How to choose the right Keywords for SEO

Posted by | Posted in SEO | Posted on 03-11-2014

Keywords are the foundation of your SEO efforts, so choose wisely because you’ll be stuck for the rest of your life. Just kidding! But you might as well be, because those keywords will be so deeply embedded in your web pages, meta data, content marketing, link building… everything you do. It would be the biggest pain in the you-know-what if it turned out that you weren’t using the best keywords, after all.

So here’s what most people look for in keywords:

  • Search volume. If a large volume of people are searching for a specific keyword or phrase, then there’s money to be made once you get a good ranking. Right?
  • Search competition. Of course, the value of a keyword with a high search volume may increase or decrease depending on how tough it would be to get a front page placement against everyone else
  • Relevance. Naturally, this should always be the first thing you look for in a search phrase. In fact, keyword research is a lengthy process that begins after you’ve come up with a list of phrases that describe what you offer.

Really, that’s about it. Those are the three magic beans used to tell if a keyword will help, or fail.

However, considering the importance of keywords there should be more emphasis put on how you find them to begin with… and a little less on what the metrics say. This matters more because you want to prioritize the way visitors (your core market) view your brand and website. If you read too much into keywords that don’t fit naturally, it will show.

So start with your competitors!

That’s right… look at competition to find which meta tags and keywords they optimize for. This is quite simply the fastest and easiest way to start your list.

Then add to the list…

If you’re smart, you will look at successful competitors that cater to a different demographic. For example, if you offer HVAC services in Atlanta, GA then you might look at top ranking HVAC service providers all the way over in Dallas, TX.

You’ll still get a feel for what works and incorporate those keywords into your own list, but the next step is to modify those keywords, add anything that’s missing, and make them yours.

Know that how you describe your business might be different from how your customers describe your business.

You can also turn to customers or outsiders for help. Pass the computer over to any average person (who fits your demographic) and ask them to search for (your product or service.) Ask them to do 5 different searches, and pay attention to the phrases they use.

Keyword research is helpful in finding high volume search phrases, and eliminating the phrases that business owners use which aren’t helpful. Of course you still want to keep those owner specific phrases in your web content if it’s natural, but they aren’t going to help potential customers find you!

Finally, be flexible. But not too flexible!

Relevance is everything when it comes to keywords. So you want to be as specific as possible, but not so specific that you won’t reach the largest possible audience. At the same time, you don’t want to be so flexible that you’re marketing to unqualified or uninterested audiences.

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