The process of uncovering and selecting the appropriate keywords for your site is called keyword research. Very simply, it involves undertaking an often painstaking investigation to discover what and how many terms people search for, how often they do, and which other sites appear for those terms. Keyword research is a strategic exercise that enables you to determine which queries your site is most relevant for and for which you can feasibly expect a return, then optimize your site accordingly.

Get it wrong and you may not even have a chance at the first few search engine results pages (SERPs). Do it right and your potential for top placement soars.

You can probably think of at least 10 to 20 keywords off the top of your head that you think are relevant to your site. However, the way you think about your organization or business may be very different than how customers think or the average person thinks about it.

A used auto sales business might call a product an “auto sale,” but you or I would probably use the term “car sale” when searching online. Maybe we’d search for “car sales” (plural) instead of “car sale” (singular). Similarly, the terms you automatically think of may be too broad or widely applicable to be appropriate for SEO.

Keyword research tools such as Keyword Tool – Google AdWords are essential for seeing what users truly search for, and this particular one is free. There are many other tools, such as Keyword Discovery, Keyword Selection Tool and Wordtracker. All of these are available for short-term rental. But there are also many free tools online.