How to choose the RIGHT keywords for SEO so you actually get traffic

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    Want to get more search engine traffic ? Then choose the right keywords for your website. Ready? Then let’s go.

    Website goals and seo strategy 

    The keywords you choose will depend on the maturity and domain authority of your website.

    For example, if you’re launching a new website you’ll struggle to rank for highly competitive commercial keywords.

    And the keywords you choose when you’re growing, stagnant or in decline will be different.

    choose the right keywords using the business life cycle chart.

    Launch – the Spaghetti Strategy

    When you are doing keyword research for a brand new website every keyword will be difficult to rank for because your new website needs to establish authority with Google.

    So you should use The Spaghetti Strategy:

    • Pick different keywords
    • Throw up pages to get them ranked
    • See which ones stick
    • Look at your current rankings and progressively optimise those keywords using Search Console data

    The SEO Spaghetti Strategy is where you research and pick different keywords and topics related to your business, throw up pages to get them ranked then see which ones stick and get ranked well.

    Then you look at your rankings and progressively optimise those keywords using Search Console data.

    Growth – choose keywords with high click volume and link intent

    For a growing website your keyword research process may be to aim for high monthly search volume and click volume as this strategy will fuel your traffic.

    However, you might not have the same domain authority as the strongest competitor in your industry so choose keywords with link intent.

    Link intent keywords are those where others in your industry have a history of linking to; this strategy will help you boost your domain authority and increase the rankings of more difficult keywords.

    Maturity – choose keywords with high commercial intent

    A mature website with a strong domain rating and high quality links should focusing on targeting or improving keywords with high commercial intent.

    Decline – improve existing keyword positions or keyword declines

    As the website has matured or is in decline, your strategy should be to look for keywords that dropped out of page 1.

    Download Guide : How to choose the RIGHT keywords

    Choose a seed keyword (witha keyword research tool)

    Knowing the keyword strategy to pursue from the previous step, the next step is to start with a seed keyword.

    Write down a list of your services or products and the category of business you operate it.

    Google Search Console

    I’m not fond of using non seo tools such as Keyword Planner or Google Trends to build up keyword lists for a new website.

    For growing, mature and declining websites Search Console will display the top 1000 search queries you currently rank for along with impressions (similar to search volume), position and CTR.

    For a new website, the best keyword research tool is Ahrefs.

    Data Studio Keyword Bubble Chart

    I’ve created a Data Studio report to reveal keywords that a website ranks for on page 1, 2 and 3.

    Simply hover over a large bubble to see the name of the query, impressions and average position.

    Choose keywords with the biggest bubble at the bottom of page 1 and the top of page 2.

    Use Google Images

    Go to Google, enter any one of your seed keywords and select the images tab.

    Look at how it displays related keywords.

    Or let’s say you’re an accountant.

    You might have to vary the keyword; start with accountancy and you will find related phrases such as tax, bookkeeping, finance, ledger.

    I clicked ledger and found words such as ledger accounting, general ledger, accounts payable, balance sheet, accounts receivable, cash accounting.

    Shoulder topics

    Another tactic to choose keywords that I like to use before starting any research is to put my target keyword or service into a tool called relatedwords.org

    You’ll see related terms to your focus keyword using this tool as per the image below.

    Don’t choose a keyword, choose a page

    I have developed a tool to choose a page instead of choosing a keyword.

    There is a correlation between average position and average click through rate for a page.

    Choose any page just above the trendline to improve.

    Download Guide : How to choose the RIGHT keywords

    Filter keyword list

    Let’s say you generated an initial list of keywords, here’s a few filtering techniques to apply in either Ahrefs or Google Sheets.

    Buyer journey keywords

    You can filter your keyword list by modifiers to determine which stage of the buyers journey they fall into.

    Problem stage modifiers (at the awareness stage)

    You might wish to choose keywords where people have a problem they seek to solve.

    So you’d filter your keyword list with these modifiers.

    how, what, and, for, with, where, when, for, with, and, issue, fix, improve, increase, reduce, remove, lower, grow

    Information stage modifiers

    In my research, the majority of searches occur at the informational search stage where users are searching for brand and product information.

    So filter your list with these modifiers to find an informational keyword.

    example, guide, learn, tutorial, video, calculator, best, top, bespoke, service, color, colour

    Evaluation of alternatives keyword modifiers

    Your potential customers might be at the stage of comparing alternative products or services so choosing keywords that contain these modifiers may be the right decision 

    review, compare, comparison, vs, versus, alternative, similar, or

    Purchase decision stage modifiers

    And finally you can filter your keyword list by purchase decision modifiers.

    Buy, nearest, cheap, dimensions, size, shop, store, discount, coupon, deal, sale, ebay, amazon, offer

    You can easily filter Ahrefs and any spreadsheet with any of these keyword modifiers.

