Using the right keywords is crucial for SEO success. But with over hundreds of millions of searches to target, how do you identify the best terms?
This step-by-step guide will teach you proven methods for researching, analyzing, and selecting keywords that drive maximum search visibility and conversions.
Step 1: Brainstorm Primary Keyword Themes
Start by brainstorming a list of potential keyword themes and topics related to your brand or site using:
- Your current content and categories
- Industry terminology
- Competitor keywords
- Searches for your known target audience interests
- Tools like UberSuggest and Google Trends
The goal is to develop a large list of keyword ideas grouped around themes. High-volume searches often emerge through this process.
Step 2: Perform Initial Keyword Research
Next up is assessing those keyword topics using tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs to compare:
- Search Volume – Global and local monthly search volume
- Competition – Keyword difficulty scores and how competitive rankings will be
- Search Trends – Seasonal fluctuations and historical search volumes
- Search Intent – Informational, transactional, or commercial motives
This research will validate which topics have worthwhile search volume and demand. Now refine that list by competitive difficulty.
Step 3: Filter by Competitiveness
Assessing competitiveness helps target keywords you can realistically rank for. Metrics to evaluate include:
- Pay-per-click Costs – Higher means more competition
- Keyword Difficulty Scores – Provided by SEO tools
- SERP Analysis – Google results show competitors
- Top-Ranked Domain Relevance – Authoritative sites signal challenges
- High-potential competitive keywords to work towards long-term
- Easier-to-rank keywords with decent volume for short-term wins
Removing uncompetitive dead ends helps allocate your time effectively.
Step 4: Tighten Up Keyword Selection
Further narrow your keyword list by identifying terms closely matching your content and offerings.
- Revisit old content – Find relevant terms you can better optimize for.
- Assess product/service fit – Focus on what you can credibly serve.
- Visualize user intent – Seek precise “micro-intent” keywords.
- Mine competitors’ keywords – Uncover gaps or opportunities in their strategy.
Choose tightly aligned keywords that play directly to your strengths and content.
Step 5: Categorize Keywords by Theme
Now group keywords into buckets around themes like:
- Specific products or services
- Type of user or customer
- Stages in the buyer’s journey
- Topic and content focus
This allows personalized optimization for different audiences, locations, and search intents.
Step 6: Prioritize Target Keyword Lists
With a refined, categorized list, you can now prioritize keywords for focus. Criteria for picking top targets include:
- Search volume – Higher indicates more potential visibility
- Competitiveness – Easier keywords become short-term focus
- Conversion potential – Transactional > informational intent
- Relevance to offerings – Close product/service fit
- Current performance – Existing rankings, traffic, conversions
Create A, B, and C keyword lists so you know which to tackle immediately versus over time.
Step 7: Align Architecture and Content
Now ensure your information architecture and content align to target keywords:
- Site structure -Matches keyword themes and audience needs
- URLs – Include target terms where relevant
- Page titles and headers – Prominently feature keywords
- Content – Contains keywords in natural concentrations
Your website’s structure provides signals to search engines about relevancy for queries. Optimize it for chosen keywords.
Step 8: Promote Keyword-Focused Content
Getting fresh, valuable content in front of searchers and influencers helps improve its rankings and visibility:
- Produce new blog posts, guides, tools for target keywords.
- Update and improve existing pages related to high-potential keywords.
- Promote new content through social, PR, outreach, PPC.
- Build credible external links to keyword-focused content.
Promoting keyword content shows engines it provides value and should rank.
Step 9: Monitor Keyword Performance
Check keyword performance using tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Moz:
- Traffic and conversions from keywords
- Click-through-rates on search listings
- Ranking positions over time
- New keywords driving growth
Analyze results and shift focus to what moves the needle. Rinse and repeat choosing new targets.
Step 10: Refine and Expand Keyword Lists
SEO is iterative. Continuously refine and expand your keywords:
- Remove underperforming keywords with minimal results
- Add newly discovered, relevant keywords with potential
- Target keyword variations and long-tail versions
- Expand keywords for related topics as your site grows
Revisit steps 1-9 on a quarterly basis to capture new opportunities.
Master Keyword Research for SEO Success
With the right approach to identifying and prioritizing keywords, you’ll maximize your likelihood for higher rankings and increased organic traffic.
Don’t skip keyword research. It’s the critical starting point to focusing SEO efforts on terms that matter most to your business.
Perform comprehensive keyword analysis using the methodology above. Let me know if you need help executing – I offer professional keyword research and SEO services tailored to your business goals.