Create a Set of Goals
Before you start choosing keywords, you must determine the goals you want them to achieve. Of course, the main goal is to increase traffic to your website, but a more specific plan makes you more likely to succeed. Consider how fast you want to see results, who your audience is, and the type of traffic you want to bring in.
SEO strategy is meant to be a long-term plan and, in most cases, can take weeks or even months to start showing results. If you require faster results, you’ll need to find keywords that don’t have as much competition but still bring in plenty of volume. In terms of audience, consider how focused your product and your desired market is. Flexibility often brings in more traffic, but if you sell a niche product or service, it won’t offer any real benefit. Finally, consider whether you simply want to raise awareness about your brand or bring in new and lasting customers with your keywords.
Head vs. Long-Tail Keywords
Knowing the difference between head keywords and long-tail keywords (and when to use each type) is another significant part of learning how to choose the best SEO keywords. Head keywords are the more common, shorter words or phrases that companies use. For example, if you own a home improvement company, you may use the phrase “residential painting” as a head keyword. Long-tail keywords or longer phrases that come across as conversational. These words and phrases usually do not have as much traffic but also do not have as much competition. A home improvement company might use the phrase “choosing a residential painting company” as an example of a long-tail keyword. If you have a long-term SEO goal, focus on head keywords over long-tail ones. If you want faster results, choose long-tail keywords. However, keep in mind that the best SEO uses a strong combination of both in order to become relevant quickly and remain relevant over time.
The Importance of Meta Keywords in SEO
A key component of choosing keywords is learning how to choose meta keywords for SEO. Most people assume keywords are only the phrases used on the actual pages of a website, but meta keywords, which are a part of a website’s meta tag information that lies within the HTML, are just as important. Meta keywords work behind the scenes to help search engines determine where your company’s website should land on their ranking pages.
Meta keywords do not have as much value as they used to as related to content keywords because of unscrupulous web developers who “stuff” irrelevant words and phrases into the meta information. However, nobody really knows how relevant they still are to the big search engine, Google, so it is still important to use them appropriately. In fact, if you want to rank on other search engines, such as Bing (which you should), they become even more important. This is because many SEO experts feel that Bing still uses meta keywords as a major source of deciding how to rank a website.
You can choose and add your meta keywords and phrases manually or by using software, but either way, it is important to ensure they are relevant. When building your list of words and phrases (you should have about 10 of them), consider using some common misspellings that you wouldn’t otherwise use in your copy, a variety of long-tail keywords, and the search terms that are already bringing potential customers or clients to your website.
Research is a Requirement in SEO
SEO experts don’t just jot down a list of words and add them to content, and you shouldn’t, either. Before you can create strong search engine optimization results, you’ll need to do preliminary research. This means coming up with a root idea, taking advantage of generators that help you create topics and keywords, and then creating a master list of the words and phrases you’ll use.
The root ideas are where you’ll jot down a list of words. Consider which keywords you’d type into a search engine to find your own business and write them down. You don’t need to get too detailed in this planning phase; instead, focus on a few broad terms or key phrases. Next, find the online tools you need to help you generate better words and phrases. There are many tools available, so you can choose the one that works best for you. However, it’s best to find one that not only helps you come up with the ideas but provides statistics on how often people are searching for the words and phrases generated. Finally, create a spreadsheet of all the words and phrases you want to use and sort them to meet your preferences.
One tip that many people don’t think to use when deciding which keywords to use is to talk to people directly. Sure, you know what you’d search for to find your company, but it’s a great idea to get some different perspectives. As you build your list, consider asking your friends and family members which phrases and words they’d use if they were looking for your company’s product or service online. You might even consider asking current customers which phrases they used to find you.
Another idea you might not think about is to check out the pages of your competition directly. By reading through their content, you can see which keywords and phrases they’re using to bring in their own customers or clients. Don’t forget to check their meta information as well. Doing this not only gives you a good idea of which industry keywords work but may also help you find phrases or words that you forgot when creating your own list.
