Picking your SEO keywords is the most important thing you can do for your website. Pick right and you will get a flood of targeted traffic, pick wrong and you will get a flood of bad traffic, or worse….just crickets. That's right, you could put up a site (or redo your current one) and no one will come.
Before you do any kind of work on your website, products or sales materials, you need to know what SEO keywords to target so here goes!
Big Or Small
Your probably know what your industry is about so you have your biggest keyword right in front of your face. Some top level keywords include:
It can feel like your life would be complete if you could just rank for one of these words. You would get so many customers and sell so much! But hold your horses, that is not really true. Say you were to rank #1 for a term like “Business”. This is what this search result looks like:
While I would love to think that I could outrank Forbes and Bloomberg for business, it probably is not going to happen! That said, it is important to have a place to start so I would make a list of 10 or so top level keywords for your business or sections of your business.
Top Level Keywords Pro Tip:
If you already have a website of any kind, you can get a list like this easily from the Google Webmaster Tools. Just log in go to Google Index > Content Keywords and you will get a big list of keywords.
This shows what Google already thinks your website is about. These are a really good starting point to figuring out what you should try and rank for!
Long Tail Keywords
So now we know, we need more than just one keyword to try to rank for (a keyword phrase). These are called long tail keywords and account for almost all of the traffic that I get to my website from Google. While it is impossible to compete with Forbes for business, I can rock some Realtor Marketing keywords and get great traffic!
The best way to get a start on your long tail keywords is to use the Google search page and see what they suggest in the dropdown bar. Sometimes this is a goldmine and sometimes it is blah, like this one is.
But never fear! Do your search for your main keyword and then scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and see what Google suggests at the bottom. Doing this search for “realtor marketing” which is one of my target phrases shows that I could write posts about “realtor marketing ideas”, “realtor marketing plan”, or even “realtor marketing strategies”.
And this is how the long tail of search works. Instead of trying to rank for realtor or realtor marketing, I write 10 posts that have realtor marketing in them, but they are about something specific related to my search term. Because that “sub” keyword is in there (realtor marketing), I will get rankings for it automatically, but really my short term goal is to rank for “realtor marketing strategies”.
When you have a good ranking for a whole bunch of those long tail keywords you will start to rank for the higher keywords in Google search.
How Many Main Keywords Do You Need?
For your main site keywords I like to target just three different keywords. Back in the good old days you could get a website to rank for all different kinds of keywords, but now-a-days for normal folks it is best to stick with three top level keywords that you want to shoot for. Mine are Realtor Marketing, Entrepreneur Marketing, Author Marketing and Etsy Marketing (I know that is 4 but my site is older so I can branch off a bit).
For a local site you might want to do three local keywords like Denver Lawyer, Denver Attorney, Denver Law. While those might be hard to rank for, you could start to build them up by adding more keywords to the mix.
Three that jump out at me are “denver criminal lawyer”, “denver immigration lawyer” and “denver real estate lawyer”. Now those might not be your specialities, but you get the drift!
That said, you don't have to be so careful about using those local keywords in all of your posts because Google does know your geographic location. For example, if you do a search in Kansas City for “hotdog carts”, Google will not show you ones in New York City.
Most of us are not dependent entirely on local search traffic. I can sell my forms and courses to anyone in the world so I am more focused on targeting my clients' and customers' search terms. This is a little harder. You are competing on a national level for keywords but there are much higher search volumes too so it sort of evens out in the end.
Sales Keywords Pro Tip:
You might find some keywords that are great and easy to rank for, but which aren't so good for selling your products or services. I could do a lot of posts about “Author Websites” but since I don't actually make author websites or have an affiliate link for author websites, that might not be the best way for me to go.
I have found that ranking for the wrong keywords is a real penalty to my business because then I have to work twice as hard to rank well for keywords I actually can sell things for. While I do rank well for Realtor Website keywords, I spend a lot of time and energy doing work that is not exactly what I like because of it. Just be aware of that when picking your keywords.
How Many “Sub” Keywords Do You Need?
I am shooting for targeting and tracking 50 sub keywords total for my site. Because I have 4 main keywords I am going to have about 12 sub keywords for each of my main keywords. If you have 3 main keywords you could do 15-20 each.
These are the ones that will add up to the main keyword for me. So my 12 sub keywords for “Etsy Marketing” are:
SEO For Etsy Sellers
Etsy Marketing Strategy
Etsy Marketing Tools
Etsy Marketing Tips
Marketing Your Etsy Shop
Etsy Marketing SEO
Selling On Etsy
Etsy Marketing Ideas
Etsy Marketing Plan
Easy Etsy Marketing
As you can see, many of these have “Etsy Marketing” in the keyword, but some don't. As you sift and sort through potential keywords you may want to find ones that are associated with your target words but not exactly the same.
How Much Traffic Should They Get?
Okay this is a big part of the equation! If you pick 12 words that don't get any traffic at all you could have lots of number one rankings but very little actual traffic so you want to check the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to see how much traffic each of them receives. you do have to make an account to access this, it is worth it!
So here are the search volume results for my “Etsy Marketing” keywords:
As you can see, only “Selling On Etsy” gets any sort of high volume traffic (a keyword with over 5,000 searches a month is a great one to target with your long tail keywords). That said, my post on Esty SEO got 342 hits last month so there is some kind of interest there.
This is a real conundrum for many of us. What we want to target doesn't have the highest search volume but it does match what we are good at. These numbers don't scare me because if I can get enough search terms ranked then I can get the majority of traffic for these terms.
I would shoot for between 1,200 and 5,000 searches a month as a minimum for at least a few of your keywords. And please remember, just because a term says there is “0” traffic, it doesn't make it a bad term if it EXACTLY matches what you are trying to sell. It just means that the search volume is low.
How Much Competition Do They Have?
Last but not least, let's take a peek at how many people are competing with you for your keyword. If we look at the highest searched Etsy keyword we see there are 307,000 competing websites with that exact phrase in the title. Zoinks… there is no way I am going to write one little blog post and rank for this keyword. In fact, I don't rank in the top 100 results for it (yet!)
But if we look at “Etsy SEO” there are only 31,500 competing results and I rank on Page #1, Position #8 for that keyword. That is something I can work with and try to get moved up by writing more posts about Etsy SEO, sharing it on social media and even promoting it if I have guest posts on other blogs!
While you should not let a little competition (anywhere under 100,000 competing sites is okay with me) dissuade you from choosing a keyword to target, just understand that moving a site out of that position will not be easy. Many of the sites that rank highly for strong keywords have old domains and a history of having that kind of content.
How To Write High Ranking Blog Posts
Learn all the steps to having a perfect SEO Sandwich and see how to do more of what we talked about today in the 15 minute bonus video!
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Look Over My Shoulder
When I got done doing the research for my Etsy Marketing Keywords I had to do some more searching so I thought, hey my peeps might like to see how I do this in real life! This is not a polished video, just me walking through what I actually do to find SEO Keywords that I would like to rank for in the coming year.