In search engine optimization, one of the pivotal steps is conducting keyword research. 

Knowing the right keywords for SEO and how to use them is the way to drive organic traffic to your site, improving your search engine rankings and your site’s visibility.

Whether crafting a blog post, updating your web pages, or planning a content marketing strategy (CMS), your choice of keywords noticeably impacts your success in search results. This article delves into the nitty-gritty of keyword research and aims to aid you in grasping, finding, and choosing the most effective keywords for your site.

SEO Keywords for Your Website

Conducting keyword research

Before you begin filling your content with keywords, it’s essential that you understand what keywords you should target, why knowing those is so critical to your SEO, and how to find the ones that fit each of your pages.

Tools and techniques for conducting keyword research

The essence of keyword research is the same for all businesses, but its forms vary widely. You can utilize several tools and methods to identify potential keywords that align with your target audience’s needs, business objectives, and the specifics of your website.

For starters, consider free keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner that offer most of what you will get when investing in paid tools like, for example, SEMrush. Provided by Google Ads, GKP lets you discover keywords related to your business and see estimates of the searches they receive, as well as the competition they have.

With both free and paid tools, you will have to generate keywords based on a seed keyword – a basic, general term related to your business or industry that you can use as a starting point to grow into a list when researching keywords. You can have multiple seed keywords you stem from, as those cover many topics you can investigate in detail.

To do that, you need to analyze your own site’s data and competitors’, looking for potential keywords with higher monthly search volume, varying in their keyword difficulty score, and other aspects.

There are multiple SEO tools you can combine to maximize results. In addition to the already mentioned ones, there are Ahrefs, AnswerThePublic, UberSuggest, Keywords Everywhere (browser add-on), and many more, offering myriad features. 

Google Analytics can be used to see what keywords drive traffic to your site, giving you an understanding of what’s working and what’s not to refine your keyword strategy. Competitor research examines keywords other sites in the same industry are ranking for, providing you with additional keyword options.

Analyzing search volume, competition, and relevancy of potential keywords

Once you have a broad list of potential keywords, it’s time to narrow those down and begin turning some of them into a target keyword list that can be used for each of your pages through search volume, competition, and relevancy analysis.

Search volume is expressed in the average number of times a particular keyword comes up in searches in a span of time. High search volumes indicate many people are inputting that keyword when looking for something, which means that ranking well for such words can lead to higher traffic levels. 

However, search volume scales with competition – the higher it is, the more competitors will aim to be at the top of SERP for that same keyword. That’s why sometimes it helps to use keywords that are more distinct and specialized; more on that in the next point.

Relevancy is perhaps the most critical factor when considering potential keywords because it is the middle ground where your content aligns with your field of business. Not all keywords are relevant to what you do, even if they sound juicy, as is the case with some low-competition keywords with high search volume.

Identifying long-tail and niche keywords for specific target audiences

So far, we talked about keywords in general. Still, there are practices in building a successful SEO strategy that prioritize keywords with more focus on specific aspects of search queries – those are long-tail keywords and niche keywords. 

Long-tail keywords are clean-cut, and that often results in them being longer. Visitors are more likely to use such a keyword phrase when they are closer to the point of purchase because they know more precisely what they are looking for or are simply using voice search. 

When looked at like that, long-tail keywords turn out to be highly valuable search terms since they get less traffic than more common keywords while usually having a higher conversion chance.

To identify your long-tail keywords, you must first have your primary keyword.

For instance, “clothing“. Then, when you know the buyer specifics, you might find out that useful long-tail keywords are “women’s winter coats or men’s summer shirts“. Finally, with your preferred keyword tool, you can generate popular long-tail keyword suggestions like “women’s waterproof winter coats” or “men’s short-sleeved summer shirts“.

Niche keywords perform a similar function. They are tailored to suit your niche or specialty and might not attract much traffic, but whatever traffic they do attract is highly targeted and, therefore, more likely to lead to conversions.

To identify niche keywords, you need first to understand your audience and only then use keyword research tools before finally examining your competitors in the same niche.

Identifying user intent

When you start mapping out the process for choosing the best keywords for SEO, in most cases, you will come upon a point that urges you to master how user intent works before all else.

Understanding the different types of user intent (informational, navigational, transactional)

When a user types a query into the search engine, they have a particular intent, or goal, in mind – that’s what is referred to as a search intent.

