Finding Good SEO Keywords
Keyword research plays a critical role in any effective online marketing strategy. In this article, we’ll look into keywords to learn about what exactly they are, why they matter so much, and how you can use them to take your business, product, or search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to the next level.
What Is a Keyword?
A keyword is a specific word or phrase that users type into search engines to look for services and products. From an SEO perspective, a keyword is also a word, term, or phrase that is added to online content in order to encourage search engines to rank the content higher in their results pages.
Understanding and mastering keywords is a fundamental part of getting traffic to your website and ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs). In other words, tailoring your website to user queries, which are based on keywords, is the foundation of website and search engine optimization.
If your website doesn’t contain the keywords that most people use when searching for a product or website like yours, you will quickly end up losing traffic to your competitors or those who understand and utilize keywords better. The volume of traffic your website receives largely depends on the popularity of your chosen keywords. Keywords can have a high or low search volume, and including more keywords that have a high search volume on your site, such as keywords that millions of people a day are searching for, will affect how your website ranks in SERPs.
However, it’s important to remember that your conversion rate, the number of users who browse your site and actually become customers instead of just moving on to a different site or topic, is more important than simply getting a lot of traffic to your site.
If you’re driving thousands of people a day to your site but almost none of them are buying anything, something is off with your keyword, SEO, or marketing strategies. This is one reason why you should focus on targeted keywords to get noticed by your target demographic, especially if you have an ongoing pay-per-click (PPC) campaign – after all, using PPC ads means choosing targeted keywords, not generic ones. That way, you will attract actual potential customers who want to buy what you are selling, not just anyone.
If you’re searching for a specific service or product, it’s usually not easy to find it using a vague query or just a few words. To find something specific or niche, you usually need to enter phrases or search terms consisting of more than three words (known as long-tail keywords or keyphrases) into the search engine. These are an important and effective way to help your target audience find your site.
This leads to the question: How, exactly, can you find effective keywords to optimize your site and rank higher in the SERPs?
To do so, you will need to consider several strategies and techniques that we will discuss, summarized as follows:
- Finding keywords that best fit your website’s content
- Checking keyword competition
- Using keyword research tools
How to Find Keywords That Fit Your Website Content
Before moving onto the two strategies that entail choosing which keywords to include in your website content (checking the competition and keyword research tools), it’s important to first understand the different types of keywords, their classifications, and varying functions in order to maximize their utility and effectiveness in bringing customers to your site.
The Function of Short, Medium, and Long-Tail Keywords
Keywords can be classified by the number of words that make them up as follows:
- Short-tail keywords (one to two words)
- Medium-tail keywords (two to three-word keywords)
- Long-tail keywords (more than three words)
Short-tail keywords (also called head keywords or seed keywords) typically have high search volumes and high competition. Since they are vague words, they’re not the best choice to reach your target audience and increase your conversion rate. They might bring traffic, but it won’t be targeted precisely enough to bring true potential customers to your site.
Because of this, the cost of advertising for them can outweigh the benefits versus more specific keywords. However, short-tail keywords are still useful for representing your website content in SERPs and getting closer to finding your primary keywords.
Medium-tail keywords allow you to reach your target audience more effectively, but they still cater to a broad demographic due to their somewhat general nature. For example, the medium-tale keyword “beautiful country music” is more specific than the generic term “music”, but it doesn’t target users looking for music from a specific artist. On the other hand, medium-tale keywords can be useful for creating distinct topics on different pages of your website.
Long-tail keywords are phrases consisting of more than three words (for example, “vintage floral green women’s dress”, or “1989 album by Taylor Swift”, etc.) that relate to more specific products and services, making it easier for your target audience to find your site. Their conversion rate, importantly, is typically higher than that of short keywords, but their search volume is lower because there is less competition. Long-tail keywords can be valuable for organizing your website’s pages in such a way that user queries in a search engine will naturally and intuitively lead them to the right spot.
The Function of Short, Medium, and Long-Tail Keywords
To summarize, long-tail, specific keywords to your industry or niche are typically more effective than vague, general, medium, or short-tail keywords, as they face less competition, have a higher potential for improving your SERP ranking, and lead to more conversions and sales versus people who will just leave your site without buying anything.
