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What is Keyword Research?

Articles on search engine optimization often talk about keyword research (or keyword analysis). But what exactly is it?

Keyword research is the process of identifying which keywords or keyword phrases people are likely to use on Google and other search engines when searching insurance.

The primary goal of Google and other search engines is to provide the most relevant results to a person's search. For example, if you search "insurance websites," Google is not going to include Starbucks in the results because it's not relevant to the keyword phrase of "insurance websites." Search engines look at the words on the pages of your website, and the closer they are to the search performed, the more likely your website will rank well for that search.

There is no one reason why your website ranks high or low in the results. However, using the right keywords is easy to do, and it definitely can impact where your website shows up in search engine results.

How do you do keyword research?

It's a simple, three-step process.

1. Brainstorm. Either by yourself, with a team member or trusted colleague who knows your agency, brainstorm a list of keywords you think your ideal customer would use when searching insurance online. A tip: the insurance industry includes some competitive keywords. Try searching just "auto insurance," and you'll see how the big guys dominate that first page of results. You might try focusing on geo-specific keywords like "Dallas car insurance" or niche products.

2. Test. After you have finished with your list, use a tool like Google Adwords Keyword Tool to get an idea of how often your keywords are searched. This step is a must because often what we think will be a popular keyword phrase doesn't always bring enough traffic to make optimizing for that phrase worth it. The keyword tool is free to use and will help you find the words and phrases that are most likely to bring traffic to your website. Also, it will offer suggestions on similar keywords and phrases that may perform better or that can serve as alternatives if there is too much competition for a particular keyword or phrase.

3. Rewrite. Now that you have your list of keywords to target, start including them in the content of your website. Some good places to put your keywords: page titles, headers, sub-headers, early (and often) in body content, links to other pages of your website. You want to use your keywords often but not too much. Keyword stuffing, high repetition of keywords, is considered a black hat SEO technique, and your website will be penalized by the search engines for it. A good way to avoid keyword stuffing is to re-read what you wrote or have someone else read it. If the content flows and makes logical sense, you are probably good to go.

Is it working?

Higher rankings don't happen immediately. By consistently updating the content of your website through a weekly content tweak or publishing a weekly blog post that includes your keywords, your website's rankings will improve over time.

To determine if your effort on keywords is working, use your website analytics. What keywords are people using that bring them to your website? Are they using the keywords you're targeting? Also, look at your overall search traffic and the number of leads that come in through your website. If the number of leads is increasing, your efforts are working.


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