It can be classified into several types:

  • Informational intent. Searches are performed to find information on a particular topic. A keyword expressing such intent is called an informational keyword.
  • Navigational intent. Search performed to find a particular website. A keyword expressing such intent is called a navigational keyword.
  • Transactional intent. Searches are performed with the intent to make a purchase or complete a transaction. A keyword expressing such intent is called a transactional keyword.

We have prepared an example to illustrate each type of search intent. 

A user looking for “how to choose SEO keywords” likely has informational intent because they want to learn about the process of selecting SEO keywords.

On the other hand, a user searching for the NEXT BASKET site and plans” likely has navigational intent since they have input the site name and are looking to see more about it and the particular business plans of the ecommerce platform provider. 

However, it’s also possible to interpret this as a transactional intent because the user might be looking to purchase after learning more about the plans. A more obvious transactional intent example would be “buying the NB 360 plan“, where the user clearly states their desire for a purchase and even points to the type of plan they choose.

Matching keyword research with user intent to create targeted content

When you have a grasp over user intent, you can use that information to guide your keyword research process and create content that aligns with your users’ needs.

For example, if your research indicates that many users search for informational keywords related to your industry, this could be a sign for you to double down on informative content.

This process of aligning content and user intent is known as keyword mapping. You map keyword ideas for your content to the different stages of the buyer’s journey, ensuring that user needs are met at every step. 

Naturally, with such an approach, you can attract more visitors and move them through your sales funnel more effectively.

Analyzing user behavior and search patterns to better understand user intent

Analyzing user behavior

Going beyond keywords allows you to truly have a firm grip on your keyword strategy, which can be done by analyzing user behavior and search patterns. 

Having insight into what your users are looking for and how they interact with your site is the payoff of such efforts. Tools like Google Analytics will be your trusty companions along the way. 

Once users are on your site, you can track what pages they visit, how long they stay on each one, and any actions they take, like filling out a form, etc. 

This exercise lets you understand what parts of your site are most engaging, including the content and keywords most effectively attracting and keeping your audience from leaving. 

At the same time, you can use the data you have gathered to identify areas where your content could be improved in giving users what they need and make any necessary changes accordingly.

And so, you will gradually begin identifying search patterns within user behavior, giving you more options to see which keywords are most successful with your users. For example, Google Analytics’ search terms report shows the exact phrases and questions leading users to your site, allowing you to pinpoint their intent even more accurately.

Optimizing for semantic search

As search engine algorithms become more sophisticated, they focus more and more on understanding the meaning behind user queries and not just technical aspects like the keywords they are using. That is what semantic SEO is and how it is changing the way we think about optimization for search engines in general.

Understanding how search engines use semantic search to identify related topics and concepts

Search engines can provide the most relevant search results because they understand the context and intent behind user queries through semantic search. 

They do this by looking not just at the keywords users input but also at the relationship between those words and the overall meaning of the query.

When searching for, say, “apple“, the user could refer to the fruit or the technology company. A search engine utilizing semantic search would look at other words in the query or previous search phrases by the same user to determine which meaning is most likely the one behind their search intent.

Using related keywords and phrases to optimize content for semantic search

Before discussing content optimization for semantic searches, let’s step back and look at the complete picture.

During the keyword research phase, you identify a seed keyword or multiple keywords acting as a starting point that branches into potential keywords, some of which are promoted to a target keyword for specific pages.

While you might have multiple keywords to use on each page as primary, related keywords are there to diversify your text further so that it sounds more natural. You might say that’s more orientated towards the user experience, but what about actual SEO?

Well, related keywords are used to substitute target keywords while maintaining the contextual meaning and avoid keyword stuffing – or the malpractice of reusing keywords to the point your text stops sounding natural. They also prevent cannibalization when you use the same target keywords excessively on multiple pages.

And that’s what the role of related keywords and phrases is when talking about content optimization for semantic searches!

These semantically related keywords and phrases can help search engines understand the context of your content and match it with relevant searches. 

If your target keyword is “how to choose SEO keywords“, related keywords might include “keyword researchkeyword strategyand “SEO tools“. Having these in your content helps search engines understand the topic better and match it with searches that might use the same or similar phrasing.

Creating content that comprehensively covers a topic to improve relevance and authority

Another strategy for optimizing for semantic search is to create content that covers a topic exhaustively, such as a blog post

Why? Because it can improve the relevance of your content for a wider range of search queries, increasing your overall website visibility in SERP and its authority. Besides that, of course, there are many other benefits as to why SEO article writing is utilized as much as it is.

