How do you know if an SEO company is good or a sham? Ask them what their keyword research methodology is. A credible SEO agency will excitedly walk you through the process while a bogus one will probably veer away from the topic by luring you into false promises of amazing ranking results.

Contrary to uninformed assumptions, the keywords used in an SEO campaign are not pulled out randomly from thin air. These keywords are born out of rigorous research and drawn from a scientific interpretation of statistical data.

Every SEO company has its own process of doing its keyword research, but as the client, you need to know the basics to ensure that your SEO partner is not doing hocus-pocus and calling it research. Here is a simple step-by-step guide on how keyword research is done for SEO.

Step 1. Keyword List Generation and Prioritization

The best keyword research is done through a seamless collaboration between an SEO agency and the client – you! Don’t assume that because you’re paying your SEO services provider that you should not have an active role in your SEO campaign. In the first place, you’re the brand champion; you know the Sommerseo business better than anyone else!

Start by using common sense. Together with your SEO partner, list all relevant keywords to your business. If you’re selling credit report, one of your obvious keywords are “credit report” and “credit score.” From this, your partner SEO firmshould be able to expand this list by using tools such as Google Trends, Google Analytics and Google Keyword Tool among others. If the SEO company you are working with is a Google AdWords partner, then they might have access to other data such as historical PPC advertising campaigns.

The keyword list generated from these steps might be very long and it would impractical to target them all. So prioritize and segregate them into tiers – the top tiers are keywords you should target immediately and second tier keywords can come in later.

Step 2. Classify Keywords According to Business Objectives

Another basic step is sorting your keywords according to your business priorities. For example, you might identify keywords that will increase sales, boost brand awareness or repair your reputation. Knowing which objectives need to be prioritized and knowing the keywords under each goal will give your SEO company a crystal clear brief on which direction the SEO campaign should take.

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