One of the most effective ways to grow a business or brand online is through search engine optimization (SEO). For those that are experienced in the digital marketing space should be very familiar with this terminology. But for those that are unfamiliar I will give a brief explanation. SEO refers to the process of making changes to increase a website’s likelihood of being ranked for relevant searches within search engines such as Google or Bing. The higher your website ranking, the more organic traffic your website gains. Your probably asking yourself, how do you use this SEO to rank your own website? The answer is Keywords, just below we are going to break down How to choose your first SEO keywords.

What are SEO Keywords?

Keywords correspond to word(s) or phrases that users search for on Google or other search engines. These information retrieval systems break down the searches based on these keywords; in order to find the relevant content that matches the keyword. This process has enabled digital marketers to optimize websites around specific keywords to attract more traffic, brand awareness and sales. Keywords are a vital tool that should be implemented into any website looking to become a successful online business.

seo keywords

Types of Keywords

Head Keywords

Head keywords refer to large scale topics that are broad and far reaching. These keywords are typically short phrases that have high competition. For example. if you owned a motorcycle dealership some head keywords could include “bikes” “motorbikes” “vehicle dealership”. As you can see all of these are very vague and broad. The advantage to using such broad keywords is that the net you are casting to catch your audience is significantly bigger. Allowing your website to gain significantly more organic traffic.

Long-tail Keywords

These types of keywords are typically conversational in nature and tend to be longer phrases, hence the name “long-tail”. Long-tail keywords usually have very low competition because they are so specific. When it comes to short term strategy these long-tail keywords are will help your site rank high for very specific searches.

For example, referring back to our motorcycle dealership, let’s imagine that our dealership is in Ontario, Canada. Some example long-tail keywords could include: “Motorcycle Dealership in Ontario”, “Best Motorcycle Dealerships in Ontario, Canada” or say you are specifically a Harley Davidson dealership “Harley Davidson Dealership in Ontario”. These are just some basic examples, there are a vast amount of long-tail keywords that are applicable.

seo keywords

Proper SEO Utilize Both

A proper SEO campaign should incorporate both Long-tail and head keywords. Long-tail keywords will allow your website to start generating organic traffic from very specific searches. As your website continues to grow and gain more traffic, your rank will begin to increase for head keywords. Long-tail keywords are the short term strategy, while head keywords are the long term goal. Both generate organic traffic; however head keywords generate significantly more searches per month because of how broad they are.

Conducting Keyword Research

The toughest part about ranking for keywords is finding the hidden gems that no one has utilized. Just below we are going to go over some helpful strategies as well as some tools you can implement into your SEO keywords research to ensure you get the best possible keywords for your website.

seo keywords

Preliminary Research

Brain Dump: This is a term that refers to purging all the ideas and concepts that come to mind when thinking of your business. Try to write down all the possibilities you can think of for what users might search to find your business. They can be as broad or specific as you like. I prefer to be exhaustive and creative in this step because I don’t want to miss anything. It helps to put yourself in the mindset of the users and not as a business trying to reach out.

Topic/Keyword Generators: One of the best tools to implement into your Keyword planning is topic/keyword generators. These are tools typically implemented by search engines that generate keywords similar to the phrases or words you input. This is extremely helpful for marketers that hit the creative wall and can’t think of strong keywords. The best thing about these services is the analytical data that comes with them. We will talk more about the analytics further down this page. Some of the best keyword planners that I utilize is Google Keyword Planner or Moz Keyword Explorer.

seo keywords

Narrowing Down the List

After you have exhausted all your research for keywords, it’s time to start narrowing down the list using the data analytics that the we received from our keyword planners. Take a look at some of the metrics we use to narrow down our keywords:

Search Volume:

This is quite possibly the most important metric because without search volume there is no reason to try to rank for that keyword. The volume metric is typically broken down into monthly search volume. This will give you a good understanding of what people are searching for on a monthly basis. The higher the search volume the higher the competition. Typically, the head keywords have the most volume, while long-tail keywords have less volume.


After seeing the search volume for specific keywords it is imperative to check the competition. Competition refers to the number of other websites looking to rank for that specific keyword. As we know head keywords have high search volume, thus more websites are trying to rank for those specific keywords. Making the ability to rank for those specific keywords highly competitive. As a new website with little domain authority, content or keywords ranking for these competitive head keywords is going to be next to impossible. It is best to utilize the stair stepping method. Use lower competition keywords to gain a foothold for your ascent to the highly competitive head keywords.


This is not a metric that we can see analytically; we must rather think about it intuitively. Sure some keywords may have high search volume with low competition; but is the keyword going to generate “relevant” traffic to your website? The goal of SEO Keywords is to rank as high as possible to generate highly targeted organic traffic. This will in turn lead to an increase in brand awareness and sales.

Current Rankings:

It would behoove any digital marketer to check the websites current keyword rankings. There could be some similar keywords that your website already ranks for. Use the momentum of your prior rankings to assist in future rankings.

seo keywords

Pick the Top Candidates

After you have narrowed down your list to a select few it’s time to start putting them into action! This means creating content based around these keywords. As more traffic starts to come in, search engines will start to take notice and begin ranking your content or website based off the keyword you chose!

The content created should hold value and not be subject to keyword stuffing. What most marketers don’t know, is that search engines actually read the content. That’s right! Your content is actually being viewed and analyzed by real people working for these search engines. Many people believe that they can manipulate the algorithm that search engines use. However, the goal of a search engine is to provide valuable and relative content to users. If your content is not up to par do not expect it to rank high.

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