Much has been written on the topic of keyword research by other SEOs. I, myself have written extensively on the topic of research and selecting the best keywords for an optimization campaign. Without trying to restate anything that has already been written, (at least by me) let me present a few ideas that can help you identify all of the possible keyword phrases that you could benefit from.
Over the years, our keyword selection process has become quite refined. Looking over the research we’ve done in years past, most is good, but doesn’t live up to the 5-phase keyword research and selection process we use today. The first and most important step in our research process is to identify the site’s major themes. If you’ve read through the previous series of articles linked above you’ll note that our process has evolved slightly even since then. “Theming” used to come later in our research process but we’ve found that by knowing all your relevant keyword themes, you’re better able to find all the most important search phrases earlier without having to do all your keyword research right now, saving room for more research on lesser important themes later.
As you identify your main themes, keep in mind that you are looking for unique two- or three-word combinations, not necessarily actual search phrases. For example a theme of “tahoe wedding” will cover numerous keyword phrases including “lake tahoe wedding,” “unique tahoe wedding,” “tahoe wedding service” etc. Similarly the theme “vow renewal” covers the phrases “wedding vow renewal,” “renew wedding vows,” etc. Usually we’ll combine plural, singular and possibly other stemmed variations into a single theme but sometimes we’ll separate them into separate themes, depending on the circumstance. For example, “vow renewal” and “renew vows” might end up being separate themes, at least initially. It can be determined later whether they need to stay separate.
We begin finding our site themes by pouring through the website itself, scanning title tags, keyword tags, description tags, text, navigation links, products, etc. By doing this thoroughly you’ll be able to identify all of the main site themes which have already been established. Looking through products and product descriptions will produce a gold mine of themes. Keep in mind that we are looking for unique two- or three-word phrases. If you’re looking at motorcycle battery products, for example, you might pull ‘motorcycle battery’ as an obvious main theme, but you’ll also find ‘honda battery’, ‘solar battery’ and ’12v battery’ as themes as well. You will find that these sub-themes will utilize many of the same phrases found when researching ‘motorcycle battery, but they will also will produce a number of unique phrases that don’t necessarily contain the word ‘motorcycle.’ As you research to find phrases for each theme, don’t worry about duplication of keywords. For one, it won’t hurt to use the same keywords in multiple places, in fact it should be natural to do so, and two, you’re far better off duplicating phrases than you are missing any phrase that might potentially bring in solid targeted traffic.
Once you’ve worked through your site looking for your keyword themes, do the same with a competitor’s website. Perhaps they have used a unique word combination you hadn’t thought of. After that it’s time to jump to a few tools to dig up even more themes. I’ve heard good things about Keyword Discovery but as of yet I have not had a chance to try it out. I continue to use (and love) WordTracker, especially their new Keyword Researcher tool which they have been developing. I’ve offered a few suggested improvements so far and a few of them have already been implemented.
Useful in developing my themes, the standard WordTracker research interface has a related keywords search tool. Type anything in here and the results produced are additional phrases that may (or may not) be relevant to your initial query. Pick through those results and document any new themes found that are not already on your list. Google and Yahoo both have tools which will provide similar information allowing you to find such themes. I have also recently begun to use L3xicon.com quite extensively.
Running a keyword search through L3xicon provides results showing related words, definitions and even related web pages. It’s the related words we are most concerned about, and these results come in two sections, both can provide useful information
Running a search for “tahoe wedding” L3xicon produces some results that allow us to find some additional themes that may not have already been added to our list:
wedding chapel, wedding package, wedding planner, wedding ceremony, wedding service, wedding planner/planning
These may have already been discovered when pouring through the site and through competitor’s sites, but perhaps not. Next we’re going to try ‘outdoor wedding’, a phrase that probably came up in our WordTracker search. Here a few more relevant themes pulled from the results:
garden wedding, wedding location
Now let’s click on the ‘garden wedding’ link provided and see the results. Look! Another theme we can use that we hadn’t thought of:
Let’s try going back and searching for ‘wedding location’. From this list of results we are able to pull:
unique wedding, romantic wedding, exotic wedding, destination wedding,
And the searches can continue digging further through the L3xicon results until we have finally found what we believe to be a complete list. After going back through the list and eliminating any themes that may have been erroneously added, we then begin the process of researching each theme (again using all the tools mentioned above) to find all the related and actively searched phrases that utilize the words found in each theme found, starting with the most important themes first. Starting your research at the theme stage allows you to uncover a mountain of information that can later be mined for all kinds of keyword gold.