    Filter by cost per click

    I’m currently doing keyword research for a home improvement company just starting out online.

    When I filter by cost per click I can see search terms that have the greatest commercial value.

    The flip side is to find search terms with the lowest cost per click and the highest search volume.

    Low competition keywords

    In this article I wrote a guide to finding low competition keywords with high search volume.

    Targeting low competition or low keyword difficulty search terms is a great seo strategy for new websites however these search terms tend to have less commercial intent and are further up the funnel.

    Use Parent Topic for a keyword cluster

    Many SEO experts recommend building a keyword clutter or hub on your website.

    You start with a target keyword and build a bunch of pages all grouped together about the same subject.

    I have a keyword hub – 19 pages to teach people about this topic.

    Whilst there’s many tools on the market, using Ahrefs parent topic filter is the easiest and fastest way to identify and choose keywords to build a cluster or hub.

    Long Tail Keywords – Console – Bubble

    Earlier I mentioned The Spaghetti Strategy of throwing up pages to a new website then using Search Console to refine those pages.

    Search Console is fantastic at identifying long tail keywords that many popular paid research tools find.

    A quick recap on head tail and long tail keywords.

    The head tail keyword may be “loft conversion”

    The long tail could be “live in bungalow how much does basic loft conversion cost”.

    Choose a keyword where there is potential to earn additional traffic to your website.

    Newly discovered, trending or question keywords (Ahrefs and Frase)

    Since people use a search engine to find answers, choosing to target common questions makes sense.

    You can find the questions you already rank for in Search Console and in Ahrefs.

    Ahrefs have a newly discovered keyword tool; although I seldom use.

    Download Guide : How to choose the RIGHT keywords

    Identify Search Volume and Click Volume

    I have developed my own tool for choosing keywords and estimating the organic traffic potential.

    This tool was built around keywords chosen with Ahrefs.

    You export your keyword list and, after importing into a spreadsheet, the average traffic to the top pages is shown alongside a bar chart.

    When you have 500 keyword ideas to choose from you can prioritise simply by looking at the keyword bar chart.

    If you have a list of data from Search Console then you will need calculate the click through rate by position with the current impressions.

    Understand the keywords and select user intent

    One of the mistakes I used to make with keyword research was to just find a good keyword with good clicks and low difficulty.

    I created the content but it never seemed to do well.

    Was the problem the level of competition or my writing ability?

    The core of my keyword strategy is to now fully understand user intent.

    Let’s say the keyword you are targeting is “drink cabinet”.

    The search intent is obvious; the user looking for a drink cabinet.

    User intent is understanding the type of content on your page the user wants.

    Do they want to buy, are they looking for a custom drink cabinet, are they looking for a list of drink cabinet ideas ?

    Knowledge of user intent will not only ensure you choose the right keywords but understand what the target customer wants, the correct content format and what written content to produce.

    Search the keyword

    Eg: dining table and chairs set

    What kind of pages do you see ranking ?

    If you’re not sure, click on a few of the top results.

    I see ecommerce category pages

    Select the User Intent

    Create a spreadsheet to store your keyword.

    Create a user intent column with options for each type of intent.

    Download Guide : How to choose the RIGHT keywords

    Select correct content format

    One of my friends is a chartered accountant and when I researched opportunities for his website, I simply gave him a click forecast of important keywords and asked him to choose yes or no.

    No messing about; a simple yes or no answer then onto producing the content.

    Add to Website Plan

    Your job is to scroll down the list of keywords and choose Yes or No from the Add to Website Plan for each keyword.

    If you are doing this work for a client, then give them editor access to this Click Forecasting Template and the instructions to select Yes or No in the Add to Website Plan column.

    To share Click Forecasting Template.

    • Click Share in the top of Google Sheets
    • Click Change underneath Get Link
    • Click the arrow next to Viewer and change to Editor
    • Click Copy Link and Done
    • Then email the link to the client

    Write out page titles

    After you’ve added the keyword to the website plan you can write out a page title.

    It’s not essential at this stage but helps a client understand the page better.

    Finalise your list of keywords

    You should now have a list of keywords with the Yes option selected in your Add to Website Plan.

    Count the Average Traffic for those keywords.

    Ideally that numbers should be 10 times greater than the 1000 clicks ie: 10,000.

    Download Guide : How to choose the RIGHT keywords

    Choose pages or posts for target audience / potential customers

    Once you’ve chosen pages for your potential customers now you can write page titles, description tags and content outline for each page or blog post.

    Give the brief to your writer so you can provide written content to match the user queries.

    Yes, this is hard work.

    But I believe that by choosing the right keywords with these strategies can help you achieve your goals.