Selecting keywords is the first step in SEO—and it is crucial! Although selecting keywords may at first seem a bit obvious, it’s important not to downplay the significance of this vital first step.
Selecting keywords is the first step in SEO – and it is crucial!
Although selecting keywords may at first seem a bit obvious, it’s important not to downplay the significance of this vital first step.
Keywords help users find you on the Internet, or in what may well have been the famous words of Al Gore (or perhaps some other self-proclaimed visionary), they “help the searched to be sought.” They do so by helping search engines identify the relevance of your website to a user’s search. Google’s Search Console explains, “If a site ranks well for a keyword, it's because [Google] has algorithmically determined that its content is more relevant to the user's query.”
In short, keywords are important because they drive search engines’ algorithms, which dictate your SERP ranking (aka page rank), which affects how discoverable you are on the Internet – because practical experience tells us if you aren’t ranking on the first page of SERP, your chances of being seen are smaller than if you were eating a white popsicle in a white suit in a whiteout. In fact, statistical analysis performed by Chitika Insight confirms that if you aren’t ranking on the first page, you have a less than 9% chance of being seen.
Keywords are the foundation of your SEO strategy
Since the right keywords lead to higher page ranks, and higher page ranks increase visibility, selecting the right terms should be the first step when looking to drive website traffic. Keywords are selected both when initially setting up your site, and also when adding to or optimizing existing website content. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when establishing your keyword foundation.
Dedicating one keyword per page
Once you’ve selected individual keywords and seaerch queries to utilize for your site, it's important to determine which keywords to assign to each page. While it’s tempting to overload your landing page with long streams of somewhat arbitrary terms in an attempt to widen your net, this approach is actually counterproductive and can diminish search results.
When assigning keywords, each page should be assigned a unique keyword (or small group of words) that indisputably clarifies both content and intent. If your website is under construction, content on each page can then be developed to support and highlight your keywords. If you’re adding content or specifically seeking to optimize existing content, add keywords that uniquely identify new pages and distinguish each from a general web page with more specific information.
Aggregating keyword data
When selecting keywords, it’s important to avoid only utilizing terms that are highly/overly competitive in search yields, or have low search volumes. Targeting overly competitive words can cause searches to be diluted and result in lower page ranks, while words with low search volumes are often overlooked completely. Viewed with an eye for economics, this can be seen as supply and demand.
What are the most popular keywords used by your competitors? How can we distinguish ourselves, and what analytics are available to help answer these questions? An excellent tool worth checking out is Moz’s Keyword Difficulty tool. The tool assesses the popularity of individual keywords and ranks their relative “difficulty” on a scale of 1 to 100. Keywords deemed “too competitive” can be filtered out and terms can be located that are at the crossroads of both rarity and accessibility.
American author Robert Collier notes that “supply always comes on the heels of demand.” SEO follows this logic and keywords are no exception in that demand (in this case internet searches for specific keywords) drives keyword adoption. But how can we avoid the pitfall of assigning overly sought after keywords that, due to their now generic value, create lower page ranks? A great tool for this is Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner. Google notes that you can “search for keyword and ad group ideas, get historical statistics, see how a list of keywords might perform, and even create a new keyword list by multiplying several lists of keywords together.” This is a free service provided by Google and a great analytical tool that can be used to understand the demand for unique keywords and develop the correct set to assign to both your new and expanding pages.
Organic Search Value
While the services referenced above provide the insight and tools required to help the average user/developer understand the keyword data, neither successfully combine both the elements of supply and demand. When developing our keyword groups, the final step we take to determine keyword relevance is the darling of Adpearance’s analytical toolkit, our Organic Search Value algorithm. While we've found other services are limited by their focus and approach – either to supply or demand – Adpearance has bridged this gap by combining keyword recommendations, which account for both competitor adoption rates and common keyword queries, into a one stop guide for keyword selection and placement.
The last words
Website development and optimization of existing sites should start with proper keyword selection. Page rank is driven by applicability, and only by leveraging available analytics and tools can we determine which search queries are relevant and will drive the most traffic by helping users find what they're looking for. Although keyword research can be a bit laborious, the value is evident and it’s a must do for all companies looking to increase both traffic and conversions. So, I urge you to commit to establishing or updating your keywords, and with proper implementation, enjoy the results!