The Relevance of Keywords Research
Some people mistakenly believe that keyword research is no longer relevant when there is a wealth of information at the fingertips. Combine that with the fact that Google and other major search engines regularly change their algorithms to keep people from stuffing keywords and gaming the system, and research may feel insignificant.
It isn’t, though. It’s simply changing. Search engine optimization in 2019 is not the same as search engine optimization was in 2009. While using as many keywords as possible was the norm a decade ago, these days, research is even more important. People are less likely to stay on a website that provides plenty of keywords but no real information.
There are some tips to keep in mind when researching keywords in an increasingly digital age. First, more people than ever are using the voice search functions on their mobile devices to seek out information, which means key phrases in a conversational tone (“where is a good Italian restaurant” over “Italian restaurant,” for example) are more important than they used to be. Additionally, the better optimized your content is, the more likely it is to come up as most relevant on Google and to appear in the Answer Boxes that show at the top of search results. Finally, you now need to consider semantically related keywords. Focus on your single target phrase, but don’t forget to include related phrases that have the same meaning. No matter how you choose to do your research, the important thing is to do it. Without strong knowledge about how to choose the right keyword for SEO, you can’t have strong results.
Narrowing Down the List of Keywords
Choosing keywords is just part of creating excellent search engine optimization results. When learning how to choose the best keywords for SEO, you also need to learn how to narrow down the list. From here, only the strongest survive. Narrowing down the list requires you to focus on four variables: competition, current rankings, relevance, and volume. First, consider how much competition you’ll have for each keyword you want to use. To bring in the most traffic, you’ll need a combination of high-volume keywords (that also have more competition) and low-volume words that don’t have as much traffic to them. If you already have a current ranking with any of the keywords or phrases you chose, focus on those first, as they are more likely to help you build momentum.
Relevance and volume are just as important, though. If a keyword has the right amount of traffic but wouldn’t necessarily be relevant to your brand, product, or service, using it will just be taking away from your results. Avoid using phrases that won’t bring in the right traffic regardless of how high-ranking they seem on paper. Finally, remember to consider the volume. Learning the search volume of your desired SEO phrases helps you choose specific phrases that best meet your company’s needs.
Tools to Help You Define Your Keywords
When you want to define keywords for SEO, using tools will help you stay organized, efficient, and at the top of the search engine rankings. While there are dozens, if not hundreds, of tools available, these types are some of the most common ones:
One of the most popular tools available, a keyword planner allows researchers to evaluate monthly search volume at global and local levels to determine how competitive they are.
Find keywords related to your major search terms using the data provided by analytics tools. Information typically includes how well they’re ranking and how much they’ll cost per click.
If you want to provide answers, you need to know the question first. Websites that allow users to ask questions and let you see which questions people are asking the most so that you can decide how to answer them.
Keyword generation tools allow you to learn which keywords are searched most, which phrases best relate to them, and how much their value is estimated at.
Where to Place Your Keywords
Now that you know how to choose keywords for SEO, you need to know where to put them in your content to make them the most productive. There are nine different places that require keywords and phrases to ensure your website makes it to the top of the search rankings:
Images on a website include “alternate” text tags that search engine bots crawl through to gather information about the page. Fill this information in with relevant keywords to use them to your advantage.
Of course, you need keywords in the content of your website. Create readable, relevant content that has no more than a 6% keyword density to ensure you don’t overdo it.
Choose your keywords before you even choose your domain name. Then, use them to create a domain that uses your primary keyword and helps you climb to the top of the rankings page fast.
Your page’s file names, as well as the names of your images and other files, should include keyword-related names to ensure search engines pick up on them more easily.
Use links and the “name” attribute to add keywords in your links. Focus on both internal and external links to high-ranking pages.
The meta description tag is information that shows up on the search engine results page. It may be a snippet of text from your website or an entirely different blurb you create, but it should be unique for each page on your website.
Your page title is the title listed at the top of your website when visitors navigate to your page. For the best results, use keywords inside of an H1 tag. Never use images as your title.
This is not the same as your page title. The title tag is the information that shows up in bold text on search engine results pages.