So, you’ve developed a concept for your website and you’re ready to start creating valuable content. What’s the next step in this journey toward online success? It’s time to build your “master keyword list.” This list will be the foundation for optimizing your web pages to rank high in search engine results, ultimately driving free and targeted traffic to your website.

Simply picking keywords at random and starting to write your web pages won’t cut it. To be successful, you need to carefully select the right words and phrases to target. Here are some important considerations:

The Challenge of Competition

Imagine if there are already 10 billion web pages competing for the same keywords as you. Can a small business owner compete with large corporations that invest millions in their SEO strategies for highly competitive and high-traffic keywords? The simple answer is no.

However, there is a bright side to this challenge. You can still achieve success by investing time in researching and selecting your keyword phrases carefully. The key is to identify “niche” keywords that offer a balance of high traffic and low competition. While this might seem challenging, several tools and techniques available on the internet can assist you in this process.

Step 1: Keyword Brainstorming and Research

Start by brainstorming a wide range of keywords and phrases (typically 2-4 words) related to your website concept. You can think of this as casting a wide net to gather as many potential keywords as possible.

Once you have your list, visit Yahoo-Overture’s keyword suggestion tool. Enter each keyword phrase into the “Get suggestions for:” box and hit the search button. This will provide you with a list of related words and phrases, along with the number of monthly searches for each term on the Yahoo-Overture network.

Copy the keyword phrases that align with your site concept, along with their search data, into a text file or spreadsheet. This file will be your “master keyword list.” It’s important to note that not all suggestions will be relevant to your site concept, so you can skip the unrelated ones.

Repeat this process for all the keyword phrases you initially brainstormed. By the end, you should have a comprehensive “master keyword list” containing hundreds or even thousands of words and phrases.

You can also use Google’s free keyword research tool, although it doesn’t provide search statistics like Yahoo-Overture. Still, it’s a valuable resource to enhance your keyword list. You can access it here.

Step 2: Refine Your Keyword List – Part 1

Now, it’s time to narrow down your list to focus on the most valuable keywords for your website. These are the words you’ll target when optimizing your web pages for search engines.

Perform searches for each keyword phrase from your master keyword list on Google. Google will tell you how many websites it has indexed for each keyword phrase you search for. This number represents the level of competition for those keywords.

Think of these numbers as a measure of supply (websites) and demand (number of searches). Finding the right balance between supply and demand is crucial. You’ll need to use your judgment based on your goals and the amount of traffic you aim to generate. Ideally, you want a mix of high-traffic and niche keyword phrases in your “master keyword list.”

It’s not very useful to rank #1 for a keyword that only receives 5 searches per month. On the other hand, high-traffic keywords are challenging to rank for due to intense competition. Trim your keyword list down to a manageable selection of 50-100 entries to prepare for the next step.

Step 3: Analyze the Competitors’ Backlinks

While the following analysis tasks can be performed with free tools, investing in SEO software or services can significantly speed up the process and make it more efficient.

The goal of this analysis is to identify potential link partners (which will be covered in a later lesson) and further refine your “master keyword list” to focus on the 15-20 keywords you want to rank high for.

Take each of the 50-100 keyphrases from your “master keyword list” and conduct a Google search for each term. We’re only interested in the top 10 results since the ultimate goal is to appear on the first page of search engine results. Falling beyond the first page can result in a significant drop in traffic.

The objective of this analysis is to assess the competition’s level of establishment. To do this, analyze the number of websites linking to their websites.

To find the number of incoming links to a website, perform a search on Yahoo (as Google no longer provides accurate backlink results) using the following format:

  • Go to Yahoo.
  • In the search bar, type, replacing with the competitor’s domain.

This search will provide the number of websites linking to the competitor’s domain. Search engines use this “link popularity” metric to gauge a website’s importance. A site with many incoming links is considered an information hub and is perceived as highly important.

Perform this “linkdomain” search for the top 10 competitors identified for each of the chosen keyword phrases in your “master keyword list.” If you find that the sites in the search results have thousands of backlinks, it indicates that the competition is already well-established.

Create 10 columns in your “master keyword list” to record the number of backlinks for each of the top 10 search results for each keyword phrase. Additionally, include any URLs that offer complementary services (not competitors) to what you’ll be promoting on your website. These URLs will be useful for requesting link exchanges in a future lesson, enhancing your website’s “link popularity.”

Step 4: Refine Your Keyword

Based on your backlink analysis, further refine your “master keyword list” to focus on the 15-20 keywords you believe you can effectively compete for. If you find that certain keywords have numerous well-established information hubs, consider removing them from your list.

Using these tips, you should now have a clearer understanding of the markets in which you can compete effectively and those with too many established players to make it worthwhile. Additionally, you have identified complementary websites that can help enhance your “link popularity” in the future.

By following these steps, you’re well on your way to building a strong foundation for optimizing your website’s content and attracting targeted traffic.