You say potato I say solanum tuberosum: search term basics

The evolution of the modern day search engineYou’ve writ­ten an excel­lent post, checked it for gram­mar and spelling errors and now you’re all ready to pub­lish… but STOP… will what you’ve writ­ten get lis­ted on the SERPs (search engine res­ults pages? A recur­ring issue I see, when dis­cuss­ing web­site con­tent, is that people tend to write from their per­spect­ive — not from their audiences!

E.g. if you needed a hip riplace­ment would you search for ‘hip replace­ment’ which pro­duces search res­ults of about 2,420,000 and is clearly aimed at every­day people, or search for ‘innom­in­ate replace­ment which pro­duces search res­ults of about 99,800 clearly aimed at doc­tors or aca­dem­ics…? Hmmmm.…..

Identi­fy­ing the right keywords or search terms that your audi­ence uses takes time, but you should be review­ing them on an on-going basis. You’ll find the pro­cess invalu­able, provides fur­ther under­stand­ing of your mar­ket and is a key part of SEO (search engine optimisation).

So to help you get star­ted, the fol­low­ing six step pro­cess will help you begin to identify what search terms your audi­ence uses:

Keyword six step selection:

  1. Mind-Mapping Keywords
    Have a think about all the poten­tial keywords users would/could use when search­ing for your products or services.

    • Are there unique words or phrases people identify with your brand or market?
    • Remem­ber dif­fer­ent mar­kets may have words with dif­fer­ent spellings (i.e. optim­isa­tion or the Amer­ican spelling optimization.
    • Add these words and phrases to a list in a spreadsheet

    Note: If you need mind map soft­ware you can down­load ‘Free Mind’ for free — Mac and PC versions

  2. Review your com­pet­it­ors
    Think about who your com­pet­it­ors are — either from your know­ledge or by enter­ing a keyword on Google, Yahoo or MSN. Then find their web­sites and add the words they are tar­get­ing to the list. You do this by look­ing at page Titles (which appear right at the top of your browser) and the Meta tags (by view­ing the ‘Page Source’) then add these search terms to your spreadsheet
  3. Find­ing altern­at­ive keywords
    Google has a great tool called AdWords Keyword Tool that’s really easy to use. Either enter one keyword or search term or mul­tiple (one per line), select ‘use syn­onyms’ and enter the CAPTCHA code, then click the big ‘Get Keyword Ideas’. Very quickly you’re presen­ted with a long list of pos­sible keywords
  4. Identi­fy­ing how pop­u­lar each keyword or key phrase is
    The res­ults are then ordered by pop­ular­ity by click­ing ‘Avg Search Volume’ and down­loaded to an excel spreadsheet
  5. Ana­lysis
    Remove any keyword search terms that aren’t rel­ev­ant. TIP: Select­ing a not so pop­u­lar search term may bring valu­able busi­ness for you, espe­cially if it addresses a niche mar­ket ;)
  6. …and finally
    Incor­por­ate these keywords into your site content.But don’t over­use them as Search Engines will think that your spam­ming… But I’ll write a post in the not so dis­tant future to help you on that.

Hope the above helps. But please note that this post is not a decis­ive list — instead it is inten­ded as an intro­duc­tion only. There is so much more that can be/must be done but if you have any ques­tions post them in the com­ments below and I’ll be happy to help out :)


SEO, social con­tent and sig­nals advoc­ate, closet geek (not fully fledge), writer, speaker, & blogger.

Founder of NOD3x ( — Social Net­work Ana­lysis, know­ledge graph ana­lysis application

Lee can be con­tac­ted by email: here


  • robjcameron wrote:

    And there was me think­ing SERPs was the state earn­ings related pen­sion scheme, every­day is a school day.
    Look for­ward to the post on writ­ing your copy to max­im­ise the impact of the learn­ing from this one.

  • LOL, mind you some mind sets need to be pen­sioned off! And this is a head’s up, tomorrow’s post (Fri­day 22nd Jan) will be on using keywords in web­site con­tent effect­ively ;)

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