Remember that keyword popularity can vary depending on user queries (the information users search for), not just search engine algorithms. Short-tail keywords may not always have high competition, and long-tail keywords may not immediately bring a noticeable boost in conversion rates. That’s why it’s important to adapt and update your keywords according to the most popular searches, especially within:
- Title Tags
- Meta Tags
- Product Descriptions
- PPC advertising (if applicable)
Primary, Secondary, and Supplementary Keywords
One of the fundamental aspects of your marketing strategy is selecting keywords for your website content. The keywords you choose can be categorized as follows:
- Primary Keywords, which represent your website’s main topic or theme.
- Secondary Keywords, which add distinct sub-topics or themes to each page.
- Supplementary Keywords, which add more details to each page
Once you define your target demographic, you need to choose a limited number of keywords that fit the context of your industry and choose one of them as the primary keyword for your website. Since the primary keyword represents your website’s content, it should be included in the title tags of each website page to ensure that it is featured prominently and noticed by Google or other search engines when they analyze your page.
You can also combine your primary keyword with related secondary keywords to create a list of all the possible combinations that come to your mind, creating diversified and specific content across your site that will help users find the right page more easily.
Using Keywords in Your Domain Name
Before taking a look at the use of keywords in your domain name, let’s first clarify what a domain name is.
A domain name is your web address, consisting of your hostname, the Second-Level Domain or SLD, and the Top-Level Domain or TLD, separated by a period. For example, bluemovies.com is a domain name consisting of the SLD “bluemovies” and the TLD “.com”. Your domain name should reflect what you do and your industry, be distinctive, and be easy to type and concise to encourage as many people as possible to visit your site.
Hyphenated words can be used in your domain to increase visibility in SERPs because search engines read hyphens as spaces. However, it can be harder to remember them due to their pronunciation and longer format.
One way to solve this issue and still make hyphenated domains work for you is to select a domain name with hyphenated keywords and also register non-hyphenated domains that redirect traffic to it. This way, search engines will still recognize your keywords while also helping your domain be more memorable and accessible for all users.
Using Keyword Research Tools
Keyword research tools play a critical role in selecting the right keywords based on their relevance, density, volume, seasonality, and other various aspects of keywords. Below is a list of some of the more noteworthy keyword research tools:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Microsoft Advertising Keyword Planner
- Free Keyword Tool
- Google Trends
- Google Suggest
- Keyword Tool/Keyword Tool Pro
- Keyword Discovery
Wordtracker, introduced in 1998 by Mike and Andy Mindel, was among the first keyword research tools introduced and has continued to evolve over the years:
2. Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for discovering the most searched keywords in your industry on Google and identifying appropriate keywords to plan your PPC ad campaigns:
3. Microsoft Advertising Keyword Planner
Microsoft Advertising Keyword Planner helps you find the most relevant keywords for your PPC campaigns on various search engines like Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo!, and Ecosia:
4. Free Keyword Tool
5. Google Trends
Google Trends reveals the latest research trends on Google, providing useful filters for regional and language-based keyword analysis:
6. Google Suggest
Google Suggest automatically generates a list of keywords related to your query as you type it into the Google search box:
The related keywords suggested by this tool can change depending both on the most popular search terms on Google at the time and the default region you choose in Google settings:
7. Keyword Tool
Keyword Tool offers both a free version and a paid version, the Keyword Tool Pro. It’s a useful tool that finds the most relevant keywords from Google, YouTube, Bing, and other search engines using Google Autocomplete:
The free version uses Google Suggest to find keywords:
Semrush is a well-rounded SEO tool that assists in many different aspects of SEO, online content marketing, and PPC advertising campaigns. Semrush allows you to find keywords tailored to your SEO strategy, analyze your website’s traffic, and gain insights into your competition. It offers several keyword tools that can be found on the “Semrush Features” page:
9. Keyword Discovery
Keyword Discovery also offers both paid and free search tools. The free option includes the Free Search Term Suggestion Tool, where you can find the top 100 keywords from over 200 search engines. This is another valuable tool for keyword research:
GoodKeywords offers three keyword tools. The first one, Keyword Strategy Studio, is meant to help enhance your existing keywords and identify new ones that are in line with industry trends. Secondly, the Keyword and Product Idea Generator can help you discover fresh ideas for your products, articles, PPC ads, and various other marketing ideas. Finally, Keyword Pad is a useful tool to organize and manage your long-tail keywords, allowing you to optimize their utility and performance.
