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SEO 101: Choosing the Right Key Phrases

What’s the most important part of how you market your online business to new customers? It isn’t ad placement. Or sponsorships. The world of communications has evolved, and customers looking for your products can find you easily—of course, that’s assuming you’ve done the proper legwork.
But what exactly is the proper legwork and how do you do it? Search engine optimization, often known as SEO, of course! According to Wikipedia, “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the ‘natural’ or un-paid (‘organic’ or ‘algorithmic’) search results.” To put it simply, when a potential customer searches a key term related to your business, you want to be the first entry to pop up in the search results. The higher your search ranking, the better chance you’ll have of potential customers visiting your store.

Google’s algorithmic formula for how web pages are indexed is shrouded in secrecy, so SEO isn’t an exact science. Still, there are many best practices to follow if you want to bump your online store up the search rankings ladder to beat out the competition. Today, we’ll focus on four tips for choosing the right key phrases.

01: Generate a list of potential key phrases.
To kick off your SEO efforts, brainstorm on keywords that relate to what you're selling. For instance, if you're a t-shirt provider, "t-shirt" will probably show up in a lot of your phrases. If you can narrow your audience down to people looking for environmentally friendly t-shirts, you’ll want to try something like “green t-shirts.” Finally, you may generate a phrase that includes an action or another descriptor, like "buy green t-shirts online."
02: Find out what the competition is doing.
If you’re entering an established market, generic keywords like “t-shirts” are going to produce a lot of results when you enter the term in the search box. As a young business, you’ll need a year or more to gain any traction for an established keyword. Instead, find out which key phrases you picked have less traction with the competition but still accurately represent phrases that your audience would search to find you. That way, you’ll get to the top of the rankings quickly and increase conversions.
03: Sign up for a keyword tracking service.
There are a few good web services out there that will offer you the ability to measure key phrase popularity. Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery and Google Adwords Keyword Tool are three examples of tracking services that help get your SEO strategy off the ground. The key phrases that register the most popularity are the ones you want to focus on building into your keyword plan.
04: Think like a customer.
Take yourself out of the equation for a minute and become your audience. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in what you want for your business—but what does your customer want out of it? Become an online shopper and throw out search phrases for products you need. Look at your search phrases and apply some of the same concepts to your own list of key phrases.
by Gonzalo Gil Google