Two of the most challenging aspects of launching a new site is generating relevant content and then letting people know about your wonderful site. Well, the good news is that you can kill two birds with one stone by researching which keywords people are using to search for your kind of Web site. The effective use of keywords on your pages ensures your site will rank higher in Google searches for the topic, and the keywords can help you structure your page with a skeleton that you can hang the meat of your content on.

So what is keyword research? Determining what people are typing into search engines is foundation of what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about. You want your site to be among the top results displayed when your target audience inputs related terms into Google and other search engines.

When you include popular keywords within your pages, the search engine Web crawlers flag your pages as having relevance because they address a topic searchers care about. Web search companies like Google and Yahoo provide their services for free, so the only way to keep people coming back, and thus viewing the ads which provide their only revenue source, they have to make the best guess they can as to which content is most valuable to the users. Keywords is one of the ways they do this.

So how do you find out where to get these keywords? One of the first places to start is a Google tool called AdWords. You can enter a search term related to your site’s topic and see which popular terms relate to your term as well those that are less popular. A table demonstrates how popular the term is in both global and regional settings, and the results even let you know how much competition there is for a particular term in search results.

The next step is try a few variations of your topic and make a list of the most popular terms and their variations. Remember that people may not always look for your topic using the same expression you do. For example, even though your site is about “financial planning”, you want to be available to people who look for “finances”, “personal finance”, “money management”, and even “balancing checkbook”. You also want to account for common misspellings of words to reach an even larger potential audience.

Finally, it’s time to compile a list of the most popular and relevant terms and incorporate these keywords within the content of your site. Great places to put these are the title tag, the meta tag, and of course, in the general body content. It’s also a good practice to use keywords in the anchor tags, because this helps increase the ranking value of your back links from other sites.

This may seem a bit tedious, but keyword research is the number one most essential aspect of Search Engine Optimization. If you play your cards right, or in this case your words, you will find your site shooting up in search engine results and driving traffic to your site.