If you want to take a deeper look at keyword research and how to use these tools, feel free to check out the Ultimate Guide for SEO Keyword Research.
Keyword competition is intrinsically related to keyword difficulty, which measures the challenge of ranking keywords in the top position of SERPs. The keyword difficulty score helps you understand how hard or easy it is to compete with other websites that are also trying to rank for the same keyword.
A higher difficulty means it will be more challenging and require more time, money, or effort to rank well for that keyword, while a lower difficulty suggests that it’s easier to achieve a high SERP position for that keyword.
The level of difficulty or competition you will face when trying to rank for various keywords depends on several factors, such as:
- Search engine algorithms
- The effectiveness of your SEO strategies
- User behavior and the tendency to only utilize the first few pages of results
- Which search engine is being used
- Regional variations in keyword popularity
One strategy to identify effective keywords for your business is to study your competitor’s approaches. To do so, you can use the keyword research tools listed above or visit your competitor’s sites and examine their HTML code using the “Page Source” option. These approaches become even more useful when combined with other techniques, such as:
- KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index)
- Keyword Proximity
- Keyword Prominence
- Google Search Operators
Let’s take a closer look at each of these important SEO techniques and ideas.
KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index)
This index calculates the value of a keyword’s efficiency by considering its popularity (the number of user searches over a given period) and the level of competition (the number of competitors for that specific keyword.)
To find the KEI of a given keyword, use the following formula: KEI = (P^2/C) x 100, in which P stands for “popularity” and C stands for “competition”.
As an example, you can calculate the KEI of the keyword “music” by considering the searches of the last month (numerator) and the competitors (denominator) as follows:
- KEI Calculation for “music”: KEI = (3,600^2 / 8,930,000,000) x 100
- KEI = 6.89
We find that the keyword “music” has a KEI value of 6.89, which is considered relatively low due to its combination of high search volume and medium competition.
- KEI Calculation for “country music”: KEI = (1225^2 / 57,200,000) x 100
- KEI = 38.11
On the other hand, the keyword “country music” has a significantly higher KEI value of 38.11. This higher score means that “country music” is a more effective keyword choice for SEO, as it combines good search volume with lower competition.
It’s fairly intuitive to understand that “country music” has a higher KEI value than the keyword “music” because it has a good search volume and lower competition while being more specific. To get an even better KEI score, tailor your keywords to be as precise as possible, for example, if you sell country music apparel, try keywords like “country music T-shirt” or “country music cowboy hat”.
In short, the higher the KEI value, the higher your chance of ranking first on SERPs will be.
You can calculate KEI yourself or find it already integrated into some keyword research tools, such as Keyword Discovery or Wordtracker. For example, Wordtracker has integrated KEI calculations into its keyword research tool to help you select potential keywords using your competitor’s content and other methods.
2. Keyword Proximity
Keyword Proximity has to do with the proximity or arrangement between two or more keywords within a search term as they appear in a web page’s textual elements, such as HTML paragraphs, sentences, and heading tags.
The goal is to ensure that these keywords align in the same order as the most commonly searched terms. In other words, the more closely aligned the keyword proximity is on your site to the way they are aligned in most commonly searched queries, the greater chance you will have of getting your site noticed on search engines and ranking higher on SERPs.
3. Keyword Prominence
Keyword prominence hinges on the positioning of a keyword within the HTML structure of a website. Generally, keywords located near the beginning of HTML elements, such as the title tag, heading tags, paragraph tags, meta description tags, and URLs, are noticed more easily by search engines and hold greater prominence.
For example, a keyword placed at the beginning of the title tag is more prominent than those placed at the end. If you put this keyword at the beginning of the H1 tag, it becomes even more prominent.
However, there are certain instances where the keywords placed at the end may be more prominent than those placed at the beginning – here’s an interesting article about it.
4. Google Search Operators
Google search operators are specialized queries that refine the search results to include only those containing your specified search query.