This article on choosing SEO keywords for your website is based on the same understanding. To that effect, we have split the aspects into sections to cover the whole process.

It has made it more accessible, easy-to-navigate and, in the end, what matters most – valuable to users, all the while keeping it attractive to search engines with the use of keywords our team has researched and deemed relevant by following the same steps we have outlined here.

Incorporating location-based keywords

Users search for local businesses and services all the time, making geo-targeted keywords that include terms relevant to the location users show interest in are extremely useful in local SEO strategies.

Understanding the importance of local SEO and incorporating location-based keywords

Understanding the importance of local SEO

Local SEO means optimizing your website to attract more business from relevant local searches. Companies that serve a specific geographical area use location-based keywords that attract customers in their area. 

We say customers because, in many cases, these are businesses in the food industry, such as a bakery in New York that would want to use location-based keywords like “bakery in New YorkNew York bread shopor “best cakes in Manhattan when creating their content.

Local users searching for these terms have a higher chance of seeing businesses implementing them within their pages.

Needless to say, it’s more than just stores and restaurants that use location-based keywords. Service providers and online businesses with branches in different regions also benefit from attracting local traffic.

After all, it’s not just being seen – it’s about being seen by the right people, i.e., your target audience.

Utilizing tools like Google My Business and local directories to improve visibility in local search results

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to manage how your business appears in Google SERP and on Google Maps. 

When you create a listing within GMB and optimize it with relevant information and keywords, it appears in local search results and Google Maps. In addition to that, this provides essential business information to the public, like working hours, contact info, and address. With it, you can even post updates to share news or special offers directly with customers.

As a result, customer interaction is much facilitated on both ends – users can leave reviews, and you can respond to them. Engaging directly can be linked to a more personalized approach, which many customers appreciate.

As with any other Google product, Google My Business offers insight into customer behavior, such as how customers found your business, which pages they came from, and what actions they took on your listing.

Local directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and TripAdvisor share a lot of these functionalities, being like online profiles on a local level. They allow customers to leave reviews, influencing a business’ reputation and visibility in search results.

Google pulls in information from other directories – like reviews – so positive customer reviews on such platforms can enhance your business credibility. GMB and local directories can work together in your local SEO strategy by having consistent and accurate information across all of them.

Creating content that targets location-based keywords and topics

Blog posts about local events or trends, pages on your website dedicated to your services in certain locations, location-specific landing pages, and more are considered content where you will implement location-based keywords.

For example, a real estate company might have an article about the real estate market in each city where it operates. These posts could target keywords like “real estate market in [city name] or “[city name] real estate trends“, where [city name] is any of said locations.

In some cases, regularly posting local news and updates, such as community events, local sponsorships, or any changes or developments in the local business landscape, can be an effective way to garnish the attention of people in that area.

Prioritizing high-converting keywords

Not all keywords hold the same value in SEO. Some are more likely to lead to conversions than others, and prioritizing these high-converting keywords is a smart attitude when aiming for more qualified leads.

Analyzing data on website traffic and conversion rates to identify high-converting keywords

One way to identify high-converting keywords is to analyze data on your website traffic and conversion rates with tools like Google Analytics that can provide this data.

When you perform a thorough check, you might find that specific keywords drive a lot of traffic but do not lead to that many conversions. It could be a sign that those keywords are not that effective in targeting your desired audience.

On the other hand, you might also come upon keywords that lead to a higher-than-expected number of conversions, even if they aren’t driving as much traffic. That group would be the one consisting of high-value keywords that you want to prioritize in your SEO strategy.

Focusing on keywords that are relevant to business goals and target audience

Analyzing data is tightly knit together with identifying the high-converting keywords relevant to your business and target audience. The more relevant a keyword is, the more likely you will be able to see conversions.

That’s where you need to ask yourself questions like: Who am I trying to reach with my content? What actions do I want them to take?

The keywords that appear as answers to these questions when you delve into them are the ones you will likely benefit from the most because they clarify your business goals and target audience.

For instance, a software company selling project management software will deem highly relevant keywords related to “project management software“, “best software management tools“, etc.

Utilizing long-tail keywords and specific product or service-related keywords for higher conversion rates

Another strategy that can be employed to identify high-converting keywords is to focus on long-tail keywords and specific product and service-related keywords.

That is because these are the keywords that users input when they have more knowledge about their purchase desires and are, therefore, closer to making a decision to buy. When you utilize them in your content, you are more likely to attract users interested in your product and service offering and, therefore, are more likely to convert.

