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The Art of Choosing the Right SEO Keywords

Search engine optimization (SEO) is more of an art than a science. Yes, there are best practices and several clear standards for SEO that make it seem like a science. However, when it comes to many aspects of SEO, you need a skilled yet creative approach.

Choosing the right SEO terms requires creativity, knowledge of your company’s core products or services, your audience and insight into your company’s sales process. The SEO strategy that works for one company in a particular industry may not work for a competitor.

Here, we look at choosing the right SEO keywords for a B2B content marketing and website strategy. After reading this article, you should have a better idea of what will work for your company for SEO terms (and what to avoid).

Generally, when choosing SEO keywords for your optimization and marketing strategy, you should keep a few things in mind:

  • A mix of broad (but not too broad) and specific terms
  • Pay attention to the research
  • Is anyone searching for that?
  • What are the buying terms?
  • What is the user’s intent for that search?

Now, let’s break these ideas down.

Broad + Specific Keywords

An effective SEO strategy will include terms and keyword groupings that are both general and more specific in nature. The thought process behind this is to capture terms that have a larger number of monthly searches (for broader terms) while also focusing on specific terms that only knowledgeable users (hopefully prospects) are searching.

Example of a broad search phrase: web design

Example of a specific search phrase: web design for accounting firms

Read about common SEO Myths.

The SEO Research Matters

There are a variety of SEO tools you can use to perform keyword research to determine the average volume of monthly searches and the competition for those terms. A favorite is Google’s Keyword Planner. If you are using a paid SEO tool like Moz, they are likely pulling data from Google anyhow, but a tool like Moz will provide even more actionable data. Never craft an SEO strategy that doesn’t rely on research. If you work with an experienced SEO company, they will do the research on your behalf.

The Search Term or Phase Must Have Search Volume

Research is critical in choosing the right keywords because you want keywords that have a decent volume of search, but that are also relevant to your particular industry or the products/services your company sells. If a keyword phrase doesn’t have any search volume, you can still include it in your keyword groupings as a secondary focus.

Buying Terms for SEO

This concept is a little bit more abstract but is essential for SEO strategies that are looking to drive traffic and generate leads. Buying terms for B2B content marketing and web design projects should include terms that potential prospects are using to search for the products or services you sell.

Example of a buying phrase: web design firm

Example of non-buying terms: web design examples

The difference between the two is that the buying term will likely be searched by a prospect who is actively in a buying stage, whereas the non-buying term will be searched by a prospect who may be in a research phase.

User Intent for SEO

What is information is the user is looking to get from their search on Google, Bing, or any other search engine? This is their intent. Is the user looking to see examples of web designs, learn what web design is, or are they looking to find an agency that offers web design services?

This is a quick introduction to choosing the right SEO keywords but should be helpful when you work with an SEO specialist so you can understand the process and provide helpful feedback and input about your company’s ideal prospects.

Common Mistakes in SEO Keyword Selection

We’ve discussed what to do when choosing keyword terms, phrases, and groupings. Here is a quick overview of common mistakes companies make when choosing the SEO terms for their strategy.

When choosing SEO keywords, don’t:

  • Pick terms that are way too broad (ex. software, consulting, resources).
  • Ignore the research and “go with your gut.”
  • Accept what an SEO specialist not familiar with your business suggests if it doesn’t seem like the right fit or you don’t offer those types of products or services. Remember their specialty is SEO, not your particular company’s offerings.
  • Pick terms that don’t make sense on the page. Be sure that the terms you select match the topic of the page to pay off the searcher’s intent.
  • Get stuck on terms that aren’t searched or have no volume. You can always include these terms as secondary terms in your strategy, but if no one is searching a term, no one will go to your website.
  • Avoid being adventurous. If you aren’t sure if a particular term is right for your prospects and it seems viable – try it out! If you want to test a term or phrase, try it out on a limited budget with a Google or Bing CPC campaign.
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