If you own a business, it’s imperative that you make sure your business’s website ranks well on search engine sites, no matter how large or small your company may be. As one of the top two activities today (the other top activity being email), optimizing a site for search engine queries can be very beneficial. Search engine marketing experts list SEO services as the most influential and effective method of lead generation, and 92% of marketers state that content creation is especially important for SEO.

In order to create great content, you need to start with a good foundation based on keyword research. If you’ve already begun working with a search engine optimization service on a content-centric campaign, you’ve probably already heard the phrase “keyword research” thrown around in discussions. But what exactly does it mean? And why is it so important? Let’s take a quick look:

Keyword research is the process of figuring out:

  1. What keywords or key phrases your customers are most often typing into search engines, like Google or Bing, when they search for products or services that are relevant to your business; and
  2. Which of these words and/or phrases would provide the best return on investment when you begin focusing your SEO campaign on ranking for these queries.

Keyword research is an essential first step of content creation because it tells you which keywords you’ll want to incorporate into your written content. If you’re not using relevant keywords in your content, you could be losing many potential customers simply because your website isn’t listed on a search engine results page.

It’s possible to conduct your own keyword research through a free online tool such as the Google AdWords Research tool, but this may prove to be a difficult task if you aren’t familiar with paid search campaigns or with common search engine optimization strategies. Google provides plenty of information about the words and phrases that people are searching for through its site, but in many cases Google can actually provide too much information and data about user searches.

Most businesses choose to work with an SEO company for this reason because trained analysts can better understand which factors affecting keyword searches should be considered for your unique campaign. Additionally, many keyword searches have such a high-volume that small businesses would have to invest a fortune into a search engine optimization campaign in order to compete with bigger businesses. In reality, these big businesses aren’t even direct competitors; small businesses tend to compete with other small businesses for local customers. That’s why finding the perfect balance between high and low search volume is imperative.

So if you were a customer searching for a product or service that your business provides, what word or phrase would you type into Google in order to find it?