Weekly SEO: What’s in a Keyword?

In this edition of Weekly SEO, we’re going to teach you how to write and research great keywords. As we mentioned last week, keywords are the heart and soul of SEO. They’re what people type into Google to find you, and what you need to track and manage in order to drive users to your site. Not all keywords are created equal, however. Here are our tips for choosing great keywords to focus on.

Don’t be vague

At first, vague keywords can seem like a good idea. After all, if you sell coffee, for instance, surely you’d want to appear in Google when someone searches the term ‘coffee’. It makes intuitive sense, but unfortunately that’s just not how SEO works. Vague keywords don’t work well because they face such steep competition. Think about it: if you’re a local startup trying to drive up sales of your fire-roasted coffee beans, the keyword ‘coffee’ is just too big for you to rank. Big companies like Starbucks and Tim Hortons will beat you to the top of the list every time. Reference sites like Wikipedia will rank over you. It’s just not feasible to win big keywords, at least not right away. Instead, try…

Laser-focusing your keywords

That’s right. To build a wide audience, you need to start small. It makes sense, really. Let’s say you’ve just started your coffee company. Chances are, you’ve opened a single location, or started working from home. There’s no sense targeting any customers outside your immediate surroundings. ‘Coffee’, or ‘coffee sales’ remain bad keywords. ‘Kelowna coffee roasting’ might be a far better one. Sure, the total scope of users you’ll reach is tiny compared to a big, broad keyword, but the quality of those users is far higher, in terms of sales leads. Someone who searches ‘Kelowna coffee roasting’ is almost definitely local, obviously interested in coffee, and likely looking to purchase some. In fact, you could go even more specific: ‘kelowna local roasted coffee sales’ is an intensely specific keyword, but guess what? Pretty close to 100% of people who search that term want to buy what you’re selling. Plus, there’s far fewer websites competing for first-page results with such a narrow keyword. Now you’ve got a target you can realistically hit!

Do your homework

A big part of SEO is keyword research. In order to target your content and marketing and maximize your success, you need to be checking out your competitors, finding those laser-focused keywords, and experimenting with outside-the-box ideas. Fortunately, there are tools to help you. While many are paid services, like Moz Pro, tons of websites and browser plugins exist to help you find the right keyword. These online tools can show you valuable metrics like keyword difficulty (how hard it is to beat your competitors on a given keyword), search volume (how many monthly hits a keyword receives), and opportunity, which evaluates how high the click-through-rate is for that keyword. Using these tools, you can begin assembling lists of keywords for specific situations or marketing campaigns, and produce content accordingly.