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Working with Financial Documents

SEO Keyword Research Assignment

This is the third and final in a series of research assignments in my Intro to Web Publishing course. The first two ensured students learned about their website, in this case, its industry, core SEO traffic and popularity metrics, as well as a usability test assignment. At this point in the 16-week course, students are getting to know their assigned website very well, so it's a good time to dive deeper into some core SEO elements: keyword research, HTML tags and image optimization.


There were three assignments tied into this learning process, and this was the first of the three:

  1. Website Traffic & Popularity Assignment

  2. UX / Usability Test Assignment

  3. SEO Analysis & Keyword Research Assignment. (this one!)

This assignment is from Spring 2021 when students studied the website, with the assistance of the site's strongest content contributor, Rashone Bryant (aka African Ceasar). 

SEO Keyword Research Assignment

SEO Keyword Research Assignment

Since all good SEO begins with keywords and keyword research, I thought it was important for students to learn the basics of how to conduct that research. 

Over the years I used many keyword research tools, but most of them eventually were locked behind pay walls. Thanks to the kindness of a specific employee at SpyFu, my class was able to use a second-level product, giving them access to information that's good enough for those just getting started.

The assignment covered these topics:

  • Top 5 Keywords

  • Total Keyword List

  • Analysis of Top 3 Keywords, including a Google Trends analysis

  • Justification of Top Keyword Chosen

  • Implementation of Chosen Keyword into HTML, including title tag, meta description tag and image tags

Support Page for this Assignment

This support page included links to all of the free web-based tools we used for this assignment, the most important of which was SpyFu. As we used the SpyFu source over the course of several years, it improved so much every year, it became one of my go-to SEO keyword research tools in my SEO consulting business!

Several links have been removed since they linked to NWMSU data storage. The references remain to maintain structure to the assignment support tools provided. 

Most Valuable Keyword Chart
  • Open  

  • Click the “SEO Research” tab

  • Run a query for using these filters:

    • Keyword Difficulty: Anything under 91

    • Rank: Anything over 12-14

    • SEO Clicks: Over 250

  • Open a new tab for your competitive site, and run a query using almost, but not quite, the same filters:

    •  Keyword Difficulty: Anything under 91

    • Rank: 1-30

    • SEO Clicks: Over 250

  • Build your Excel file as shown in class and in the example below.

    • Follow the process I explained in class for building and sorting your spreadsheet. This video walks through that process so you can watch it at your own pace!

    • As you’re deciding your top 5 choices, you’re looking for a balance of phrases that will drive traffic that are obtainable (not too high a Difficulty Rating, and aligned with “good” site content, such as a “tag” page. You’re also trying to steal traffic from your competing site, so it doesn’t hurt if they rank very high, so look for that, too! As you’re choosing your top 5 phrases, mark each with a “1” in the “Top 5” column so that you can sort by that column.

  • Embed a Top 5 chart into your paper, followed by a chart that shows at least 50 (but not more than about 60-70.)

  • Excel example:


Top 3 Keyphrases Analysis
  • Choose your top 3 phrases from your list of 5 most promising. Know that these 3 may change as you check out the Google Trends for each.

  • Show a screenshot of one phrase at a time, followed by its Google Trend screenshot, followed by a complete analysis. 

  • As you’re deciding your top 3 choices, you’ll be checking into Google Trends data for each. You’re looking for phrases that show upward trends over the past 5 years. If a phrase has a downward trend, don’t include it in your top 3. 

  • As you home in on your top 3 choices, look at your site for SBD web pages that would align with each phrase. Document those pages: Bookmark so you can find them again and indicate in your chart whether or not your site has good content alignment.

  • Ensure your top 3 choices are distinctly different from one another. 

  • Your analysis for each of the 3 top phrases should include the following items. This is the part of your paper where you prove that you understand keyphrase research and how to use it to choose good phrases that will drive traffic, so write in complete thoughts and sentences and include all the important data:

    • the keyphrase,

    • which site is ranking (or both),

    • the current trend for the phrase (Google Trends data),

    • current rank and competition’s rank,

    • rank change,

    • search volume,

    • ranking difficulty,

    • current SEO clicks (and extrapolated potential SEO clicks),

    • and content alignment


Ultimate Keyphrase Choice

All of your research is now probably pointing to one phrase that clearly stands out. That’s your choice! In this portion of your paper, explain why this is the phrase you recommend to begin optimizing your client’s site. Be sure to fully explain which page on your site will be optimized.


HTML Implementation

The concept here is that once you choose the perfect phrase to drive more traffic to a specific page, you have to put that phrase onto that page… you have to implement your research and actually optimize the page. So, on your chosen page, put your phrase into the page title tag and an important image name and ALT tag.

Follow your assignment and class notes for these sections.

Title Tag

  • Find the title tag of your page by:

    • Mousing over tab — the title will appear.

    • Right click on your page (not on top of an image), view page source, then “find” <title>

    • If you use Chrome or Firefox, you can also right-click the page (not on top of an image) and go to the “Inspector”. You’ll have to use the “search” tool — look for it near the bottom of the Inpsect tool, next to “Console” and “What’s New”. Click “Search” then search for <title>. You’ll find some odd listings, but just look for the one that makes sense for your page.

    • If those don’t work, you can try Googling “free title tag finder tool

  • To show what your title looks like in a SERP

    • Use to see what your title and description meta tags will look like in a SERP.

    • It’s okay if you only have a screenshot of how your recommended title will look — you do not have to screenshot the current title in a SERP.

  • To write a good, new title, follow guidelines from class. And… here’s the Moz 7 Title Tag Hacks blog post, and here’s the image title tag hacks from Moz-2.jpg from that post.

Image Tags

  • Choose the most important image of your page.

  • Determine that image’s image name and if it has an ALT attribute by:

    • If you use Chrome or Firefox, you can also right-click the image and go to the “Inspect”. You’ll see the image information highlighted. If you don’t see alt=, then there’s no ALT attribute on that image. 

  • You can also Google “free alt tag checker” to find a tool to help you identify image ALT attributes on a specific page. This one‘s a good one!


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