Choosing the right keywords is essential for long term SEO success. The keywords you target on your site will determine what searches your site will be pulled into the SERPs for and what kind of searcher will find your site.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself to help ensure you are targeting the right keywords:
1. Are these keywords my target audience is using?
Gym shoes, tennis shoes or sneakers—some might say they are all basically the same thing while others would argue they are very different types of footwear and are to be used in very different situations. Which keywords is your target audience using? One common mistake I see many sites make is they think they know the right keywords but they don’t actually take user intent into account. Can someone search for the same thing in different ways? Can someone search for different things using the same keywords? In order to target the right keywords you need to ensure you’re using keywords that your audience is using, not just those you think are the most important.
If you don’t target the keywords your target audience uses to search how will they ever find your site?
2. Are these the most targeted keywords possible?
Another common keyword research mistake I see is when site owners get blinded by search volume. Insurance might get 20 million searches each month, but you don’t just sell “insurance;” you sell flood insurance, or small business insurance, or auto insurance. Keep in mind that the more search volume a keyword has the more competition there is going to be for it, so the harder it will be to do well. More targeted and long tail keywords might have fewer searches each month but they are typically used by searches that are farther along in their buying cycle and closer to conversion. In order to target the right keywords you want to zero in on the most targeted keywords possible, especially on internal pages.
3. Are these keywords the appropriate industry jargon?
While it’s important that you target keywords your audience is actually using, you don’t want to forget about the industry jargon and terminology that comes with your industry. In theory, I could decide to stop call it SEO and start calling myself a Google Exposure and Deliverability Expert, but does that really mean anything? Would anyone take me seriously? Certainly not other SEO people and probably not my clients either. Even if you don’t know much about SEO, you at least know that it’s called SEO. While making yourself stand out is good, don’t completely forgo the industry jargon in favor of doing it “your way.” Even if you are trying to create a new lingo and bring it into the mainstream (like HubSpot did with “inbound marketing”) you can’t completely ignore the way things are.
4. Do these keywords accurately reflect the content on the page?
You need to conduct keyword research on a page-by-page basis and the keywords you choose need to accurately reflect the content of that page! I know it can be tempting to use the same short list of keywords throughout your site, but if the same keywords are truly the best fit for several pages of content then you probably don’t need the multiple pages. The right keywords should fit on one page only.