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Last updated: 8/31/20

How to Choose Quality Keywords for SEO

Whether you are writing content or developing a general marketing strategy for your brand, choosing—and using—great keywords is vital to your company’s success on Google.

The development of the internet and search engines like Google have made the job of marketers significantly easier and more focused. While you used to have to guess what your target audience was looking for in a product or service or conduct hours of market research using focus groups and case studies, you now have instant access to the world’s largest and smartest marketing database—Google. 

Article Contents

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What Are Keywords?

Keywords and keyphrases are the terms people (including your potential customers) type into search engines to find what they are looking for.

Keywords and keyphrases are the terms people (including your potential customers) type into search engines to find what they are looking for. Discovering what those keywords are for your specific web pages is fundamental to connecting your brand with the people looking for what you offer. Without knowing what your target audience is searching for, you are committing marketing treason!

Keywords are discovered through dedicated keyword research. There are numerous great tools for keyword research that can help you find the right keywords for you to gear your content towards. We’ll include a list of some of those tools below as well as plenty of tips for finding the keywords that will bring more traffic, and ultimately more revenue, to your company!

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Find Your Topic

The first step to finding the right keywords for your website is to determine your topics. 

You know your brand inside and out and you generally know who buys your product or service. 

For example, let’s say you are running a photography business. You can get a good starting point in your keyword research just by thinking about what your clients are interested in. Potential topics might include wedding photography, family portraits, landscapes, etc. If you do all those types of photos, you’ll want to organize the keywords you find into those topic groups. This will help you down the road to stay organized and rank with several different topics, all of which can lead to additional revenue!

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Choosing the Right Keywords

Now that you have your topics chosen, it’s time to start doing keyword research on each of your chosen topics you’d like to rank for.

Tools for Keywords

At Pouch, we use a myriad of tools to help us find you the right keywords to track and use on your website. Some of the best tools to use are SEMrush, Google Search Console, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Trends. We’ll briefly go through how to use each program for your keyword research.

Using Search Console, you can see what your pages are already ranking for. Navigate to “performance”.

Screenshot of performance section of Google Search Console.

Scroll down to “queries” to see the terms your pages are ranking for in Google searches.

In SEMrush, you can paste your URL into the top search bar and get a great report that includes keywords you currently rank for. SEMrush is also great for coming up with new terms using their Keyword Magic Tool. Start by typing in words you know you want to rank for and loads of new related terms will generate, giving you data on each term!

If you don’t want to or can’t pay for SEMrush, Google’s Keyword Planner can operate similarly to the Keyword Magic Tool. To use Keyword Planner, you do need to make an account with Google Ads, but you don’t have to actively be running a campaign to use this tool.

Start by typing in keywords you know you rank for or that you know you want to rank for.

Screenshot of Google’s Keyword Planner. Choosing keywords to start with.

Click “Get Results” and you will see metrics similar to those we mentioned from SEMrush! They should give you a good idea of which keywords are going to be harder to rank for and which you might be easier.

Google Trends is another great tool to use to analyze how timing and location affect searches related to your keyword. It is also helpful in comparing the popularity of two or more keywords against each other.

We also recommend using the “People also ask” box located right on your Google search results page! These are search terms Google thinks are related to your search and nothing will show there that doesn’t at least have some search volume.

People also ask box showing results related to photography locations in utah search

Subcategories

Next, you can divide the keywords you’d like to track into subcategories. “Priority” and “Content” are two we commonly use. It’s important to differentiate between the two because while both will help you rank higher, priority keywords should directly lead to revenue while content raises overall brand awareness and domain authority through link acquisition.

In our photography example, the search “portrait photographer near me” is more of a priority term to target because the person searching is likely looking to make a purchase while someone searching the term “photography tips” is not. You may, however, want to rank for both as both will lead to more traffic on your website, and in turn, you will rank higher than competitors.

Another important distinction to make—especially if you have a physical location—is localization. Localization refers to the fact that Google will give different results to an individual searching for something if they are searching from Orlando, Florida, vs if they are searching from Salt Lake City, Utah. If you have a physical location like a studio, restaurant, or office space, you’ll want to organize key terms by those searched from your area and those that include your area in the search. We suggest tracking both types of searches.

Other subcategories you might organize your keywords by include “branded” terms such as those related to your company name, and “non-branded” terms referring to the types of products/services you offer. Another separation could be by the individual products/services offered by your company. Keyword organization can be divided up the way that makes most sense to you!

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Competition, Volume, and Intent

When considering all of the many keywords you might target, there are three very important factors to keep in mind:

  • Competition
  • Search Volume
  • Intent

Choosing keywords that fit the right level of competition and volume searched will get you into the sweet spot of SEO where you can grow your website and gain revenue!

Competition

The competitiveness of a keyword can be measured in a number of ways. The first is going to be what some SEO tools like SEMrush call “keyword difficulty”. This metric is a value describing how difficult it is to begin ranking for a particular term. Larger values probably mean that larger sites and a greater number of sites have content fitting that keyword.

Another great way to track competitiveness is through Cost Per Click metrics. CPC refers to the average number of dollars spent per click to a site using Google Ads. High CPC doesn’t mean you can’t rank organically for a term, but it can give you an overall idea of how badly companies want to show up in results for that keyword.

Volume

The next key metric to take note of is search volume. Volume shows how many people on average are searching for that keyword in a given month. This is important because while you may want to find a keyword with little competition, if you go too low you’ll find that there is little to no search volume to match. Ranking number one for “glamorous photography of yellow pencils in Salem Utah” will do you no good because no one has ever searched for that. Ever.

Intent

The final factor to include when analyzing your list of keywords is intent. Prioritize keywords that show the intent of the individual is to make a purchase (or in the case of your content keywords, you’ll prioritize keywords that show intent to read your content). While some broad terms like “funny photos” might get tons of search volume each month, it is highly unlikely that someone searching for that term is looking to hire a photographer. The term “Utah graduation photographer” shows intent to make a purchase and is a term you could track and target.

Long-Tail Keywords

Finding the right combination of volume, competitiveness, and intent typically results in what SEOs call “long-tail keywords”. Long-tail refers to the longer, less popular, terms that can be depicted on a bar graph. These can be easier to rank for whereas shorter tail keywords that are searched at a higher rate might be near impossible for a small startup to initially rank for. Longer tail keywords tend to be more specific, where the shorter tail terms are broader.

A bar graph showing the long-tail side representing more specific keywords with lower search volumes. Image Credit: SEMrush.
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How to Use Your Keywords

Now that you have a working list of quality long-tail keywords, you need to know how to use them to make you more revenue!

 In the past, SEO might have you bombard your website with an overwhelming number of the same keywords you are trying to rank for. Even if this brought modest success in the past, it no longer works. In fact, if you create poor content that is over-the-top, keyword-rich, Google will penalize you!

Instead, use your research to custom build quality content on your pages that directly answer questions your potential customers are asking and do it better than anyone else! Ranking higher on Google does require a lot of hard work and patience. Choosing great keywords that are targeted toward your audience makes the work you do more meaningful and productive.

Here at Pouch, we’d love to start helping you find, target, and track the keywords that will bring your business the traffic and revenue you are looking for.

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Author

Josh-resize

Josh Drebot

Marketing Specialist

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