2011 was an exciting year for those of us involved in digital marketing. Whether you are an SEO person, content marketer, a Web Operative, or web designer, changes throughout the year have completely flipped our way of seeing the web upside down (thanks Panda.) As we all know, keywords and phrases in content and title text are extremely important to SEO. Google is constantly updating their standards, so it is important to stay on top and be ready to adapt in the era of the web presence. Not everyone who works in digital marketing can afford to use enterprise level SEO tools, so I have put together a list of keyword research tricks and tools that I have used in 2011.

  1. Google Adwords Keyword Tool - The keyword tool is extremely useful for testing keywords or phrases that you think match your niche market. It is also great for comparing your competition's keywords used in their website.
  2. Find the Top Sites in Your Niche - See what the other guys are doing out there, even if they are not in your local market. Check out the competition in your city, and then check to see how it compares to the SEO and content marketing used in other, more competitive markets.
  3. Onsite Analytics - Google Analytics is extremely useful for figuring out what works, and what didn't. After a month or two of keyword data, you can go back and review your strategy. Some of your most popular posts can be the ones that were written months or years ago, depending on how much effort you put into your keyword research before and after you have published your content.
  4. Analyze Your Google Results - Once you have a general idea for which keywords you need, you can narrow them down, or work on your long tail keywords by using Google's search results and analyzing them. Start with your general key-phrase, wrap it in quotation marks, and click "Search." This will break down how many people are using that exact term. By going through this, you can work your long tail keywords so that you can rank higher at a faster rate with more specific keywords.
  5. SearchStatus Toolbar - SearchStatus is a great all-in-one tool. One of the best parts about the tool is that if you check your competitors sites for keyword research, you can easily find their keyword density throughout the page. If you can highlight a word, and right click, then you can figure out how your competition weighs the keywords that you think are important.
Do you have any keyword research tips to share from your past year? Leave a comment!