The 3 Stages of Keyword Planning Explained

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Keyword planning is something that SEO analysts spend a lot of time on. It’s not as simple as picking relevant words and phrases that match a business or industry and plugging them into the site wherever they fit. Like every domain of SEO, keyword planning is based on close analytical assessment and, you guessed it, optimization.

Researching and organizing a keyword list for a client involves three main stages: keyword research, analysis and planning, and execution.

Stage 1: Keyword Research

How do you know what keywords you rank for? Google AdWords, a free software through any Gmail account, comes with a Keyword Tool that generates a list of keywords your page already ranks for. An SEO agent will take note of these and incorporate them into the overall keyword list.

With the Keyword Tool, you can see not only what your site ranks for, but what it should rank for.  That means you can:

  • See the search volume for all keywords in your niche, and add geolocation or language filters to research a particular region.
  • Add performance filters like CPC or the average monthly search volume. This goes for short and long-tail keywords.

Stage 2: Keyword Analysis and Planning

Analysts will perform research on all relevant keywords for your site and whittle down a list of the most important phrases to rank for.

In analyzing the keywords and phrases that your site already (or should try to) rank for, an SEO analyst makes some informed decisions as to which keywords to focus on.

For smaller businesses, usually, the best bet is to harness low-traffic long-tail keywords because the searcher is already interested in something specific.

For example, let’s say you own a boutique shoe store in the GTA. A search like “best leather shoe store Toronto” is a long-tail keyword that hits right in your niche. It may not pull as much traffic as “shoe store Toronto”, but usually the point of SEO is sales, not just traffic, and long-tail keywords will help jump a step in your sales channel.

As the above example illustrates, in the planning stage there are a number of different approaches to take. If the client is solely interested in generating traffic to the homepage, then the analyst will recommend high-traffic keywords that might be harder to rank on the first page for but will bring many new visitors to the homepage.

On the other hand, if the client wants to bring visitors to a specific page, then the page itself must be populated with ranking keywords.

This is where the planning becomes quite intricate and technical. Analysts will go in and update the infrastructure of your site to ensure optimization. Things like meta descriptions, URL tags, and image alt tags need to make reference to the target keywords, as this will be picked up by the Google bots crawling the site and increase affinity for said keyword.

Keyword Planning Is Always in Flux

The above example also shows that the keyword planning process is in continual flux. An analyst is always researching and updating the list as patterns of search queries change. The keyword planner makes it easy to upload and test different variations of a keyword list so that the client and analyst have an immediate and transparent understanding.

Stage 3: Execution

Once the keyword research has been whittled down to a list of 8-10 keywords, it’s time for you to think about integrating them into your site through fresh content.

Fresh content can come in the form of new production descriptions or blog posts – it all depends on your style. The key point is that execution of keywords must be done on a regular basis and be incorporated in a ‘natural’ way to the site.

Will Keyword Planning Make A Big Difference?

Keyword planning is one of the fundamentals of SEO. Without a keyword optimized site it is near impossible for your site to rank in the top three of a Google search in your niche.

For more insights into keyword planning, contact local SEO expert Paul Teitelman.

About the Author

Paul Teitelman - SEO Consultant

Paul is a well-respected Canadian SEO consultant and link-building expert with over 15 years of experience helping hundreds of companies rank for competitive keywords on Google. He is a Toronto-based SEO consultant who is passionate about search engine optimization and link building. Over the years, he has made a reputation for himself as a leader in the industry by consistently delivering phenomenal results to his growing client base.