How to choose the right keywords for your SEO campaign


With the help of a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, you can optimize your website to rank higher in search engines for relevant user searches. Over time, that means your website will attract more visitors, gain more attention, and generate more sales.

It is a valuable strategy, but not easy for newcomers to understand. Google does not publish the inner workings of its search ranking algorithm or index, so we are forced to find out how it works through our own analysis (for the most part). We’ve learned that over 200 ranking factors affect how you rank, and making sure you’re contextually relevant to your audience while optimizing those factors can be a juggling act.

Fortunately, the picture starts to get easier when you have a clear, general direction for your campaign. Who are you talking to? What do you want to achieve? And how are you going to get there?

One of the most essential elements of this discussion is SEO keywords, but what exactly are these strategic goals and how can you choose them properly?

Why are keywords important?

Let’s start with a basic explanation of what SEO keywords are and why they are important. When you do a Google search, you type in a word or phrase to find relevant results. Google will then search the web for pages that are contextually relevant to your query.

In the early days of Google’s operations, keywords worked in a very simple and straightforward way. For example, if you search for a keyword phrase like “best ice cream”, Google will search for a page on the web that includes the exact phrase “best ice cream” the most number of times. Unfortunately, finding the exact phrase created a variety of problems, including companies copying and pasting the exact phrase over and over again on every page of their website.

Obviously, Google has gotten a lot more sophisticated since then. Today, keyword optimization is not about including repetitive words and phrases in your content as often as possible; Instead, it’s more about setting the context for your content so that Google can properly “understand” it and present it to the right audience types.

For example, if “best ice cream” is one of your top target keywords, you will work to optimize your site (and the pages it contains) for “best ice cream.” With enough time and effort, you could eventually reach rank one for this user query, or at least the first page.

Semantic search and the importance of context

We need to talk about semantic search, because simply including a keyword or phrase on a page is not enough to help you rank for that keyword query. If you are too ambitious, this approach could work against you.

This is because Google employs an approach known as “semantic search” and has done so since the 2013 Hummingbird update. Basically, Google, instead of literally processing a user query, will try to learn and internalize a user’s intent. and then it will search for matching results. that intention.

If we take our “best ice cream” example above, Google will understand that you are probably looking to buy the tastiest ice cream available to you and will give you results that match that intention. Because of this, Google takes synonyms, slang terms, and alternate phrases into account when processing queries and formulating results. If you have a lot of content on the “most delicious dairy desserts,” chances are good that you can still rank for the “best ice cream,” as long as everything else is in place.

Because of this, modern keyword research and keyword optimization should include the evaluation of synonyms, semantically related phrases, and similar keywords.

Choose the best keywords

So what keywords are the best to target?

That depends on what you mean by “best”, as different companies may have other goals in mind. You can search for keywords using any number of tools, including Google’s Keyword Planner tool. You’ll have to do some initial brainstorming on your own, but once you have a collection of terms in mind, you can get some facts about them.

Generally, you will need to consider the following:

  • Relevance. Is this keyword subjectively relevant to your target audience? Does it have something to do with your business? Is it the kind of thing your target customer might be looking for? A keyword can be an attractive target in other ways, but if it’s not relevant, it’s not worth using. Consequently, this should be your top priority.
  • Search volume. You will then need think about search volume. It measures how many people search for this term during a given period of time. In general, the higher the search volume, the more valuable the keyword will be, as that means it will access a more significant flow of potential traffic. However, increasing search volume also introduces another kind of complexity.
  • Competence. Think about the level of competition for each keyword. As search volume increases, so does the competition, making it increasingly difficult to advance in the SERPs. You’ll want to find keywords that have the right balance of search volume and competition.

Use keywords

Of course, choosing keywords is only half the battle. Your choices will be irrelevant unless you use them correctly.

  • Choose primary and secondary keywords. There is no point in choosing 100 keywords and trying to focus on all of them; If you do, you will end up dividing your attention and you will never progress on any of them. It also doesn’t make sense to choose just two keywords and put all your effort into them; if you do, you will lose a lot of potential. Instead, choose a selection of keywords (10-25 is great for people just starting out) and rank them on “primary” and “secondary” keywords. It could even include a selection of tertiary keywords eventually. Rank them in terms of priority for your business and give them proportionate attention accordingly.
  • Consider relevancy at both the domain level and the page level. In the world of SEO, your domain will have its own authority and its own set of keywords. Also, each page on your site will have its own authority and also its own set of keywords. So, consider keywords at both the page level and the domain level when planning your strategy.
  • Dedicate one page per keyword. For the most part, every target keyword on your master list should have a representative page on your site. It’s a good idea to dedicate a meaningful page to each of your important keyword terms.
  • Prioritize natural inclusion. When looking for keyword optimization, many SEO marketers have succumbed to the temptation of “keyword stuffing” or including keywords and phrases themselves, regardless of content quality or experience. of the user. Avoid this at all costs, lest you face a penalty; Instead, your keywords should be included in the most natural way possible, preserving the quality of your content.
  • Consider using local variants. If you are interested in local SEO, be sure to include local keyword variants in your strategy. It’s an easy way to become more relevant to the population of a certain city or area.
  • Insert keywords both in the content of the site and in the links. Keywords are not intended solely for your content on the site. You will also need to take them into account for your external content and link building efforts.
  • Avoid keyword cannibalization. When possible, avoid having multiple pages on the site competing for the same keyword terms. Better to have one high-quality, high-ranking page than multiple pages that never get a chance to build individual momentum.

Your SEO campaign can only benefit from better SEO keyword goals and the strategic sense to use them correctly. Unfortunately, you may need to do several iterations of research before you start building momentum. Still, with a better index of keywords supporting your plays, you are likely to see much better organic traffic and much more relevant visitors.

Image credit: Liza Summer; Pexels; Thanks!

Timothy carter

Revenue Director

Timothy Carter is the chief revenue officer for the Seattle digital marketing agency. SEO.co, DEV.co AND PPC.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, developing and expanding sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive the growth of websites and sales teams. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach, preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee. Follow him on Twitter @TimothyCarter


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