How Do You Choose the Right Keywords?

Optimizing your website content for the right keywords is important to the success of your SEO and content marketing efforts. Here are some tips on how to choose the right keywords that will drive quality leads and customers to your business or website.

First, What Are Keywords?

Keywords are the search terms that people enter into Google, Bing or other search engines to find information on the internet. Selecting the right keywords to target for your SEO efforts is crucial to your online success. In this article we’re going to talk about the different things you should look for when narrowing down the list of keywords you want to target for each page on your site.

How to select keywords

Copyright: bloomua / 123RF Stock Photo

Remember Your Target Audience

One point that often gets overlooked when selecting keywords is your target audience. Depending on what you’re trying to sell, you want to make sure that the keywords you’re trying to rank for are keywords your target customers actually search for. That means that if your target audience is younger, you want to use keywords and content that speaks to them. If they’re older, same thing. Male. Female. Consider all things about your ideal customer when selecting keywords.

Also, avoid industry jargon terms that are typically only familiar to those in the industry. For instance, if the building construction industry uses the term “post frame building,” but your potential customers are searching for the term “pole barn” and the search volume for “pole barn” is greater, which keyword phrase should you optimize for? You guessed it, “pole barn.”

You not only want to select your keywords that way, you want to make sure that the entire piece of content you’re optimizing speaks to that ideal customer you’re hoping to find.

Sometimes it helps to create buyer personas so that you clearly know who your customers are so you can tailor your messages – and selected keywords — to your audience.

Focus On Long-Tail Keywords

Unless your site is already kicking butt in the keyword and ranking war, you want to get ranked for highly searched for yet less competitive long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are keyword phrases that typically have three or more words. (Ideally you want to try to find long-tails with five or more words.) The more targeted you get with your keywords, the better. Look for “buying terms” – phrases that people who are almost ready (or ready) to buy your product or service would use to search.

For instance, if you sell digital cameras, don’t just optimize for the search phrase “How to pick a digital camera” also use very specific keywords that will increase the chances of a sale. Optimize the pages on your website for the makes and models of cameras you sell. Write blog posts that discuss the features of individual cameras, how to select the right camera for your needs, discuss various features and camera options, etc. Optimize these content-rich pages with long-tail keywords. Think of search terms people would use if they’re in the process of buying (or thinking of buying) a product or service you sell.

Two sites that have some great ideas for long-tail keywords that people are searching for are Storybase.com and answerthepublic.com.

When you’re writing with long-tail keywords in mind, don’t use the exact keyword phrase repeatedly (it gets monotonous for the reader and looks spammy to the search engine.) So mix things up a bit by adding synonyms or other words or phrases that get your keyword point across. (Now that Google can semantically understand the correlation and relationship of words on a page, you no longer need to use the exact same keyword phrase over and over in multiple places – in fact, it’s a bad idea to do that.) Ideally you want to use your targeted long-tail keywords in two to three places on your page — maximum. Use other words to reinforce your message behind your long-tail keywords.

Remember the SEO Basics

When you’re targeting keywords, always remember the basics:

  • Title Tag: Having keywords in the title tag of your page is a ranking factor. Try and put the keyword phrase you’re trying to rank for as close to the beginning of the title as you can.
  • Meta Descriptions: Again, move the keywords towards the front of the description and reinforce with synonyms.
  • Headings: H1s (and H2s, H3s, etc.) are “this is important” triggers to the search engines, so be sure to include keywords in your headings on each page.
  • Alt Tags: Don’t forget pictures! Remember to name the image file itself with keywords before you upload the image to your site (i.e. sony-1300-digital-video-camera.png) and then also include an Alt tag with the keywords you want to rank for as well.

how-to-use-keywords-in-photo-image-names keywords-in-image-file-names

  • Schema Markup: Use schema markup on pages where it’s appropriate. (You can find out more about schema by visiting schema.org.)

Write About Trending Topics in Your Niche

Is there something new going on in your industry? Jump on it and write a blog post using trending topic keywords in your blog post. BuzzSumo, Feedly and Scoop.it are great tools to use to find trending topics in your area of expertise. When you find a topic that is of interest to you, look at some of the other sites that are ranking high for that topic and use some of the keywords they’re targeting. Again, strike while the iron is hot – especially when it comes to trends.

Check Your Competition

Know what keywords your competitors are ranking for and figure out a way you can outrank them. You can see what keywords your competitors have in their title tags by using this search phrase: Allintitle: keyword

Understanding what keywords your competitors are ranking for can help you determine if you want to go head-to-head with them or try to rank for keywords that are still popular but that your competitors aren’t currently ranking for.

Getting into this level of detail keyword analysis means it’s probably time to use more than Google AdWords Keyword Planner to help you out. Here are a few SEO tools you can check out.

SEO Keyword Tools

LinkDex

Long Tail Pro

Moz.com Pro Rank Tracker

RankTrackr

RankWatch

SEMrush

SEOProfiler

SEOMator

SERanking

UpCity

Link-Assistant

Selecting Keywords is at the Heart of Your SEO and Ranking Efforts

The reason you have a website is for it to be found by your potential customers. Selecting the right keywords can mean the difference between ranking high on Google or not being found at all.