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How to Choose the Perfect Keywords for Your SEO Strategy

Guest blog post by Mike Bird

For any small business owner or marketer new to the search engine optimisation (SEO) game, keywords can be a difficult concept to understand and utilize. You might be asking questions such as: 

  • What do keywords actually do?
  • How do you know which keywords are better than others?
  • What is the best way to use keywords on my website?

Don’t let SEO and keywords scare you. You too can learn how to use keywords and choose the best ones suitable for your company. Here is our complete guide to choosing the perfect keywords for your SEO strategy.

The basics of keywords

Keywords are the foundations of search engines and the building blocks of your website. They are single words or phrases that searchers use to verbalize or identify a topic or problem about which they want more information. When a searcher types those keywords into a search engine, that search engine will pull up websites that are related to the keywords or phrases.

Keywords also help search engines decide what a page is about and how to rank it. Search engines will crawl your website and index it, and keywords will help them better understand your site and rank it accordingly, thus delivering it into the hands of those who might use it best. 

You can use keywords in your website content as well as other content creations, such as emails, guest blogs and social media posts. By choosing a few good keywords and phrases, you can help search engines better index your site and send it to the right searchers. This betters the chances of your site going into the hands of your targeted consumers. 

Paid search advertising services such as Google Adwords also use keywords to send ads to the right searchers. Companies can choose keywords to link their ads to, and then once someone searches for that keyword, the company's ad will be displayed, usually as a small text ad or banner ad. People searching for "homes, Melbourne" might see banner ads for property developers in the Melbourne area. 

Researching keywords

Searching for just the right keyword may seem daunting, but if done correctly, your content will be easier to search for and your website will see more traffic from the right kinds of visitors, the ones actually interested in your company. If you know how to research effectively, you will know which keywords are trending or popular and which ones will get you the best results.

To help you research how well keywords are trending, check out a few of these keyword research tools and resources:

  • Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool: For novice SEO marketers, this is usually the first stop. This planner will suggest keywords and give you an estimate of their search volume. It will also help you estimate the cost of your keyword campaign for each word.
  • Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence: This is Bing's answer to Google Adwords. If you are looking to break into Bing's market, this tool will be invaluable.
  • Wordtracker: This free account will help you judge a keyword's effectiveness. Its easy-to-use format is great for new users as well.

When assessing a keyword, ask yourself:

  • Is this keyword actually relevant to the content on my website?
  • If someone searches with this keyword, will they actually find what they want on my site?
  • Will they feel happy or satisfied with what they find on my site?
  • Will this type of traffic probably lead to a purchase or other financial goals or rewards? 

If you answered yes, then this might be a good keyword for you.

Don't forget to look at the demand and work required for a particular keyword. Look at the current top 10 rankings for keywords. If you see major corporations or publications at the top, then it will be extremely difficult to break into the top 10 if you own a small business.

Long-tail keywords

How great would it be if your bakery website was the top search result for the keyword, "shop"? Your site might appear 500 or even 5,000 times a day for each time someone type in "shop" on Google or Bing. Imagine the traffic! 

Unfortunately, popular keywords such as "shop" make up only about 30 percent of searches done on search engines. The other 70 percent fall into the category known as "long tail." These are the hundreds upon millions of unique searches that might be done a few times on any day. When put together, long-tail keywords make up the vast majority of keywords. 

What many marketers don’t realize is that these long-tail keywords tend to convert better. Usually, these keywords catch buyers right in the middle of the buying process. Rather than just searching for "shop," they are searching for "chocolate éclair." These buyers already know what they want; they just need to find it.

Do not neglect long-tail keywords just because they seem less popular. Test a few out and see what kind of results you get.

Using multiple keywords on one page

To increase your website's chances of being found, you may use multiple keywords on the same page to help boost your ratings. The catch, of course, is that these keywords should be closely related so your website will attract more people searching for similar terms.

You can research keywords through Google Adwords and use the keyword planner tool to help you find related keywords. Type in one narrow keyword to help Google find more relevant keywords. If we return to our previous bakery example, we might use "gourmet chocolate éclair." Remember, the more specific the better.

Now choose a few long-tail keywords or phrases that closely relate to your original keyword. In this example, you might use "gourmet chocolate éclairs Melbourne" or "gourmet éclairs" as closely related keywords. Once you have a few, begin incorporating these key phrases into your website's content and meta tags.

When creating a page title, try to naturally incorporate the elements of your keywords to better your chances of capturing your audience's attention. For this example, you might try: "Gourmet Chocolate Éclairs: The Best in Melbourne."

Add these keywords to your meta tags and then pepper your content with the keywords to make it easier to search. Both of these steps will ensure that your page is SEO friendly. Be sure to include your original keyword in the subhead line, and your page will be ready for action.  

Keyword stuffing

The phrase "too much of a good thing" applies to keywords as well. If you try to cram as many keyword or phrases into your website copy, it will look like spam and drive away consumers as well as search engines. 

Avoid writing your content as such: "George's gourmet Melbourne bakery is located right in the heart of Melbourne and provides delicious chocolate éclairs. Visit our Melbourne bakery today!"

See how the keywords "Melbourne" and "bakery" seem to be stuffed into the sentence as many times as possible? This type of writing sends web pages down in search results so use keywords effectively and intelligently.  

No matter how new to the SEO game you are, you too can use keywords to better your search ability. Test out keywords and phrases to see what works best and you will soon see what will get you the best results.

About the Author

Mike Bird is a co-founder of digital marketing agency, Social Garden. Social Garden specializes in data-driven lead generation & marketing automation to grow companies revenue in the finance, property and education verticals in Australia.

Mike is an influencer in the social media marketing & Facebook advertising space and contributes to Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, Yahoo! Business Advisor and most importantly, the Social Garden blog.