SEO: 4 Simple Steps for Choosing Effective Keywords

Jonathan Stanis
Posted by Jonathan Stanis on May 18, 2018
Smart SEO Keywords

We all want to attract more traffic to our website, and while there are many ways to accomplish this, one thing you must prioritize are keywords. As a cornerstone of search engine optimization, it's crucial that you use the most effective keywords throughout your site that connect with the right audience for your business. 

This process of keyword research can be tricky, but when done well can have an outstanding impact on your inbound marketing efforts.

Here are 4 simple steps for choosing effective keywords:

1. Examine your website as a prospective customer: This might seem like an obvious step, but one that can be overlooked. When formulating keywords, make sure to carefully choose terms and phrases that closely align with your business, such as common industry lingo or questions your prospects your are asking. The latter is especially important, with more and more internet users using voice-to-text technology on their voice assistances (e.g., HomePod, Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.) and mobile devices, leading to search terminology that's more similar to natural speaking.  Try to think about the ways a prospect would search for your product or service, keeping in mind that industry-related terms and phrases will be mainly what your prospects are searching for. Having those industry-related keywords targeted will help make your content rank for those important keywords.

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2. Understand the long tail keyword: When you start doing your research, it's important you understand that broad, popular keywords are extremely difficult to rank for and should not be a huge priority. Long tail keywords—a combination of three or more words or phrases—however, will perform much better because they reflect how people search today (i.e., “injection molding” vs. “scientific injection molding benefits”). Long tail keywords help you better refine search terms specific to your website and attract relevant traffic with a greater chance for conversion. Don’t be discouraged by lower search volume with long tail keywords as they are much more effective (note the 86% organic CTR below) and often come from more attractive prospects. Also, keep in mind that geographic identifiers are helpful in forming long tail keywords as they only attract searchers who are looking for a product or service in a specific location.

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3. Use Moz Keyword Explorer and Google Search Console: While there are several ways to check the rankings of different keywords, Moz Keyword Explorer and the Google Search Console are two of the most helpful and effective tools you can use for conducting keyword research. If you don't have a Google Webmaster account, registering your site is easy, and can be done right here. Once you're signed in, you can access the keywords section in Google Search Console by going to Acquisition >> Search Console >> Queries. This will show you a list of keywords and phrases from which your site already attracts traffic in search, and while some will be encrypted results, it should give you a good idea of your best performing keywords.

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In addition to seeing the keywords that your site already ranks for, you can use a free 3rd party tool like Moz Keyword Explorer to see the search volumes for different keywords, closely related keyword suggestions, as well as how difficult it is to rank highly for those keywords. Once again, you'll need to create an account in order to use Moz’s tool, but once you’re in, it’s as easy as using your typical search engine. Just type the keywords or phrases you want to target into the search bar, and the tool will provide all the information you need. Make a list of the search terms with the best fit and lowest difficulty to rank, and prioritize those in your content.

4. Look at your current SERP Rank: Once you’ve decided which keywords you will target, it’s important that you investigate your current SERP Rank for those keywords. Moz’s Keyword Explorer can also be used for this, and allows you to use 10 free search queries per month. Looking at the keywords you want to examine, you’ll be able to see which the Top 10 organic results on in search, as well their page authority, domain authority, links to the page, etc. If you’re already ranking for some terms, you’ll have an easier time improving your SERP Rank through quality content creation. If you're looking to improve, focus on creating high-quality content around that keyword and its related topics, as well as earning more links. Using this free online tool will quickly help you identify which keywords you should target first.

Performing keyword research can be very rewarding when done right. The amount of time it takes to be most effective varies and depends largely on the size of your business. For more SEO tips and guidance, download our latest eBook: The SEO Survival Guide.

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Topics: Search Engine Optimization, Content Marketing

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