How to choose your SEO keywords

SEO keywords

In my experience, choosing the right SEO keywords is all about not being too greedy.

Many small business owners I’ve worked with want their site to rank for millions of keywords and keyword phrases. Because of this, the site content becomes a bit unfocused and the SEO results are disappointing.

It’s also important to remember that search spiders view each page of content as unique, so you don’t have to cram all your keywords onto your home page. Instead you can spread them across all the site pages and posts.

Here are my keyword suggestion tips to help you when you’re writing SEO copy for your next web page:

Step one: Brainstorm

Write a list of all the keywords and phrases that might be useful for this particular post or page. For example, for this article I’d probably want to include:

SEO, keywords, keyword phrases, SEO copywriting, digital copywriting, website copywriting, copywriter, advice, tips, Google, Kate Toon.

Step two: Research

Try using the keyword suggestion tool at Google Adwords to generate more options. It might show you some interesting variations that you hadn’t thought of. For example, when I typed in ‘SEO keywords’ it suggested:

Google adwords, search engine keyword tool, keyword suggestion tools.

Also, check out some of your competitors. What keywords are they using? Any good ones you can ‘borrow’?

Step three: Check the difficulty rating

Consider using the keyword difficulty tool at MOZ.org to assess whether you’ve got a cat in hell’s chance of ranking for a given keyword. The higher the % the more difficult it will be to get any real results.

Be aware that for:

  • Single keywords, e.g. Copywriter – the competition is stiff. (6,920,000 competitors on Google.com.au).
  • Two-word keyword phrases get easier, e.g. Sydney Copywriter. (164,000 competitors on Google.com.au).
  • And three-word keyword phrases are even easier, e.g. Sydney SEO Copywriter. (14,400 competitors on Google.com.au).

So the bigger your phrase the more chance you have of achieving a good ranking, but obviously more complex phrases aren’t searched for as much as single words. It’s all a compromise.

Step four: Check out your competitors

It’s important to know who you’re up against and if you have a chat in hells chance of beating them.

If the top plays have a lower Domain Authority than you, then you might just be able to rank above them.

Domain authority

Step five: Narrow down your list

Now is the time to be brutal, try to pick just three or four phases for your page. For this article I’m going to choose:

‘keyword suggestion tips, keyword competition, SEO copywriting, SEO advice’

A few things to note:

  • Plurals don’t make a huge difference so avoid using ‘tip’ and ‘tips’.
  • The order of keywords makes a slight difference, as you’ll note if you search for ‘Copywriter Sydney’ as opposed to ‘Sydney Copywriter’, so if you’re going for a longer three or four word phrase, put the most important words at the beginning.
  • Prepositions/possessive pronouns don’t add much value, so avoid if possible. Go for: ’Web copywriting Sydney’ rather than ‘Web copywriting in Sydney’.

Step six: Work them through your copy

With your keywords written down, you can now attack your copy. Be sure to place keywords in your:

  • Title Tag.
  • Meta Description.
  • Header (H1 tag).
  • Sub headers (H2, H3, H4 tags).
  • First 100 words or introduction.
  • Internal and external links.
  • Alt Tags.

And be sure to bold a few keyword phrases here and there for extra SEO juice.

Step seven: Don’t spam

Don’t just have a paragraph of keywords repeated at the bottom of your post. Google is wise to keyword stuffing, so don’t risk it.

Step eight: Review your copy

Consider running your copy through a tool like Wordle to test keyword saturation. The bigger the word appears the more often it’s been used (see image above).

Step nine: Test when live

You can also try using the Term Target tool on SEOMOZ to assess how well your page is targeted for a particular keyword when it’s live.

In summary, when deciding on your SEO keywords, it’s better to be choosy. Don’t try and optimise any given page for too many keywords. If you come up with some great ones that you can’t use this time, save them for your next post.

Want to have a chat?

If you need a Copywriter, SEO Consultant or Information Architect, then please call me for a chat and an obligation free quote. I'm in Sydney Australia on +61 (0) 418 166 458 or contact me.

  • http://theprimateperspective.com Duncan

    Excellent help! Thank you kindly Kate!

    • http://www.katetoon.com SEO copywriter

      Thanks for your comment Duncan.

  • http://lovehateadvertising.wordpress.com/ Mitch Devine

    Very useful post. Thanks for the tool tips also! BTW, you left out the footer in Step five – was this intentional?

    • http://www.katetoon.com SEO copywriter

      hey Mitch. Thanks for commenting. I generally thing the footer is a good place for a primary navigation repeat. Especially if your main nav is graphical, flash or has a lot of JScript in it. But many SEO bods claim that spiders only get through the first 300 words approximately, on the page. By the time they’ve churned through the nav, the graphic alts etc and into the body that would mean many don’t make it to the footer. But generally you should put your keywords anywhere that seems sensible!

  • Jackie Helm

    Just found your website and I love it. I read so much stuff about SEO but your articles are so understandable. The article above finally make keywords clear to me. Thanks Jackie H.

    • http://www.katetoon.com SEO copywriter

      Thanks for your kind comment Jackie. I’m glad I can spread a bit of SEO love!

  • Marcin Krakowiak

    Instead of research I also recommend tracking website’s positions by keywords – I use Colibri Tool – it also has a really fine competition monitor, it can suggest your competitor’s and track their rankings 24 hours per day..

    • admin

      Excellent. Thanks Marcin, good advice

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  • Alison

    I love the clear steps you’ve outline, Kate. My question is how I optimise pages and posts that are already live. My site is fairly new and I’m probably not ranking at all at the moment. Thanks, Alison.

Who is Kate Toon?

Hi, I'm an award-winning SEO copywriter and SEO consultant with over 18 years’ experience. I've worked with big brands such as Westpac, the RTA, Curash and Kmart and helped countless small businesses to produce great content.

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