How To Choose The Right Keywords For SEO

How To Choose The Right Keywords For SEO

You’ve done the SEO keyword research for your site and created a fairly substantial list of potential keywords that you could choose to rank for. Now it’s time to choose which keywords you’re going to target on each page of your website.

Each page, whether it’s your homepage, about page, services page or blog category pages, needs to have 2-3 target keywords that you want it to rank for. These have to be different for every page, as you don’t want two pages competing against each other for the same term. So how do you choose which search terms to target?

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Don’t chase the numbers

The important thing to remember is that the secret to effective keyword targeting is selecting the right keywords for your business, not just the most highly-searched ones. For one, the higher the search volume (the number of people searching for that phrase per month), the harder it is to rank highly for that keyword.

If you have a fairly strong position in your industry already, targeting the higher volume search terms can work, but if you’re still establishing yourself both online and in the real world, battling against the bigger names for the top spot positions for highly-searched keywords is going to be tough.

In many cases, it’s more advantageous to target lower search volume keywords as the competition for the top spots on search engine results is lower. However, if you target keywords with extremely low search volumes, you are risking not drawing any or very few searchers to your site.

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Keep it specific

Keywords with the higher search volumes also tend to have less specific search intent – they normally indicate ambiguous or vague searches instead of highly specific, transactional searches which are more likely to turn into conversions.

For example, ‘wedding dresses’ has 368,000 searches per month, but this does not specify the style of wedding dress, the material, whether it’s British made or bespoke design. But by targeting, let’s say ‘vintage wedding dresses’, which has 14,800 monthly searches, you’re more likely to attract users who are looking for the style of wedding dress that you make, and are ready to make a purchase (transactional search intent).

Another important thing to note is you should only target keywords which accurately match the service or product you provide. Otherwise, you are risking attracting visitors to your site whose goals and search intent doesn’t align with the content that your page provides.

You want to attract users who will find your website, services and products helpful and relevant to what they’re looking for, or you’ll just have a high bounce rate. You want to make sure that you’re driving high-quantities of users who are more likely to stay on your site once they arrive on it and thus convert into customers.

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The fat, chunky and long of it

The SEO gurus over at Moz created a very pretty and extremely insightful graph called The Search Demand Curve. This graph separates all keywords into three broad categories. The ‘Fat Head’, where the highly searched terms lie, making up 18.5% of all search terms. The ‘Chunky Middle’, made up of 11.5% of search traffic, and the ‘Long Tail’, the remaining 70% of long-tail keywords.

The ‘Fat Head’ keywords are made up of not only more ambiguous keywords in terms of search intent, but are also much harder to rank for. Instead of aiming for these, go for transactional keywords in the sweet spot – the Chunky middle. These keywords have much more specific search intent than those in the Fat Head, but lower competition, which means that they are easier to rank for.

For instance, ‘wedding dresses’ has more monthly searches than ‘minimalist wedding dresses’, but it also is more competitive, making it harder for you to rank on page 1 for ‘wedding dresses’ than ‘minimalist wedding dresses’. Depending on your industry, you might also find more appropriate transactional keywords in the Long Tail section, but this entirely depends on how niche what you do is.

As well as finding more intentional and specific target keywords, the Long Tail is also where you’ll find your informational keywords. These are the phrases that users type into search engines when they’re looking for information, normally an answer to a question. Informational keywords will let you know what type of content around your service, product or industry users are looking for.

These are normally phrases that start with ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’, for example, ‘what type of wedding dress style suits pear body shapes’. By answering these questions through blog or video content, you can demonstrate the usefulness, relevance and authority of your site to users as you’ll become a resource of information and industry know-how.

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Competitor research

Seeing what your closest competitors are doing is a great way to spot areas you could capitalise on in the search landscape. While you’re doing your keyword research, have a look to see what kinds of keywords your competitors are ranking for organically. This will show you not only search terms that you might not of thought of and would be a good idea to target, but also keywords which they are not currently ranking for and thus could be areas where you can stand out from the crowd.

Going incognito

Once you’ve created a final list of keywords that you want your website to rank for, you should double check that each one has the right search intent behind them. As mentioned above, for the main pages of your website, you’ll want to rank for transactional search terms related to the service or product your business provides.

The best way to do this is to open up an incognito browser window and search for each keyword one by one. The reason you must go incognito is because the results that would be brought up from doing a Google search on a normal window will be influenced by your own search history.

Type in the keyword into Google in an incognito window, and see what types of results come up. Are they transactional or informational? If they are informational, you might need to rethink your final list of keywords to target.

This doesn’t mean that those keywords are no use to you. As mentioned earlier, informational keywords can be used on the informational pages of your website, such as FAQ pages, ‘About’ page or your blog. This way, the content of the page on your website will match the search intent behind the keyword.

Now that you’ve finalised your list of target keywords, it’s time to start using them across your website. To understand how to use keywords across your site effectively, check out my SEO Basics For Beginners blog post for a down-to-earth intro into optimising your website for SEO.

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