For example, the Google operator “inurl:” restricts search results to those containing your search term in the URLs. If you type “inurl:music” into the Google search box, Google will only return pages in which the URLs contain the keyword “music”.
Some Google search operators are particularly useful when doing research on your competition and analyzing the sites you are competing with on SERPs. Below is a list of some of the most important ones:
- Related: This operator helps you identify your competitors by finding websites related to the URL you input after the operator. For example, if you put “related:ebay.com” into the Google search box, Google will locate websites related to “ebay.com” (such as “amazon.com,” and more).
- Allinurl: This operator functions similarly to “inurl:”, but it considers all words after the operator for the search. For example, using “allinurl:shop health” will refine your search to pages containing both “shop” and “health” within their URLs.
- Intitle: This operator narrows down results to pages containing the query term in their titles. For example, using “intitle:health” ensures that your results feature pages with “health” in their titles.
- Allintitle: Similar to “intitle:”, this operator considers all the words following it for the search. For example, using “allintitle:health shop” narrows your results to pages with both “health” and “shop” in their titles.
- Allintext: When you use this operator, Google restricts results to pages containing all the words from your query within their textual content. For example, using “allintext:google advanced search operators” filters results to pages containing all these words in their text.
After using these search operators to find competing sites to yours, you can take a look at their ranking positions on the SERP and analyze their use of meta keywords, meta titles, and meta descriptions. Once you’ve done so, try to make your website just as good or better.
Remember, when it comes to SEO, you don’t have to be perfect – you just have to be better than your competition!
Keyword density is related to the ability to create compelling content on a website while also maintaining a certain number of keyword repetitions. It is measured as the percentage of repeated keywords relative to the total number of words within the page content. It can be helpful to consider the following factors:
- The frequency and distance between repeated keywords
- How keywords are distributed on the page
- Keywords within the HTML elements
You can calculate keyword density by dividing the number of repeated keywords (NKR) by the total number of words on the page (TKN).
The formula is as follows: KD = (NKR/TKN) x 100.
For example, if you repeat a word six times in a 300-word article the keyword density will be 2%, calculated as follows:
KD = (6/300) x 100 = 0.02 or 2%.
As you can see, it’s fairly simple to calculate keyword density yourself by counting the keywords and your total word count, or if you want to quickly check its percentage there are tools available like SEO Review Tools Keyword Density Checker.
Excessive keyword density can lead to keyword stuffing (too many or unnaturally repeated keywords on a web page), which could make your page content sound strange and be identified by search engines as spam. That’s one of the main reasons why an analysis of keyword density is necessary – to avoid being penalized by search engines.
Keyword Density is also known as Keyword Frequency, although these two terms have slightly different meanings: keyword frequency refers to the number of times a keyword is repeated on the web page, while keyword density is its percentage.
Keywords: The Heart of SEO
Understanding what keywords are and how to use them is the beating heart of an effective and well-rounded SEO strategy. Keywords serve as the bridge or access point between what users are searching for and the content, products, or services you provide. Without the right keywords, it becomes a lot more difficult for people to find your website.
However, keyword research and strategy must be maintained and corrected over time. It is not a static process, but one that must be continuously refined and researched to make sure that your website stays on top of SERPs and doesn’t lose its spot to the competition.
Selecting the right keywords that align with your content, intentions, and target audience is critical to not only attracting users to your site but also making sure that these users are the right ones that you want – ultimately leading to more conversions in your sales funnel, and the income that you need.
By understanding the different types of keywords and what they are for, you can tailor your content to meet the specific needs and queries of your target demographic. Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and Semrush play an important role in staying ahead of the race, and anyone can use them to help improve their SEO.
Through all of this and the rest of the complex nature of SEO, keywords function as a map covering the vast, sometimes difficult-to-navigate online world, which contains massive amounts of information. Keywords keep you on track and allow others to navigate towards you.
To succeed in the fast-paced, online, digital marketplace of today, mastering the art of keyword selection is not merely a choice but an absolute necessity to ensure that your digital identity, website, or business remains prominent on SERPs and can reach the people you need to reach in order to make sales.
Don’t neglect your keywords- reach out to SEO experts today if you need help and get your website started moving up the rankings!