The point of keyword research for SEO is to try and come up with as many search terms as possible, especially high volume ones, which might be related to your business or website. Keyword research is supposed to expand your mind to the possibilities which might not have naturally occurred to you.
This should involve both heavy research into your clients site and products, competitor sites, as well as using keyword tools. One of the first mistakes you can make as an SEO or PPC practitioner is to ignore the actual website itself, and use the keyword tool to generate terms based on only a few select terms that you ‘think’ are relevant. If you are dealing with a retail site, for example, you need to make sure you are aware of all their products and brands before you start on the keyword tools.
Checking out their competitors sites at this stage is also good, use the Google Search-based keyword tool to analyse their website, to see what they are doing differently to your client. (Remember to use your actual eyes on their site too, not just rely on tools).
The next mistake, is that people have their favourite keywords tool, and they will use only that. Maybe a year ago they decided that this was the one for them, and have since not bothered to check any other results. There are two main problems with this mindset. The first is that – hello! this is the internet. This is the new millenium. New tools are cropping up every day, you need to keep your awareness up. Last years technology is unlikely to remain top of the game this year. One good way of keeping on top of new developments – Google news it every once in a while.
Secondly,different tools will give you different results, so at least a brief look is beneficial if it gives you a glimpse into a different mind set.
Even within the one provider, you could do better than use just one tool. For example, with Google, you might also consider Google Sets, which won’t give you hundreds of keywords like their Adwords keyword tool does, but it might give you some you hadn’t thought of.
For example typing the words: rocket, astronaut, space, planet and moon into the Keyword tool and Google sets, you get some answers in the smaller set of results of Google Sets, that didn’t come up in the keyword tool. E.g. physics, Uranus, Telescope – all relevant words I should think, but maybe a bit more ‘out of the box’.
If you use Wordtracker tool (also fed into SEO book keyword tool) and type in “astronaut”, you don’t get words like space, moon, physics or rocket. But you do get lots of useful long sentences like “exploring space with an astronaut patricia murphy”…?
Other things to consider – tools like Quantcast and Google Trends for websites – which aren’t specifically keywords tools, but which can help assist your keyword research.
This has been a very quick brain dump of ideas on how to improve your keyword research – not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination. Since keyword research is one of the first steps in SEO and PPC, and at the same time, one of the most crucial to get right, it deserves a bit more attention than a simple two minutes of guessing and then hitting “Get Keyword Ideas”, don’t you think?