Four steps to choosing your SEO keywords

Keywords are the words and phrases that people trying to find a product or service like yours will type into Google (other search engines are available). You need to make sure that these words are included in the content of your website – check this Web 20 content to get a clue.

Not sure what your keywords are? Here’s a four step guide to finding out.

Step one: brainstorm a list of keywords

Brainstorm all the words and phrases associated with your business and what you do. Don’t worry about how many you’ve got at this stage – the more the merrier.

You might also like to ask your customers for their input too. What keywords would they use to find you? You might be surprised at the answers!

Step two: refine your list of keywords

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and look at each word or phrase on your list in turn. Ask yourself: “If I was my customer, would I type this into Google to find me?” There are three right answers:

  • Yes
  • No
  • Only if it’s combined with another word or phrase on the list.

If the answer is “yes”, keep it on the list. If it’s “no”, delete it. If it’s “only if it’s combined with another word or phrase on the list”, then combine it with that word or phrase.

Once you’ve completed this exercise, look at your list again and see how many keywords you’ve got.

If the list is still huge, there are two reasons for this. You’re either running a multinational business with hundreds of products and services. Or you’ve got too many keywords on the list. Around 10 – 12 words or phrases is fine for the average site. If you’ve got less than that don’t worry. If you’ve got more, go through the process again and try to whittle the list down.

Step three: Google your list of keywords

The next step is to check your keywords on Google. Enter each word or phrase and take a look at the results. If your direct competitors appear in the results you’ve got a good keyword. If there are completely unrelated results, ask yourself if you’re really using the right keyword.

Step four: check your list of keywords

Now it’s time to check you haven’t missed any obvious keywords. I like to use Google’s Keyword Planner to do this. You enter your keyword and Google makes suggestions of other keywords you might like to consider.

And one final tip – think quality not quantity

Throughout this process, keep in mind that search engine rankings are extremely competitive. You want to be fighting against as few people as possible, so make your keywords as specific as possible. (Think “fuel efficient and funky city cars” rather than “city cars” or “cars”.)

You don’t want everyone to visit your site, just want the people who are most likely to buy from you. Making sure your keywords are as specific as possible will make sure you’re attracting the people most likely to buy from you and help you get better results from your website in the long term.

For more practical tips on SEO, go to

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