MacRAE’s Marketing (the company where I spend most of my wage earning hours) consults with companies every day about the best way to spend their on-line marketing dollars. When our client has the patience to wait for organic search to find them (can be 5-8 months away or longer), I always recommend creating a list of primary keywords that will drive web site content production and a list of secondary keywords that content creators should keep in mind when writing a web site page or a blog posting for their site.
Keyword creation refers to compiling a list of individual words and multi-word phrases (2-6 words usually) that will guide the content creation for the site. Of paramount importance in keyword research is balancing the keywords you think people will use in their search, with discovering what people are actually searching. There are many tools to help you in this task. Google AdWords has a keyword creation tool that, once you enter a list of keywords and phrases, will tell you how often those keywords are searched upon and offer other variations of these keywords that you may want to consider in your primary and secondary keyword lists.
The number of primary keywords you want to focus on will be 10-15 on a small or medium-sized business web site because any more than 15 and you’re trying to be found on too many keywords and your overall success will be negatively impacted or your web page count and your marketing budget will have to increase.
Knowing what keyword terms people are searching for is only half the battle. You also need to determine how competitive these keywords are and one way to do this is to manually enter each search term into Google.com (or Google.ca) to see how many pages are currently indexed by Google on the web for this term. This approach is far from an exact science, since you will know now have a sense of the competitiveness of these terms on the World Wide Web and not necessarily the competitiveness for these search terms in your specific target market/geographic area.
In the end, you can distill the keyword list to a very good educated guess and start your work. Your plan should always include a regular review of your keywords to ensure you identify new keyword opportunities and remove ineffective or overly competitive keywords.