Choosing the Best Keywords

Choosing the best keywords for your website is an art, blended with a bit of science. Making the right keyword selection is a balance between the number of people searching for a particular keyword and the competition for that keyword. The best strategy to understand this balance is utilizing keyword selector tools that help you discover how people are actually searching the Internet. By understanding how people are searching for your product or service, and how much competition you have, you’ll know what keywords to focus on and which to leave alone.

To start, a good technique is thinking of all the ways people could possibly refer to your product or service. Then, we’ll research these keywords (using a FREE keyword selector tool).  This will reveal which keywords have the most potential for ranking in the search engines. Are you ready to find your best keywords?

Using the Google Keyword Selection Tool

The Google Keyword Tool is probably the most important tool when it comes to choosing the best keywords for your website. The simple fact that Google dominates the search market, (because 8/10 searches are done using Google), means that this tool is pretty accurate at showing you how a large majority of people are using search. Here’s how to use it to get your best keywords.

  1. Open the Google Keyword Tool in your browser
  2. Type in a keyword you think describes your page of content
  3. Keep the “synonyms” box checked and click “Get Keyword Ideas”
  4. View your keyword results

The nice thing about this tool is that Google lists the search results for the specific keyword you entered at the top. Then underneath that, there is a list of many synonyms for that keyword. So if the keyword you typed in doesn’t have a lot of searches, you can see which ones do. For example, when doing this SEO tutorial, I first thought about using the keyword: “right keywords.” The Google Keyword Tool research showed these results (NOTE: these results will change over time as people’s search patterns vary):

Google Keyword Tool results for right keywords

Only 480 searches for “right keywords” in the global search results. Those results span over a year of Google search and its search network.  That may not be bad, but its not great either. Now look at this:

Google Keyword Tool results for best keywords

“Best keywords” had 9900 monthly searches in May and 8100, monthly searches on average over the last year. It doesn’t take a mathematician to understand that these results are much better than my first pick, over 20x better. So in this instance, using the phrase, “best keywords” may be a good keyword choice.


Another Keyword Selection Tool

You may not want to rely completely on Google’s keyword selector tool, or maybe you just want to see how people are searching all over the web.  In this case, you may want to look at another keyword selector tool called WordTracker.  WordTracker compiles search results from Dogpile, which includes Yahoo, Bing, Google and other search engies. This gives you a different perspective on how people are using search across multiple search engines, and helps balance your research.  You can use a limited version of WordTracker for free, or sign up for a seven day trial. After that, it’s $59/month. For most people, it’s not necessary, but this SEO tutorial wouldn’t be complete without mentioning it.


More Search Isn’t Always Better

As we stated before, choosing the best keywords for your website is really an art.  So it’s important to state that there are no hard set rules to choosing your keywords.  When you look at the results from your keyword selector tool, you want to weigh the number of searches for a keyword against the competition you’ll likely encounter for that keyword.  In short, more searches doesn’t mean a better keyword!  If a keyword has 100,000 monthly searches, the competition for that keyword is probably fierce, and the chance of you ranking for it are far smaller than a keyword that is very specific and may only have a couple hundred to a few thousand searches monthly. Let’s look at an example of this in the next section: using long tail keywords.


Using Long Tail Keywords

Let’s say we decide to use “best keywords” as our keyword choice for this page.  But we might also wonder if there is a more specific way to state our topic that people also search for.  So we might look at “choosing the best keywords” as a keyword to focus this article on.  That search may not have hundreds of searches, but “choosing keywords” does (as of the writing of this article anyway).  If we title the page using this phrase, called a long tail keyword, then we narrow our focus, but keep the broader focus too, which is just “best keywords.”  In a sense, we’re covering our bases to include the short tail keyword within the long tail keyword.    This maximizes our chances of being picked up for various searches people perform using these keywords.

Using long tail keywords is beneficial because a smaller number of searches for these keywords also means less competition, which also means it’s easier for you to get a higher search engine ranking for these terms.


Too Much Competition or Not Enough Search

Both extremes mean poor search results. When you do your research, remember that you don’t want keywords that no one searches, and you don’t want keywords that millions of people search. To improve your search engine ranking, you want to choose keywords that are in the middle–moderate search volume that suggests it’s worth your time investment to try to rank for those keywords, but not so much so that it will be impossible to rank for the keyword because of competition. In general, you may want to choose keywords that have at least a couple hundred search volume and 50,000 at most.


Common Mistakes When Making Your Keyword Selection

There’s nothing worse than creating a web page around a keyword only to discover no one’s searching for that keyword. Here are some other mistakes people make when choosing keywords for their website and how to avoid them:

  1. Not doing your research. You simply must check to make sure the keyword you think is the best keyword is actually the best keyword.
  2. Thinking more is better. More searches, like hundreds of thousands of searches, means more competition and a very small chance of getting ranked.
  3. Not using the long tail. Long tail keywords are actually keyword phrases that are very specific. For example, the phrase “linkbuilding service” is longtail. The number of searches for this phrase is fewer than “linkbuilding,” but the people that find our linkbuilding service using the long tail are more likely to purchase our services than if they find us through “linkbuilding,” simply because people searching the term “linkbuilding” aren’t necessarily looking for a service, whereas people searching “linkbuilding service” are, in most cases, looking for a service.
  4. Using Keywords that don’t accurately reflect the content. If your web page is about one topic, but you try to use keywords for another topic, the people that land on your page are going to know. And when they land on your page, they’re not going to stick around. And when that happens, Google’s gonna know. You can’t fake this, so make sure that if your page is a video tutorial on choosing the best keywords, for example, it had better have a video tutorial about that topic and the content should match too.


Additional SEO Videos on How to Select the Best Keywords

Matt Cutts When employed at Google, Matt Cutts filmed a video that discusses the importance of keywords keyword selection (short version) (Long version)

Aaron Wall of SEObook shows you the basics of SEO keyword research.


Free Keyword Selection Tools

Google Keyword Selection Tool

WordTracker Free Keywords

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