How To Choose Which SEO Keywords To Focus On

Picking SEO keywords can be overwhelming to know which keywords to start focusing on for your business when you first start getting into the nitty-gritty of SEO strategy. Eventually you would like to rank for all of them (that are relevant to your business), but how do you decide which keywords to use? We are here to help! Let’s break down how to select keywords for your business step-by-step.

FYI, when we are talking about keywords in SEO, what we mean is “search terms.” It is the word or phrase that someone literally types into the search bar to find results. By creating content around these ‘search terms’ or ‘keywords’ you are more likely to be ranked higher in the search results when someone is looking for that.

What SEO Keywords To Choose First?

In general, you want to always be working towards ranking for 3-5 keywords at any given time. As you start to achieve the rankings you want for those keywords, you can start to focus on growing your next batch. This means that ideally you have a prioritized list of keywords that you want to rank for and you can just start working your way through that list. Generally speaking, we like to create our keyword list by completing the following keyword brainstorming activities below. Once we have created (a probably massive) list, we will want to refine and prioritize the keywords so we always know which ones we are working on next.

Keyword Brainstorming Activities

  1. Ask yourself: What would my ideal customer search for in Google to find me? List out all the search term ideas that come to your mind.
  2. List out all of the services you offer or the main product types you carry. Try to only use language that your customer uses if your industry tends to get very jargon-y.
  3. List out frequently asked questions about your business or the things you offer. These questions can become really excellent long-tail keyword opportunities that you can create valuable, educational content for.
  4. Think about who your ideal customer is? What niche do they belong to? Can you target certain keywords based on their careers, demographics, location, etc.?
  5. Think about where you offer your services? Can you use your location as a keyword or as an adjective next to your service? (ie: SEO Agency, or Vancouver SEO Agency)
  6. Use a keyword tool like LSIGraph to find similar search terms based on the keyword ideas you’ve brainstormed up to now.
  7. Use keyword research tools to find similar, related, and even more ideas! The sections right below this go over how to use these tools to add more keywords to your master list.

How To Use Keyword Research Tools To Choose Your Next Keywords To Focus On

Keyword research tools can provide a lot of data on keywords that will allow you to make more powerful, number-driven marketing decisions, but it can also contribute to the overwhelm. How do we systematically approach keyword research data in the tools available to us online? No matter what the tool is, there is an approach you can take to prioritize which keywords to focus on ranking for next.


Free Keyword Research Tools

Paid Keyword Research Tools

  • Ubersuggest
  • SEM Rush
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz (Premium Account)
  • Spyfu

How To Use Keyword Research Tools For Choosing New Keywords and Creating New Content

  1. Filter out all keywords that have a higher competition ranking than you will be able to reasonably compete against at this time. (As your website’s domain authority, technical score, and existing keyword rankings improve you can start to tackle more competitively ranked keywords for new content)
  2. Group similar keywords together from your remaining keywords. You do this so that you can create high-quality content. You don’t want to create different blog posts for every single variation of the same sentence. Instead, you can create one very good article and use the different phrase variations throughout the post.
  3. Sort the remaining keyword groups by the following priorities:
    1. Relevancy to your business first (ie: you see the keyword Vancouver SEO Agency on that list, and you are a Vancouver SEO Agency)
    2. Keywords that have a higher amount of search volume per month (but still are not that competitive). If you focus on ranking higher for keywords that people search more often, you will see bigger increases in your web traffic sooner.
    3. Long-tail keywords (usually in the form of questions) that give you an excellent opportunity to create highly educational tailored content for that search query. This keyword/content combo will lead to more social shares, potential referrals, and backlinks.
    4. By the intent of the keyword. Some search term phrases indicate a potential colder or hotter lead for your business. So focusing on warmer leads first will lead to quicker sales and conversions.

How To Use Keyword Research Tools For Optimizing Existing Content

You can research keywords that you are already ranking for, and if you like the look of them you can look at optimizing your current content on that topic to create an even better blog post or page that might convert more website visitors, or lead to more referrals and backlinks in the future. You can find which keywords you already rank for by using a free tool like Google Search Console or most of the available paid keyword research tools on the market.

How Has Keyword Research Strategy Changed Over The Years?

In the earlier 2000s SEO keyword research was often centered around key terms being stuffed into web pages, footers, meta data and content. Fast forward to the 2020s and this strategy is now to create keywords that are more naturally phrased (and often longer) to be used to create high quality, educational or entertaining content. There has been a fundamental shift from trying to game the system to trying to create an excellent user experience for humans (thank goodness!). Here are some other major shifts in keyword optimization to look out for:

  • More people search on mobile devices and use voice activated search (meaning the way they search things will be more naturally phrased and longer questions or phrases rather than single words)
  • Google shows a lot more feature rich snippets right in the search results. This means that images, numbered lists, Google shopping products, embedded maps, etc. are more likely to show up in search results. Your content centered around certain keywords should be detail and feature rich to rank higher because if your content is engaging and high quality, Google wants more users to see it in the search results
  • You want to use semantically similar (the same search term phrased in slightly different ways) throughout your content because Google continues to improve its language capabilities to show results for these similar phrases