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How to Choose the Right Keywords for Your Business

One of the first steps to improving SEO is to identify which keywords that you should focus on and create a list or spreadsheet to prioritize them. Focusing on the right keywords can help attract the right visitors to your site and increase your traffic. Here are 3 factors to consider when determining which keywords to put at the top of your keyword list.

Intent

Does a searcher have the intent to buy when searching for the keyword phrase? For example the keyword phrase “cheap Mariners tickets” may be searched by someone seeking to purchase whereas the phrase “2010 Mariners statistics” may be an individual who is looking for information but is not ready to buy. Even if you ranked #1 in Google for low intent keyword phrases, they will typically not lead to a sale. Longer keyword phrases (also known as “long tail phrases”) typically have a higher conversion rate than short keyword phrases because the searcher is often looking for something very specific. To simplify your process, you can categorize keywords as high, medium, or low intent.

Difficulty

How difficult would it be to rank in search engines for a given keyword phrase? Some keyword phrases can take years and tremendous effort to rank on page one. Others only require that you create a blog post that focuses on that keyword phrase. There are several ways to measure the difficulty of a keyword phrase including Google’s free Adwords Keyword Tool.

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Here I entered the phrase “Seattle vet”. The competition column shows a bar graph with an estimated level of competition for each keyword phrase. For “Seattle vet” it is around 7/10. However, you should keep in mind that this is competition for Google Adwords, not necessarily the level of competition for organic (free) search. Companies overall spend about 7-8 times as much money on paid ads compared to improving organic results.

A paid tool that measures keyword difficulty is SEOMoz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool. This provides a more accurate measure of the difficulty of keywords in organic search. For “Seattle vet” the difficulty was 28% which is pretty low. SEOMoz also shows the authority of the top 10 results in Google so you can get an idea of your chances of knocking one of these pages off the top 10.

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Search Volume

Google Adwords Keyword Tool also provides estimates of the amount of monthly traffic for a given keyword phrase. Another useful free tool is the SEOBook Keyword Suggestion Tool which provides daily estimates from Google, Bing and Wordtracker.

The amount of search traffic can help you prioritize where to focus your efforts in activities like creating new pages about a specific phrase. Also you can discover opportunities where there are a lot of people searching for a given phrase rather than the phrase that you are currently using on your site. For instance an auto repair shop may call themselves “Seattle auto technicians” although more people are searching for “Seattle car repair shop”.

I would recommend starting out with about 100 keywords that you determine are valuable to your business. You should continuously add to this list as you think of new ideas and keep track of ones that you are able to achieve a page one ranking. You can also read the previous post on 10 Ways to Find What Keywords Potential Customers Search For.

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