Keyword research for both SEO & PPC is hard. Not only in trying to dissect the right keywords and layers to target (head keywords, chunky middle keywords, long tail keywords), but also revealing what the competition is up to at the same time. And, it’s important to organize your work, and not just use one tool to do the job.

So, time becomes another factor to deal with.

Clearly, each marketplace is different, but you need both street-smarts (your business strategy and online plans) – as well as tactical understanding. That includes metrics. For PPC (Adwords), you may not want to target with broad matching (phrase & exact often a better strategy), and not start with the display (content) network, for example.

Google is the heartbeat (of user search), and keywords are the lifeblood to success of your website (page) optimization.

How can you optimize for the best keywords?

Nothing moves until something is sold, as they say. In the same way as it relates to sales, searchers can only find what is available on websites via keywords/phrases. Nothing is found online without proper keyword research to content strategy. And that’s often the most challenging part of internet marketing and SEO.

Not trying to be cute here, but I come across this conundrumoften with clients. Almost all webmasters want to optimize their sites for keywords they “think” or “guess” they should use, and I learn that it’s because most don’t have a way to:

  • Find out what they should be using in the first place and what actually works.
  • Discover what keywords to apply, since competitive data doesn’t exist.

OK, how best to find out the “secrets”?

Start by looking at this competitor overview article, and then come back and read the steps below. It should make a pretty complete starter pack of competitive keyword research for both organic and paid advertising, pay per click (which is reflected below).

Steps to keyword domination in your space (EXAMPLE):

Head over to It has more than 130+ million websites and keywords collected.

I typed “web hosting” and got these results:
keycompete results 1

At this point, it’s really just up for the pickin’… Locate your top competitors (top domains are ranked by: A. Coverage [Adwords, Yahoo!, Bing], and B. How high they are ranked).

I selected my favorite hosting company, godaddy, and received further drill-down of keywords at time of writing:
keycompete results 1

Best of all, I can export all the keywords (More than 1,000 of them) to Excel and analyze further. I could add columns of notes and additional research data points (for example, how many times per month they are searched for), etc. The rankings show how they are performing for each keyword.

From a quick five- to 10-minute session, I now have the top keywords Godaddy is using for its paid search campaigns. Pretty neat.

You can try the service for a day at $19, monthly for $39 or yearly (my choice) at $299.

It could mean a big boost to strategic keyword decisions, and competitive edge for PPC keyword bidding and branding opportunities in 2008.

Set up watch lists. Godaddy’s watch lists are really cool. They act as a keyword alert system (think ticker symbol watches for the stock market) by “tracking” rising, falling, new, top and dropped keywords over time. Quite useful, and you don’t have to worry about it: Godaddy takes care of it for you. You also can continue clicking on the keywords, and the system will cross-reference to see who else is “owning” terms in paid search and drill down further. Awesome.

What do you think? What tools are important to support your keyword/business strategy?

(this article resurrected from an earlier post)

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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.