Take a business for handmade leather bags as an example – it will use keywords like “handmade leather bags” or “quality leather satchels to be more precise in pointing audiences interested in that specific type of bag, effectively driving conversions compared to more general keywords like “bags or “leather goods“.

Keeping up with search engine algorithm updates

Search engine algorithms, referred to as bots or crawlers, are constantly changing and evolving. Staying on top of these updates and adapting your SEO strategy accordingly is the key to staying competitive and driving constant traffic to your site.

Staying informed on changes to search engine algorithms and their impact on keyword selection

Algorithms, in general, determine how content is distributed and shown to users. Search engine algorithms are no different, the only difference being that they rank web pages in search results.

When an algorithm goes through a change, the factors content is judged on can also change, potentially impacting the effectiveness of some keyword strategies.

For example, keyword stuffing – the practice of overloading a web page with keywords to manipulate search engine rankings – was the norm in the past. However, at some point, that became an ineffective and even harmful SEO approach since search engines readjusted their requirements for ranking pages.

Keeping yourself informed on what’s going on in the world of SEO is best done when you follow credible news outlets and blogs, attend SEO conferences and webinars, test different strategies to see what works best for your site, and stay in touch with other specialists that have their buckets of knowledge to share.

Adapting keyword strategy to changes in search engine algorithms and user search patterns

Nowadays, search engines rely on various factors to rank websites, such as a neatly organized site architecture with categories, subcategories, and content that flows naturally while including the most relevant keywords. 

Using the “wrong keywords” can get you penalized if you haven’t done your research in implementing target keywords aligned with your business goals and target audience. As long as algorithms keep changing, so does your approach to content generation.

Ranking difficulty estimates how hard it would be to rank for a particular keyword. For specific keywords, it increases as competition grows, which is why you need to always be on the move and monitor your performance and your top competitors, taking what is appropriate for meeting your business needs.

Avoiding black-hat SEO tactics that can harm search engine rankings

Black-hat SEO tactics are dubious methods designed to trick search engines and manipulate rankings, going against each engine’s guidelines and with the potential to lead to severe penalties, including a drop in rankings or even complete removal from search results.

black-hat SEO tactics

Now, most sites wouldn’t even think about black-hat SEO practices, but they might fall into the trap of using them unwillingly.

Here is what you should be on the lookout for:

  • Keyword stuffing, as mentioned earlier, is when the content quality and readability are affected by an overload of keywords;
  • Doorway pages are filled with keywords to garnish the attention of search engines while also redirecting users to a different page;
  • Hidden text is invisible to users but can be crawled by search engines, so it is usually just cramming words in one part of the page;
  • Link schemes are all about buying or exchanging links to improve a site’s perceived popularity;
  • Cloaking is about presenting different content to search engine crawlers and users, providing a different experience on each side;
  • Negative SEO is when a company tries to damage a competitor’s search engine rankings, often by pointing low-quality, spammy backlinks to their site;
  • Content automation pertains to using software or tools that generate content without manual input, resulting in low-quality and low-value pages;
  • Rich snippet markup (RSM) spam is when owners misuse RSM by adding irrelevant keywords or false reviews to improve visibility in search results;
  • and many more…

At first look, it might seem like these tactics can bring short-term success without noticeable consequences, and that could be so, but over time, they can cause long-term damage, which would be much harder to recover from. As search engines become more sophisticated, they also become more capable of detecting and penalizing such SEO practices.

white-hat approach is the obvious choice when you think of it from the user’s perspective. That is the SEO approach of those who comply with search engine guidelines, creating relevant, high-quality content and providing a great user experience and value while naturally incorporating chosen keywords.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I avoid using the wrong keywords in my content?

Using high-converting keywords and creating quality content does not guarantee success if they are unrelated to your business goals or target audience. When you use the wrong keywords, you can attract the wrong audience and obstruct valuable conversion opportunities.

Why is keyword cannibalization bad for SEO?

Because it confuses search engines about which page to rank and might lead to your pages competing against each other, potentially harming your overall performance in SERP.

Why is mapping keywords to specific pages on my website important?

Because it ensures each page targets unique, relevant keywords, helping to prevent keyword cannibalization and improve SEO.

How do I prioritize keywords for my content?

Analyze factors like search volume, relevancy, competition, and the potential for conversion. If you have gathered user data on your website, go through that as well to establish patterns in user behavior and get a more accurate description of your target audience.