How To Find The Right SEO Keywords
What Are SEO Keywords?
Your SEO keywords are the keywords and phrases in your web content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines.
A website that is well optimized for search engines “speaks the same language” as its potential visitor base with keywords for SEO that help connect searchers to your site. Keywords are one of the main elements of SEO.
In other words, you need to know how people are looking for the products, services, or information that you offer, in order to make it easy for them to find you—otherwise, they’ll land on one of the many other pages in the Google results. Implementing keyword SEO will help your site rank above your competitors.
This is why developing a list of keywords is one of the first and most important steps in any search engine optimization initiative. Keywords and SEO are directly connected when it comes to running a winning search marketing campaign.
Because keywords are foundational for all your other SEO efforts, it’s well worth the time and investment to ensure your SEO keywords are highly relevant to your audience and effectively organized for action.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms that people enter into search engines with the goal of using that data for a specific purpose, often for search engine optimization (SEO) or general marketing. Keyword research can uncover queries to target, the popularity of these queries, their ranking difficulty, and more.
Elements of Keyword Research
There are three main elements to pay attention to when conducting keyword research.
1. Content Relevance
Google ranks content for relevance. This is where the concept of search intent comes in. Your content will only rank for a keyword if it meets the searchers' needs. In addition, your content must be the best resource out there for the query. After all, why would Google rank your content higher if it provides less value than other content that exists on the web?
2. Keyword Authority
Google will provide more weight to sources it deems authoritative. That means you must do all you can to become an authoritative source by enriching your site with helpful, informative content and promoting that content to earn social signals and backlinks. If you're not seen as authoritative in the space, or if a keyword's SERPs are loaded with heavy sources you can't compete with (like Forbes or The Mayo Clinic), you have a lower chance of ranking unless your content is exceptional.
3. Search Volume
You may end up ranking on the first page for a specific keyword, but if no one ever searches for it, it will not result in traffic to your site. Kind of like setting up shop in a ghost town.
Volume is measured by MSV (monthly search volume), which means the number of times the keyword is searched per month across all audiences.
Types Of SEO Keywords
Singular keywords (short-tail keywords) might appear to be your ultimate goal as they often have a temptingly high search volume. However, they usually have extremely tough competition.
You may want your boutique clothing store to rank for "clothes," but it's going to be tough to rank above Zara and Uniqlo.
On top of that strong competition, singular keywords can be infuriatingly vague. If someone is searching for a "dog," you don't know if they want a list of dog breeds, information about dog food, a place to buy a dog collar or just a site with cute photos of dogs.
Long-tail keywords usually have more clearly defined intent. For example, "best organic dog food for a puppy," or "inexpensive dog walkers Seattle."
You'll also find that long-tail keywords have less competition, with room for a smaller site to break in and make their mark on the SERPs.
How to Find and Choose Keywords for Your Website
Most beginning search marketers make the same mistakes when it comes to SEO keyword research:
Only doing SEO keyword research once,
Not bothering to update and expand their SEO keyword list, or
Targeting keywords that are too popular, means they’re way too competitive.
Basically, SEO keyword research should be an ongoing and ever-evolving part of your job as a marketer.
Old keywords need to be reevaluated periodically, and high-volume, competitive keywords (or “head” keywords, as opposed to long-tailed keywords) can often be usefully replaced or augmented with longer, more specific phrases designed not to bring in just any visitor but exactly the right visitors. (Who visits your site – particularly if they’re people who are actively looking for your services – is at least as important as how many people visit.)
And you’ve got to diversify.
Here’s a tongue-twister that’s absolutely true: diversity is a keyword in the keyword world.
You’re not going to stand out if you find yourself using all of the same keywords as your competitors. Not only should you try new keyword search tools and keep track of the results, but you should feel free to experiment based on your own research – who else uses your keywords? And how do you make yourself stand out?
By providing great content that truly answers the questions your prospective customers are asking with their keyword searches.
Free SEO Keyword Tools
Google AdWords Keyword Planner
A way to find out what keywords your competitors are using on their websites is to use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
If you haven’t already signed up for a Google AdWords accounts—it’s free to do so and gives you access to the Google AdWords tool suite. Once you’ve signed up for a Google AdWords account then visit https://adwords.google.com/ and click the “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas” link.
This box is typically used to input a word or phrase, but you can enter the URL of a website (your own or a competitor's) and Google will then show you the keyword ideas for that site – based on the keywords it has found.
These keyword “ideas” should give you a very good indication of which keywords your competitors are targeting for their own SEO strategy.
Ahrefs Site Explorer
Ahrefs is a popular SEO tool suite that SEO companies use for keyword research, backlink analysis, and more. Ahrefs can provide a ton of information about your site and your competitor’s websites.
Start by creating a free account or logging in if you’re a subscribed user. There is a seven-day free trial, which should provide plenty of time to extract some deep insights about the keywords your competitors are targeting.
Once logged in, navigate to the Site Explorer tool, then drop in the specific URL you want to investigate and hit enter. In the top bar, you’ll see general information about the site—the number of backlinks to the page, referring domains, and specifically Organic Keywords.
Click the number below the title for Organic Keywords and you’ll be able to tell exactly what terms this page currently ranks for and the monthly search volume for each term.
This information can help you identify which keywords your site (and your competitor’s site) ranks for—allowing you to adjust your strategy accordingly.
Similar to Ahrefs, SEMRush is an SEO tool suite that provides an exceptional amount of SEO-oriented information.
To use this tool, create a login and navigate to the home dashboard. Enter your URL, let the tool work, then scroll down until you see “Top Organic Keywords.”
This will show the top traffic-producing keywords to the URL in question, as well as the difficulty score (how easy is it to rank for this term) and monthly search volume.
If you click the button that says “View all Organic Keywords,” you can easily export all the keywords this webpage currently ranks for—and use this to create new strategies or to find new alternative keywords to target.
Need Help Finding The Right SEO Keywords?
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