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How to Decide What Keywords To Target

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most beneficial ways to grow a business’s online presence organically. Keywords are a crucial component of SEO strategy and they will influence what searches your website ranks for. In order to have a successful SEO strategy, it’s imperative to select the right keywords and gather data as you optimize for them to determine which keywords work best for your business and which ones need more work. Before you start collecting keyword data, you need to decide which initial keywords you are going to target.

Set Your Overall Goals

Before selecting your keywords, sit down and set your SEO goals. Search engine optimization strategy is typically put in place to increase traffic to a website and increase revenue, but being as specific as possible with your goals will help create the unique, tailored strategy to your specific needs.

Consider the following:

  • Do you want to focus on brand awareness or are you interested in converting users to paying customers?
  • Do you have a specific audience that you want to be reaching?
  • How fast do you want to be seeing results?

Keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing process and it can take months before seeing results. Optimizing and ranking for keywords that are competitive will take a longer period of time than optimizing and ranking for keywords that are less-competitive.

Short- and Long-Tail Keywords

Keeping in mind that various algorithms and the variations of searches submitted by different users, optimizing for both short- and long-tail keywords will yield the best overall results. Both types of keywords are beneficial for short- and long-term traffic strategies.

Short-Tail Keywords: Short, typically one-to-three words with higher traffic and higher competition

Long-Tail Keywords: Longer, conversational phrases with lower traffic and lower competition

Keyword Research

Now that you have your goals defined and understand the basics of what types of keywords to consider, it’s time to start the fun part: keyword research.

  • Keep the user in mind. Write down a few keywords to get you started in your research. These don’t have to be anything crazy! Consider what the user might be searching in order to find you.
  • Utilize a keyword generator. Based off of your preliminary keywords, utilize a keyword reserch tool to come up with other keywords that are being used in search engine queries and some of the stats associated with the keywords.
  • Create a master list. During your keyword reseach, keep a master list of all of the keywords that pertain to your business and the services/goods you provide. This will allow you to easily make adjustments whenever necessary.

Narrow Down Your List

Once you have finished your keyword research and are no longer adding keywords to your master list, it’s time to narrow down your list to help you decide which keywords to focus on first. Weed out the weakest keywords by focusing on the following variables:

  • Relevance. Even if a keyword has high traffic and low competition, it doesn’t mean that it is a good fit for your brand. Always make sure that the keywords you are using correlate to your brand and your offerings so that the users submitting the query are finding the related information on you website.
  • Competition – Keywords that have a high volume of searches are going to be more competitive. When there is a lot of competition for a particular keyword, it directly correlates with how difficult it will be to rank for.
  • Current Rankings – Check your current rankings for the keywords on your list. If you’re already ranking for some of them, this will give you early momentum for increasing the rankings for these keywords.
  • Volume – Relating to the amount of times the keyword/phrase is searched for. This will give you a better idea of how much traffic the keyword will produce.

Start Optimizing Your Website

Now that you’ve narrowed down your list of keywords it’s time to start optimizing for them. This first set up won’t be perfect but as you collect data on your rankings and traffic, you’ll be able to adjust them to maximize the traffic to your website. Don’t be afraid to make changes and keep an open mind.

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