Selecting the right keywords for your site is integral to its organic performance in search engines. There are a plethora of keyword research tools and resources out there.

However, if you don’t know how to choose the right keywords, you risk undermining your site’s performance.

This article will delve into how you can select the most relevant keywords for your site.

What are SEO keywords and why is keyword research important?

Keywords, also known as “SEO keywords” and “user search queries”, are the words and phrases users put into search engines.

With thorough keyword research, you can identify what people search for and use this information to create an organic search strategy for your site.

As you can imagine, if you come across words and phrases that ‘don’t show volume, you will know to avoid incorporating them into your strategy.

As well as volume, you should consider how hard it is to rank for keywords, as it can be tough to compete if large brands use them, or if the keyword volume is astronomically high.

It is also important to consider the kind of content you should create, and whether those searching for a word are likely to be your customers.

How to pick the best keywords for your site

Keyword research can be slightly overwhelming and confusing when you see such a huge amount of words within a keyword research tool. However, it is important you take your time and choose the best possible keywords for your site.

Here are some suggestions to aid your keyword research and help you to select the most relevant keywords for your organic search campaign.

Identify your goals

It would help if you began with understanding your goals for your organic search effort. By knowing what you want to achieve as a business, you can begin to create a strategy for your keyword research.

It is important to set out a plan; whether you are aiming to grow your sales, engagement, or another metric by a specific amount.

Once you have determined your goals, you can make this the base of your keyword research and narrow down the selection to only what is most relevant.

Put yourself in the shoes of a user

All modern SEO strategies should focus on answering queries and giving users a quick solution, such as an answer, service, or product.

It is integral to understand your audience’s search intent so that you can cater to their specific needs. There are many kinds of intent, including:

  • Informational intent – a user is trying to find information on a certain topic
  • Commercial intent – a person is researching something before purchasing it
  • Navigational intent – a user is aiming to access a specific website
  • Transactional intent – a person is trying to buy something now

If you have started a new website, you need to think from the user’s perspective and consider what they would search to find your site, and its products or services.

You can do this by researching keywords surrounding your business and its industry or sector.

Additionally, it’s always worth delving into your competitors’ pages to study which keywords they use.

Understand the importance of longtail keywords

When you first start keyword research, it is crucial not just to introduce short and popular terms, as these tend to have high competition levels.

For example, if you are selling t-shirts from a small eCommerce store, you probably ‘wouldn’t want to build a campaign around the term “t-shirts”, as at the time of writing, this has a monthly UK search volume of “14,000” and the results are packed with big-name brands, such as Next, ASOS, Flannels, and John Lewis.

You might, however, find more success with less popular or more longtail keywords. A longtail keyword refers to a keyword or phrase that is not as common as others and focuses on a niche.

Longtail keywords often receive less traffic, but this means it is much easier for you to rank for them. They will often have a higher conversion value, as they tend to focus on specific products and topics.

See what keywords your competition is using

It is crucial to analyse the keywords that your competitors are using and targeting.

If there is a high amount of competition in your focus area, you will struggle to rank on competitive head terms. A “head term” is a popular keyword or phrase that has a high search volume. When it comes to ranking, they are very competitive and will be much harder to target.

Make sure to thoroughly research your competitors, from topics on their pages, to what they rank for in search results, and on social media. This will provide topics to research when searching for which keywords to target.

Pinpoint your topics

Once you’ve completed your keyword research, you will have a huge amount of individual words and phrases.

Some topics will have emerged naturally with your selection, but it is time to pinpoint relevant ones and add them to your content.

It is critical for your most important commercial keywords to create primary pages to form a solid base for your site. Any supporting articles you create can link to these, which, in turn, helps build a strong internal linking structure.

Check the SERPs

As search engine result pages (SERPS) constantly change, you must invest some time into manually researching them.

By searching for some of the top keywords and topics you’ve found in search engines, you can see what type of pages appear, what competitors there are, and where organic listings appear.

If you do this and find that the results are not where you want to be or where your target audience is, you must rethink your choice of keywords.

For example, if you were planning on using commercial keywords, but the SERPs appear to provide informational pages, it is likely that you will struggle to rank for those results.

Common keyword mistakes to avoid

When you’re performing your keyword research, it is important to avoid any big mistakes. Keyword research is a daunting task for many, but it is crucial to your website’s performance.

Here are some of the most common keyword mistakes to avoid.

Not understanding “volume” metrics

Just because terms have high volumes, it does not mean they are the right ones for your keyword selection.

A higher volume is going to be much tougher to target than a phrase with lower volume. You must understand what terms are right for your site and the types of queries users are searching for that are relevant to your site.

Ensure you look at many factors when choosing your keywords, not just the volume.

Cramming your content with keywords

Do not cram your content with keywords as it can affect your rankings and reputation.

Google has explained that filling pages with keywords not only results in a negative user experience, but the practice can harm your ‘site’s rankings.

Search engines aim to connect with their audience and satisfy their search requirements. If content shows signs of not being written for a human audience, the site will be scrutinised as it will not satisfy user needs.

Once you have chosen keywords and phrases, make sure to include them naturally into your website copy.

Not focusing on broader topics

By not focusing on broader topics in your keyword research, you are at risk of producing robotic and unnatural content.

Through altering your content focus areas, you will create useful and informative supporting content using broader topics.

By widening your topics from your initial keyword research, you can create new ideas that will make your content flow better.

Not analysing keyword difficulty levels

Many keyword research tools present a “difficulty level” when showing keywords as an overview of how competitive a topic can be.

However, you ‘shouldn’t always disregard a keyword immediately due to its difficulty level. On some occasions, you may be an expert on a topic, which means you could provide original and superior content to your competitors.

If you have created a new site or you are trying to expand into new markets, it will be a lot harder to rank for difficult keywords as you are not yet established in that area.

Forgetting the search intent

There is no point targeting keywords that do not match what a user is looking for. Although specific keywords may drive traffic to your site, this can be pointless if it doesn’t improve your conversions.

You must match the content you write to what people want. Some keywords can be used for commercial content, whereas others are used for your supporting content.

For example, if ‘you’re a travel site and are selling flights to Amsterdam, “flights to Amsterdam” would be your commercial keyword and “Amsterdam things to do” would be used for your supporting content.

Final thoughts

For any SEO strategy, keyword research should be at the forefront of your search campaign.

Although finding the right keywords for your site can seem like a daunting and never-ending task, it is possible to use them within a comprehensive and intelligent search campaign.

By focusing on your goals, analysing results effectively to create topics and seeing beyond the basic volumes and difficulty levels, you will choose the right keywords for your site to aid its performance.

That said, there are hundreds of ranking factors, including domain factors, page-level factors, site-level factors, user interaction considerations, best practices, brand signals, algorithm updates, and so more.

If you want to know more about keyword research, or other factors that could affect your organic search performance, get in touch today.