You know that keyword research is important, but it can be so hard when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of how to choose the right keywords.
In addition to finding the right keyword research tool, you need to learn to integrate your keywords naturally, and locate your best, highest-opportunity keywords in the first place.
Targeting keywords are some of the most critical aspects of on-page SEO, and they can go a long way toward helping your content rank where it’s supposed to. Great content that also ranks well brings about serious ROI.
Fortunately, choosing the right keywords seems harder than it actually is. Let’s dive in.
Knowing How to Choose the Right Keywords: Why the Right Keywords Matter So Much
Think of keywords as the bones of your content.
They structure your headline and meta title, give your content a direction, and help people connect with your material.
In many ways, keywords and keyword research set the stage for the rest of the content creation process. The research you put into finding the correct keywords can easily influence the level of research you’ll put into the rest of the article or blog.
Finally, learning which keyword phrases work and which don’t is an art form, and mastering it will help make you a better content creator. Without the right “bones” your content can’t stand on its own, so it’s critical to ensure you have the right keywords for all of your content.
Because of this, it’s critical to do as much as you can to locate the right keyword phrases and learn to integrate them into your content.
5 Guidelines on How to Choose the Right Keywords for Your Content
Whether you’re writing a blog post or a web page, these five steps will help you choose the right keywords for your written online content.
1. Focus on long-tail keywords first
Long-tail keywords are magic. This is your most important step in knowing how to choose the right keywords.
In addition to the fact that they’re much more targeted than short-tail keywords, long-tail keywords are a great way to locate highly qualified leads who are ready to purchase your product, good, or service.
While it’s true that long-tail keywords often lack the search volume of their short-tail competitors, they’re a great way to weed out disinterested or accidental searchers, and leave yourself and your company with a selection of highly qualified, genuinely interested customers.
As you narrow down your long-tail keywords, keep specificity in mind. Long-tails work best when they’re as targeted and specific as possible, and the more granular you can get with them, the better.
2. Don’t be romanced by massive search numbers
Marketers who are new to the world of keyword research often make the mistake of getting lured in by high monthly search volume. While it may seem smart to opt for the keywords with the highest search volume, this can actually backfire.
Here’s why: while an inexperienced marketer may get excited about the prospect of millions of monthly searches, it’s virtually impossible for a new, little-known company to rank on the first page of Google for the keyword “shoes,” which, according to KWFinder, has 1,220,000 monthly searches.
Because “shoes” is much too broad a keyword, the small company would be smarter to target a long-tail option with a lower monthly search volume. A better option might be “boat shoes for men.”
While this term only has 14,800 monthly searches, it will be much easier to rank for than the high-volume, short term. It will also be easier to make sales to these searchers, since they know exactly what they want to purchase as they begin their search.
3. Use a solid keyword research tool
A high quality keyword research tool (like KWFinder or SEMrush, our favorites) is critical when it comes to locating your best keywords. In addition to the fact that a tool like this will give you several metrics – ranging from keyword difficult to PPC and SEO competition – these powerful tools will also allow you to save keywords to lists and compare them later.
For the best results, consider using several tools and compiling the results in a spreadsheet. You can even make multiple tabs to group your keywords together.
This allows you to compare and contrast the results of different keyword databases, and understand the unique results of each platform. It also allows you to choose more effective keywords based on various approaches and information.
4. Fit your keyword phrase into your headline
Real talk: don’t fit your headline around your keyword phrase. Fit your keyword into your headline.
Readability comes first. But if you want to rank well for a given keyword, it needs to feature in your headline.
With this in mind, try writing a few sample headlines around your chosen target phrase. Write more than one till you come up with one that you really like.
Example: for this post, our keyword was “how to choose the right keywords.” Here’s what we could have done:
- How to Choose the Right Keywords (a keyword as long-tail as this could stand alone, but that’s not good enough – albeit close)
- Your Guide on How to Choose the Right Keywords (eh, heard it before)
- How to Choose the Right Keywords to Optimize Your Content With
The last one is a winner. Double-checking it in the AMI headline scorer, we see it ranks above 50%, which is an excellent score:
So, have a goal of creating a headline that utilizes your keyword, but is first and foremost optimized for the reader.
If you have a difficult time finding something that doesn’t sound awkward, you may need to reconsider your approach. Keep in mind that you can include stop words in awkward keyword phrases to make them flow more naturally. This is a much better approach than just forcing grammatically incorrect keyword phrases into content, and can help make your material more readable for your audiences.
5. Make sure the overall topic of your content is an actual match for your keyword
In some cases, you can get so desperate to use a really promising keyword that you forget that your content needs to read well and be relevant to your audience. Instead of trying to cram a keyword into your content, be sure that it fits naturally, and that the keyword and the topic are actually meant for one another.
If you can’t find a way to make this work, consider altering your keyword slightly, or looking for a different topic to accommodate the keyword you’ve chosen. To be readable and relevant, your content needs to flow together with your keyword. If both feel like they’re working in opposition, you’re in for a difficult writing experience.
Want more in-depth content on how to select the right keywords? One entire chapter in my new book, So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing, is dedicated to this subject!
How to Find Keywords that Win: The Bones of Great Content
For your content to truly excel and stand out in Google, your keywords need to be on point. Unfortunately, this is very difficult for many marketers. Luckily, you can turn the trend around if you know how to find keywords that will work for your content.
By understanding what makes a good keyword phrase, and knowing how to research and approach great keywords, you can easily include quality keywords in your content and ensure that everything you write has the strong, sturdy bones it needs to succeed.