How to Choose Keywords for Your Website SEO Strategy

Your website is your most powerful, flexible, cost-effective sales and marketing tool, a cornerstone of your business’s success. Well, that is, if people can find it …

You probably already know that Search Engine Optimisation, or “SEO”, the techniques that help your website being ranked higher by search engines such as Google, relies on ‘keywords’. That is all very well, but how do you actually find out which keywords are relevant to your business and are searched for to help you with your SEO strategy?

You will be relieved to hear that you don’t have to gaze into a crystal ball or have a total guess. There are online tools that can help you.


SEO Keywords Research


It’s NOT all About You, You know!

The fascinating thing about keywords is that what YOU think potential customers would type in the search bar to find a business like yours is actually rarely accurate. And, well, it is what THEY search for that actually matters.

But Where to Start? 

It’s best to have a brainstorming session about what your customers may type in when they are searching, at least to get you started. We call these “seed keywords” – they help us with ideas and to get the ball rolling.

So start by compiling a list of a few keywords that you think people would use, for each webpage, and then go to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. You don’t have to create an account to check the number of monthly searches, you can get started right away. This invaluable free online service will tell you how many searches were conducted in New Zealand (or whatever country you are researching- under ‘local’) and worldwide (‘global’) on your chosen keyword, but even more useful, it will suggest keywords closely related to your search, which will often yield unexpected results!

Here’s what the tool looks like, populated for “red shoes”, location = New Zealand, English language.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool Screenshot

And here are some of the example keywords that the tool spits out, with levels of competition, average global and local search numbers:

But Which Keywords to Choose?

80% of people use 2 or 3 ‘significant’ words (not including prepositions etc) as a search phrase to start with, and may, if they are not seeing what they want, increase to 4 to 6 keywords. So you want to choose keywords 2-5 words long.

The other criterion to look at is the competition index, still in the keyword tool. Google ranks each search term from 0 to 1, with 0 being the least competitive to 1 the most. They show as Low, Medium and High, but if you download the results, you will get numbers.

The ideal keyword is one that has a reasonable number of searches, but a medium to low competition index (no more than 0.70). Although it is very tempting to target a keyword with hundreds of thousands of searches, if it is a highly competitive term, it is unlikely that you will ever rank well on it. Additionally, a lot of these terms may not convert as well into enquiries or sales, so it is often better to begin by targeting longer keywords (known as the “long tail”), as experience shows that the conversion rate from visitors to prospects and clients is higher for these more specific search terms. 

Last … But Not Least

Other strategies that can give good results as well are:

Check for singular and plural variations of your search terms, compound names hyphenated or spelt as two words. There are sometimes huge differences in results
– Think about common misspellings. You may not like it, but introducing spelling mistakes in your website could be very successful
– Likewise, think about terms incorrectly used. For example, ‘hang gliding’ is often mistakenly called ‘hand gliding’

Happy hunting!