Consider first what goals you have for the site. Under what search terms would you like to appear? What products or services do you plan to sell on your website? Are you doing business in one geographical area or will you do nationwide or global business? What are some of the different terms people use for your products or services? Brainstorm about the different ways people would search for your product or service in a search engine. If you are optimizing for a customer, ask him what he wants to rank under, but direct him away from key phrases that are extremely broad. Take notes. A brainstorming list for a website that sells pet insurance in Atlanta could look something like this:

  • dog insurance
  • cat insurance
  • animal insurance
  • animal health plans
  • georgia pet plans
  • atlanta cat insurance
  • best dog health plans
  • pet health insurance
  • dog health care insurance
  • cat medical insurance
  • pet care insurance
  • pet insurance quote
  • affordable dog insurance
  • etc…


Add to your list by using the available keyword analysis tools:

  • Overture Keyword Suggestion Tool
  • Wordtracker
  • Google Sandbox
  • 7Search

For examples of live searches visit:

  • Ask Jeeves Keyhole
  • Froogle
  • MetaSpy


Take notes on the following:

1. Go down your list and type in your most promising-looking keywords into Google or Yahoo? If your competition is showing up in the first web pages, you’ll probably want to rank under those keywords too. If your competition isn’t, that is also good to know, because you could capture a new keyword or phrase that they didn’t think about. Think of it like this: if you’re opening up a new McDonald’s you’ll want to know where the Burger Kings are. If there’s a thriving Burger King, chances are its a good spot to be. On the other hand, if there’s a new neighborhood, with no hamburger joint, you’ll definitely want to be the first one.

2. Talk to friends and non-optimizers. Ask them what they would type into a search engine to find the service or product. There is no substitute for asking real people. Some figures estimate that as many as 80% of searches are unique search queries, not the oft-searched-for terms that show up in the the Keyword Tools.

3. Look at your competitors. Consider what they have optimized for.


Use the popularity (demand) numbers provided by Overture and Wordtracker, the keyword notes you have taken so far, and some common sense to break down your brainstorming keyword list into three lists:

List 1. Pay Per Click Section. These words and terms will give you great, targeted traffic, but are too competitive for starters. For example, if you sell books, trying to rank on the first page under the search term “books” with an Overture demand of some 3.5 million would set you against and Sorry, it’s not going to happen. You can’t get it. No way. No how. When you become Amazon or Barnes & Noble, your site is several years old, and you have cultivated a several hundred page site with incredible content, then you can think about going for those spots. In the mean time, consider these more competitive search terms as additions to your Pay Per Click campaign.

List 2. 10-30 Primary Search Engine Optimization Terms. These are targeted search terms that will not pit you against the big guys, but will give you a great conversion rate. That is, people looking for these terms are looking for exactly what you do in one of your niche areas. You’ll want to include some of the search terms with mid and low popularities in the Overture and Wordtracker databases and some highly niche terms. For example you may include terms here like: “houston world war two veteran clubs,” or “white house spoon collectibles.”? It may be true that there are very few people searching for these terms, but if someone does search for that term (and that is what you do) you are sure to make a sale. Obviously, you will want to mix highly niche terms with broader terms that have a mid to high search rate. But again, don’t waste your time going for the really big terms yet.

List 3. Secondary Search Engine Optimization Terms. These are terms that might not be your first priority, but you can begin targeting these when your site grows and gets a little bigger.

We will be using the second list for your initial natural search engine optimization campaign described in the rest of this document.