all these ideas for discovering keywords and have removed any from your list that don't pertain to your website. Ideally, you've got on your list some general broad keywords (coffee beans) as well as more specific long tail keywords (Jamaica blue mountain coffee beans). Awesome job!

Good keywords are crucial not only for SEO, but also for Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which encompasses both SEO and Pay Per Click (PPC) ads. We'll talk more about analyzing keywords from that perspective later in the series. For now, we are focusing on your website's organic SEO.

Now that we have our website keywords, we'll talk in the next post about working them into your website content.

In the meantime, if you'd like us to give your website an SEO review, or if you need marketing services, please give us a call at 410-312-0081 or fill out the contact form.