Keyword Research : Where to Start?

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Keyword research is the first thing you do when planning a website. You do it before thinking over the site architecture and creating the content. Keyword research is the what you do to estimate your competition and create a promotion strategy.

Previously, I have talked about the keyword research tools and ways to organize your keyword list. But where to start? How to find the correct core terms that you will then explore and expand? What you can do first:

  1. Make a list of most essential aspects of your business;
  2. Think what your visitors or customers would be most interested to see;
  3. Learn what your competitors use (but don’t copy their strategy – sort out only most essential and useful terms);
  4. Explore your niche essential vocabulary – check out dictionaries and glossaries.

While the first three are more or less clear, number 4 needs further information, I guess. I have a collection of my favorite sources I check regularly to get help with keyword research and content creation. And I am going to share my collection now:

The free dictionary (available with the FireFox search plugin) list a wealth of useful information for any term:

  • your keyword definition(s),
  • set phrases/ idioms (use them to lighten up your writing style),
  • examples of usage,
  • words of the same root (inflected words and derivations),
  • thesaurus,
  • classic literature mentions,
  • keyword phrases,
  • related acronyms.

Wordnet will provide you with the definitions and sample sentences using your key term.

Rhyme Zone will define your term and find:

  • rhymes (can be real fun to play with by the way),
  • synonyms,
  • antonyms. (as the name suggests) will show you the word synonyms and antonyms. The dictionary database is really not bad but they really have to work on usability and disturbing pop-ups the keep popping in.

Cambridge online dictionary will list most essential definitions and keyword phrases.

Meta Glossary finds the word definitions, related words and synonyms (with the FireFox search plugin) shows your core term synonyms and definitions.

Merriam-Webster dictionary lists definitions and derived terms.

Urban Dictionary provides related terms, definitions and examples created by users (FireFox search plugin available).

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • Mark

    Thanks Ann, sometimes marketers need to be reminded about the number one thing before starting off a project.

    And that is doing proper detailed keyword research.

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    Excellent post Ann. When preparing keyword research, I also recommend sitting down with not only the executives in the company, but also sales people or the folks answering the phones.

    The sales or customer service departments have much more contact with customers or “real people” actually looking for products or services, and sometimes those real people use terminology which can be overlooked or not even considered by executives. Furthermore, folks in different geographic regions use different terminology AND a simple industry buzzword dropped on a show like Oprah can transform a search marketing campaign altogether.


  • Jeffrey Smith


    Great ideas and tactics as usual. Seeing beyond the keywords is equally important to gain context, someone shopping for Topic A can also be a candidate for overlapping Topic B, C and D as well as long as they serve the same demographic and psychographic profiles.

    The balance of type in traffic, common sense, marketing and engagement are crucial, however they must all be synchronized and this is the most important step for organic traffic.

    I loved the approach, thanks for sharing with others.

  • CJ

    All are great resources and it’s still amazing how important the old dictionary is:)


  • Raghavan

    Great Post Ann 🙂

  • Dana Lookadoo

    Thanks for expanding our keyword research horizons. Your post is super!

    Wanted to add UGC for understanding the lingo used by the audience, e.g. blog comments, consumer reviews, researching competing products on Amazon, etc. and reading how the audience talks about a product.

    Also, since tags are created by how people think and group bookmarks, these tags can shed some valuable insight.

  • Yossarian

    I have to admit I let down my keyword research by not using dictionaries enough. Though I do find a lot of clients can be quite stuborn about the keywords they want to use

  • Frances Palaschuk

    Excellent resources for keyword planning and research… I will certainly be using the Free Dictionary going forward.

  • Soki Briggs

    I Hope one of these days i’ll stop being lazy about researching keywords for my posts.
    Not proud but i’ve never done it.

    Thanks for the great tips, will start here