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SEO 101: How to Pick the Best Keywords for Your Content

seo 101You understand the importance of creating your own content, and you've been told that your content needs to feature keywords aimed at reaching your audience. But with several different factors to consider, choosing those organic search keywords can be overwhelming.

For small- and medium-sized businesses, SEO often requires working around the keywords dominated by larger, authoritative websites that have already established a foothold on the search terms you're chasing. But even with limited resources and a minimal existing digital footprint, marketers can create organic traffic opportunities just by doing a little extra research.

Choose Keywords Relevant to Your Audience

The first step is all about brainstorming. Make a long list of keywords that reflect the intersection of your audience's interests and your business interests. Think about the types of search queries that a prospective customer might perform. If you own a running shoes business, for example, you would build a list of keywords related to running shoes, including brands, different shoes for different terrains and even foot pain or injuries that could be addressed through a new pair of shoes.

It might help to look around at competitor content to see what similar businesses are optimizing for, and how they've approached reaching an online audience.

Run Keywords Through Online Research Tools

Once you have a stockpile of potential keywords, take advantage of free online tools that will provide insights into the competitiveness, search volume and search traffic generated by each term. Google Keyword Planner is one of the most popular tools and it's free for anyone to use, making it a favorite among SMBs. Run each keyword through these tools to determine their value.

Google Trends is another free tool that can be great for determining how popular a search term is over time and within your region. For example, we can see that searches for running shoes are most popular in New York and Vermont. By using the tool's related topics and related queries, you can also find popular search terms you may not have come up with on your own like best running shoes for men, best trail running shoes, and so on.

Choose the Path of Least Resistance

Competitiveness matters. Large search volumes might look nice on the outside, but they're also likely to be much more competitive, making it harder to rank through organic search. Try to identify relevant, long-tail searches such as best trail running shoes for backpacking. These terms may have low search volume but are often less competitive. Search Engine Journal suggested giving relevance the highest priority. If a keyword phrase is a perfect match for your audience, don't worry about search volume. Choose quality over quantity.

Review Results and Revise Accordingly

No keyword strategy is perfect from the outset. Pay attention to your content's performance and adjust strategy where necessary. If you're getting high bounce rates from organic search, you might be targeting the wrong keywords. By contrast, if one keyword is generating traffic that's creating new leads or interactions, it's worth steering future content toward those keyword terms in hopes of strengthening your SEO position.

Search engine optimization is a constant game of tweaking and refinement, but perseverance and thorough research will help you uncover opportunities to build a stronger SEO presence.

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