In early 2006 there are almost 1 billion Internet users on planet earth producing close to the same number of daily searches. (Please handle the amount of daily searches with care, there are quite differing numbers around, but whatever the actual number is, it is huge!)
As e-marketers we want to understand what people are looking for when they search the Internet. Keyword research can help anticipate trends. Google Zeitgeist is an entertaining source for aggregated information on Internet searches and all the major search engines release similar data. Keyword search data produces surprises as well as realization as the Internet reveals undisguised preferences as surfers feel unobserved.
Exploring keywords people are searching for we can understand whether we actually have a market and if we do have a market, how difficult it will be to exploit it. The relation between the amounts of searches for certain keywords and the competing pages for this keyword in the indices of major search engines reveals how effective it will be to use these keywords on a website.
It is important that strategic keywords consist of at least two words so visitors to your website coming from the search engines will be targeted. The more words in keyword phrase, the easier it will be to be on the top of the list. Generally speaking, the process of finding the right keywords will be to first find the most general terms representing the web site's business, then break these general terms into more specific ones. Each page of your web site has then to be optimized for the most specific term characterizing this page. Whenever possible, favor product names over other available keywords.
The amount of keywords in your keyword basket determines how many web pages your website must at least have. It is a good idea to have not more than 5 major keywords for each page. When launching a new web site it makes sense to be as specific as possible in the keyword selection, later on more generic and hence more competitive keywords can be selected.
These are the general principles of keyword research and they do work. However, they do not guarantee the success of a web site business. Here are some additional factors:
1. Consider the quality of web sites in a certain industry. There are certain industries that have an overall poor quality of web sites. Quality here refers to all on-site factors (technology, coding standards, content). In those industries it will be easy to be on the top of the list and make money if you can come up with a working revenue model.
2. English is the dominant language on the Internet. Keyword research can and should be conducted in multiple languages to maximize exposure.
3. The general e-readiness of an industry or business area. Business models on the Internet are manifold. In some areas simple lead generation might be the most effective and profitable way to go. Some business areas might just not work.
4. The aim of keyword-rich content is to rank high in major search engines. However, search engines only will be able to "see" these keywords if our website is fully crawlable, e.g. if we use search engine friendly technologies.
5. If a website ranks high in major search engines for relevant keywords, it will draw substantial traffic. Traffic on the Internet is money, but this only holds true, if potential customers are actually converted into paying customers, if traffic is converted into clicks on advertisement and so forth. This opens up the discussion to whole other areas like web site stickiness and usability. A web site has to convert or otherwise it will not be successful.
In a nutshell, keyword research undoubtedly is a very important and also fascinating field of Internet marketing that unravels the magnitude of the Internet. But it is one of various key ingredients. Keyword research can be used as a feasibility study and forecast technique for a new web site venture and boost traffic potential for an existing on, but it is not the only factor enhancing a web site's visibility on the Internet. If also other indispensable on-site and off-site factors are in place, visibility will result in traffic. However, traffic will only result in money if a website has a good conversion rate.