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This article is inspired by my experience of seeing so many websites and coming across so many web-based projects that have obviously failed to properly analyse a search engine market and/or examine how people might actually discover a site’s relevance whilst searching.

For years, business people and marketers had to spend large sums of money in order to determine the size of a particular market and the feasibility of a project. Now, with research tools such as Google’s Keyword Tool, businesses, entrepreneurs and web teams can confidently examine the online search engine market quickly and for free – e.g. the number of searches per month, the trends of such searches and the associated competition.

Today, with tools so freely and readily available, the thing that most surprises me is how seemingly savvy businesses can often fail to recognise the importance of this and thus spend large sums of money without performing this fundamental market research.

Designing a website that targets keywords in search engines often requires careful consideration and use of such things as H1 tags in the code, copywriting of a sufficient amount and quality and the internal linking structure, to name but a few.

Realistically, being able to target three or four competitive keywords per page means that targeting further keywords inevitably requires the creation of other pages. In short, it can have a huge impact on the whole sitemap of a website.

Spotting an online market for a project through keywords often means that it is crucial to allocate a sufficient amount of budget to Google Adwords advertising and raising the position of the website in the organic search engine results. Essentially, keyword research can define the whole advertising model of an online project or business.

Keyword research doesn’t just come from within a team. It’s important to find out from your target market the words they would use to find whatever you are offering from your website. In my experience, the most crucial benefit of asking your target market directly is that they often suggest keywords that the team working on the project may not have even considered.

Only when keyword research has been performed can the size of a market be identified, competitors analysed and plans made to try and capture a share of this market. Performing this research at the start of a web project allows you to be aware of this information before dedicating your valuable resources and budget to a project.