How to Choose Keywords for SEO: A Guide to Finding and Using the Right Keywords

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Including the right keywords on your website signals to users that your content is relevant to them. Keywords also help search engines to understand and classify your content. In short, they’re absolutely crucial for SEO.

Thousands of articles have been written about the importance of keyword research. While keywords aren’t the end-all-be-all of SEO, if you’re optimizing for the wrong ones, your content production efforts won’t have the results you expect.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to choose keywords for SEO, so your content can rank while addressing the needs of your users.

Let ‘s get started.

How to Choose Keywords For SEO: Best Practices

There isn’t a surefire way to choose keywords for SEO. Ultimately, it all comes down to a combination of industry research and insight into your users’ needs. Plus, it also depends on where you stand in your niche. For example, if you own a seasoned website with thousands of backlinks, you’re better prepared to compete for high-difficulty keywords than a new website with few backlinks.

In this section, we’ll share some tips and practices you can follow to avoid choosing irrelevant or unattainable keywords.

How to choose keywords for SEO

We suggest you:

  • Consider users’ search intent
  • Keep track of your competitors’ most popular keywords
  • Consider long-tail keywords
  • Make the most of keyword research tools
  • Only use keywords that are relevant to your business
  • Keep an eye on your best keywords, protect them and learn from your success

Let ‘s dive in.

Understand Search Intent & Analyze your Keywords Accordingly

When choosing which keywords to target, always consider search intent.
Basically, search intent refers to a user’s motivation to perform an online search. Understanding it will help you choose the right keywords and decide what type of content you should create to target them.

4 types of user search intent for SEO.

Search intent can be categorized into 4 types:

  • Informational Search Intent, which applies to users who have a specific question or want to find out more about a particular topic. For example: “how to choose the right keywords”, “what is a PPC ad,” or “music festivals this summer.”
  • Navigational Search Intent, which applies to those looking for a specific website. For example, people searching for “Twitter” usually want to go to Twitter’s website.
  • Transactional Intent, which includes queries made by users who want to purchase a specific product. An example of a transactional keyword would be “Lollapalooza tickets”.
  • Commercial Search Intent, which includes users who plan to buy in the future, but first want to compare their options. These users usually search terms like “What is the best computer?” or “What is the best iPhone 12?”. These queries are characterized by the presence of brand names and the reference to specific products.

Depending on their search intent, users will expect to find different types of content. It’s key to provide them with posts and pages that match their search intent. Otherwise, they may simply leave your site without engaging.
In other words, if a keyword is common among users looking for information, you have to provide information. If it focuses on making a purchase, you need to provide users with a product page. If the user is looking for your website, you should appear first in searches so that they can quickly find you.
By understanding the user’s search intent, Google can rank search results accordingly as well. This means that if the user searches for “easy chicken casserole”, Google will prioritize recipes, since that is what the user probably wants to find.

So, when wondering how to choose keywords for SEO, the first thing that you have to consider is your customers’ search intent. With a user-focused perspective, you can hardly go wrong.

Make the Most Out of Keyword Research Tools

Doing keyword research becomes easy with the right toolkit. There are countless free and premium tools you can use for keyword research.

For example, you can use Google Keyword Planner to find relevant keywords and categorize them according to their search volume. Then, use Google Trends to determine if it’s worth investing in the low-volume term due to its growth potential.

Historical data for the keyword "Black friday sales" from Google Trends
Source: Black Friday SEO Tips: Optimize your Site for the Holiday Season

Moreover, Google Trends can help you spot trendy terms that are worth your attention, and could help you rank. For some extra context, you can complement that research with Moz’s free SEO tools.

However, free tools are usually pretty limited.
If you’re looking for a premium alternative, we suggest taking a look at:

  • SEMRush
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz
  • SpyFu
  • Ubersuggest

Which keyword research tool is best for you will depend on:

  • Your level of SEO expertise
  • Whether you’re targeting a non-US market
  • Your budget
  • How competitive your niche is

If you’re assembling your SEO toolkit, we have a list of recommended tools you may want to check out.

Check Your Competitors’ Keywords

Finding out what your competitors’ best keywords are can help you evaluate your own, and create a strategy to outperform them. Aside from your direct competitors, you should know what’s the most successful content of the leaders in your niche.

Start out by listing your main competitors/role models, and scanning their website with your SEO tool of choice. For example, here’s the analysis of Ahrefs’ best keywords, according to Moz’s free domain explorer:

Keyword research results from Moz Domain explorer

If you’re in a low-competition niche or have a particularly strong backlink profile, you may be able to compete for top-ranking keywords through high-quality content. Nonetheless, challenging very popular sites in a highly competitive niche can be difficult, especially if you’re trying to grab their top-ranking keywords.
If you’re at a disadvantage, use your research to understand what your target audience is looking for, and target more specific, long-tail keywords.

Consider Long-tail Keywords

Nowadays, people are looking for specific and immediate answers. Consequently, they tend to use multiple search terms to make sure they find what they are looking for. When a search term includes three or more words, it’s called a long-tail keyword.

Long-tail keywords have lower search volumes than their shorter alternatives. However, they:

  • Produce more relevant traffic
  • Are less competitive
  • Are easier to rank for

Ranking well for a general or overly popular keyword can be a bit difficult, especially if you’re just starting out. Thus, long-tail keywords can be powerful tools to boost your SEO strategy.

Be Sure to Use Keywords that Are Relevant for your Business

Make sure your keywords have business potential before creating content around them. Check that the search intent matches what you do and what you offer.

This means that if the search intent calls for a service, you have to ask yourself if you offer this service or operate in a relevant niche. If you do, the keyword is relevant to your business.

Moreover, if the user’s search intent is to gather information, you should wonder if you’re a relevant source of that information. Before writing a blog post targeting that keyword, ask yourself:

  • Will the user find your brand relevant?
  • Is there a chance that a user that finds that piece of content will eventually convert?

For example, for us at SEORadar, a keyword like “how can I monitor my SEO” would have a high commercial potential since we offer an SEO tool. Nevertheless, “how to install Linux” is totally unrelated to our product. Thus, it doesn’t have much commercial value.

Once you’ve identified valuable keywords, remember that quality always comes first. Hence, avoid creating content that is repetitive, vague, and adds no real value. Even if the keyword has potential, if you can’t provide good content for it, it’s better to discard it.

Additionally, don’t reuse keywords. The repeated use of keywords across your site will only cause your pages to compete with each other instead of their competitors, leading to content cannibalization.

Keep Track of your Best Keywords, Analyze Trends & Take Action

Keyword research isn’t a one-off task. Stay on top of search trends, and design a content calendar that combines timely and evergreen content. When it comes to your pages, make sure to keep them updated and competitive, so you can preserve your SERP position.

Learn from your most successful content and work to replicate that success. Take a moment to brainstorm how you could replicate your most successful articles today to provide similar value to your audience and achieve similar results. At the end of the day, your content’s success doesn’t just depend on targeting good keywords. It also depends on providing your audience with content they enjoy and find useful.

Additionally, make sure you keep your most valuable content updated, so it remains competitive as the months and the years go by. That way, you can maintain your ranking as well as your backlinks.

Keep Your Best Keywords Ranking With SEORadar

SEORadar monitors your website’s code 24/7, sending you notifications when it detects changes that could affect your SERP positioning. One of the many changes SEORadar detects is the removal of a keyword from a page’s metatags or titles. This makes it a key ally for protecting all your keywords, no matter how large your site is.

Keep an eye on your best keywords with SEORadar. Want to see it in action? Start a free trial or book a demo.

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