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SEO 101: What is a keyword and how to develop the perfect keyword list

Welcome back to SEO 101! Last month we focused on link building and this month we’re moving on to keywords and the keyword list. It all begins with the words typed into a search box. Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable and high return activities in the search marketing field and ranking for the right keywords can make or break a website. So while SEO takes some time, an effective keyword strategy should work to meet several goals. Here’s how to get started.

Why are keywords important?

Keywords are the ideas and topics that define what your content is about. In terms of SEO, they’re the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines. You want the keywords on your page to be relevant to what people are searching for so they have a better chance of finding your content among the results.

Knowing how to find and effectively use keywords is the most important skill for an effective search marketer. Keywords are the linchpin between what people are searching for and the content you’re providing to fill that need. So you can not only learn which words and phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers as a whole.

Remember, it’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors. Keyword research can also help you predict shifts in demand, respond to changing market conditions and produce the products, services and content that web searchers are actively seeking.

How to start the perfect keyword list

Think like your audience

Selecting the right keyword list can help you target the right audience. To create content that ranks well organically and drives visitors to your site, you need to understand the needs of those visitors, including the language they use and the type of content they seek. Your keywords should match the words and phrases these potential customers would use to find your products and services to see the best success.

Start by writing down the main categories of your business. Then write down the terms or phrases that might fall under each of these categories. Include words or phrases that your customers would use to describe your products and services. For example, if you new homes, you might start off with some basic categories that customers would use like “homes for sale”, then expand your list further by including your brand and services.

Find and select keywords

Now that you’re thinking like your audience, the first step is finding what people search for. Start by building a big list. Gather every keyword that your business would want to appear for. Think outside the structure of your current site and look beyond keywords you currently rank for and knowingly compete for.

Filter keywords

Broad vs. targeted

Keywords can be broad and far-reaching or they can be a more specific combination of several terms, often called long-tail keywords. Singular words have a temptingly high search volume, however they usually have extremely tough competition and can be infuriatingly vague. Whereas long-tail keywords usually have more clearly defined content and less competition, with room for a smaller site to break in and make their mark on the SERPs.

For example, if you choose the keyword “home builder” for your business, while this will have a large amount of search volume, it’s not really relevant or effective if you’re a Perth based home builder and start getting enquiries from Sydney and Melbourne. The sensible option would be to include “Perth” in the keyword, i.e. “home builder Perth”. This will have a much lower search volume, but it will be really well targeted traffic.

Primary vs. secondary vs. other

You’ll generally break your keywords into three groups:

  1. Primary: Think of these are your priority products or services
  2. Secondary: Think of these are your slightly less priority products and services
  3. Other: You can label these are “ignore for now”

Primary keywords are the keywords you want to rank for immediately and are related to your current or near-future business. If you boil down everything on your page – all the images, video, copy, etc. – down to the simple words and phrases, these are your primary keywords. They should have high enough volume to be worth the investment and imply a question you can answer well about a product you sell or a need you can fulfill.

Secondary keywords are the keywords that relate to what your site does. While they don’t necessarily having buying intent, they still have healthy volume and might still be related to your core services. With secondary keywords, the search terms themselves are less competitive and a bit more specific. For example “single storey builds in Perth”. A longer phrase like this is still really relevant but it’s less competitive and therefore easier to gain SEO rankings.

Both primary and secondary keywords can gain you short term results and work towards long term SEO goals and therefore a healthy amount of each should be included in your keyword list.

Do you need help developing your keyword list? At Bang Digital, we have a team of SEO experts with the tools and techniques to have your keywords succeed in the search engines. Get in touch today to find out how to take your website to the next level with SEO.