How to Choose the Keywords to Target for SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is built on keywords. When Google and other search engines rank websites according to relevancy, a lot of their criteria focuses on the presence of keywords and keyword synonyms. If you target, or focus on, the same keywords that your readers are searching for, you have a greater chance of showing up in their search results.

Fortunately, choosing the right keywords isn’t a mystery. We’ve found three excellent free SEO tools that will help you choose the right keywords for each blog post.

What is SEO?

In our introduction to SEO, we explained how Google and other search engines crawl the web with bots known as spiders. These bots search web pages and index them according to relevancy using complex algorithms. Keywords (including keyword synonyms) are one of the most important things that the Google spiders are looking for.

How do you know which Google keywords you should target?

The great thing about blogging is that each post can target a different keyword. If you’re really ambitious, you can even target multiple keywords in the same blog post! However, I recommend focusing on one keyword or phrase per post to avoid keyword stuffing.

When I started blogging, everyone recommended using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to figure out your SEO keywords. However, that’s no longer considered a best practice for several reasons. First, Google completely redesigned the tool and secured it in such a way that you have to pay for ads in order to access it. Worse still, some expert content marketers have found that the information in the Adwords Planner is inconsistent with data shown in Google Trends and other tools. So it’s probably best to avoid using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner for SEO research.

We’ve found the three best free SEO tools. 

Instead of using the Google keywords tool,  there are a few other proven free SEO tools you can use.

Google Trends is a free tool that can be used to help identify Google keywords. Simply search your topic on Google Trends and the system will show you a history of interest over time, interest by region and related topics and queries. Although Google Trends is helpful for analyzing when a certain keyword is popular and identifying a list of related keywords, it does not show you how many times that particular term is searched for.

Moz Keyword Explorer is my favorite keyword tool. Search a keyword you are writing about and the system will reveal the monthly search volume for that keyword as well as alternative keyword suggestions. The system also shows the anticipated difficulty of ranking for that keyword and the organic click-through rate. Those two metrics are factored into the priority score, which is a visual representation of how desirable that keyword is. A keyword with a low level of difficulty and a high click-through rate will receive a high priority score. The closer the priority is to 100, the better it is to use!

The free version will give you 10 free queries per month. This definitely doesn’t seem like much but it’s the best keyword search tool I’ve found. For $99, you can sign up for a Premium Plan that allows you up to 150 keyword searches. I highly recommend it!

KW Finder is another one of my favorites. This tool identifies long tail keywords, which are several words long and usually easier to rank for than short phrases. For example, “dairy-free chocolate recipes” has less competition than just “recipes.” Makes sense, right?

KW Finder will help you identify how frequently a certain keyword is searched, the approximate difficulty for ranking for that word and a long list of alternate suggestions. The interface will also show you which sites are currently showing on the search engine results page for this particular keyword.

I’m a big fan of pursuing long tail keywords, so I highly recommend using KW Finder. The free version allows you to conduct five free searches per day. For $49 per month, you can upgrade to the Basic version which allows up to 100 searches per 24 hours.

How do I know which keyword is best?

Remember, the best keywords are the ones that are searched often and have little competition. Sometimes, a slight variation in word order or phrasing can make a tremendous difference. The goal is to rank high on Google to gather that search traffic, so meet your readers with the keywords they are using.

Now that you’ve identified the perfect keyword, let’s put it to work. Click here to find out exactly what you should do with that keyword now that you’ve found it.

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