- There's a lot of data available to us about the keywords people are typing into search engines. And it's important to be able to evaluate the different attributes of a keyword before we decide whether or not to target one with our SEO strategy. There are three key things you'll need to consider when choosing your keywords. Relevance, search volume, and competition. Let's start with relevance. The first thing you need to do when you're deciding whether a keyword is relevant to your business is ask yourself one simple question.
Does the keyword you found accurately reflect the nature of the products and services that you offer? If so, you've nailed it. Remember, the number one objective of a search engine is to find and deliver the most relevant content to its users for a given search term. The best way to understand your customers' search behavior is to put yourself in their shoes and really try to get at their intent. If you were in the market to buy a car, how would you use a search engine? You probably wouldn't type the word car in and click search.
Instead, you'd use something very specific to what you're looking for. Like, used late model Toyota Camry. Now, if you're selling late model used Toyota Camrys and have a page on your website dedicated to them, then that is a relevant keyword. And the best part about relevant keywords is that they're much more likely to drive conversion actions on your website than more generic ones. The second item to look at is search volume. While used late model Toyota Camry might be extremely relevant to your business and likely to lead to an eventual sale, it's also not typed in to a search engine all that often.
Search volume is the number of searches being done for a particular keyword. And if you use a tool like the Moz Keyword Explorer, WordStream, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer or SEMRush Keyword Magic, it's represented as the potential monthly search volume. If you have a seasonal business or if you want to take a look at trends over time, many of these tools break down keywords volume seasonally, and you'll also want to take a look at Google Trends, where you can look at time periods, going all the way back to 2004.
Now let's have a look at competition. Keyword competition, or keyword difficulty, as it's often called, is just a measure of how difficult it's going to be for us to rank a keyword in front of our competition on a search engine results page. Unless you're introducing a brand new product or technology into the market, you're probably going to find content similar to yours already on the web. And we can look at things like the number of pages about a given topic, authority and trust of the websites competing with you, back links to their sites and more to really understand the competitive space for a given keyword.
And again, many of the great tools mentioned earlier can help you really dig into some of these competitive metrics. For now, let's take a look at the Moz tool to dive in a little deeper. Here's a keyword list I've created around iPhone cases. This tool makes it easy for us to see where we can get the most bang for our buck by looking for the most potential traffic at the lowest levels of competition. And if we want to get a feel for the specific competitors you might be up against, we can drill deeper into the SERP analysis report.
This kind of analysis can give us a gut check and a realistic look at just what it would take for us to rank for a keyword we're researching. Another way to look at competition is by evaluating the keyword in page search or cost per click markets. Looking at how actively and aggressively search advertisers are bidding on a keyword can be a good proxy for just how difficult a keyword is going to be on the organic side. And if you have an active Google Ads account, the Google keyword planner has a competition column, as well as bid information, that can help.
While the competition metric gives you only low, medium, or high ratings, you can also look at the high and low bid ranges to get a sense of how competitive keywords are in the page search market. And don't forget, you can customize and filter right here in the interface. And you can also download these lists to work with in a tool like Excel. Let's tie it all together by going back over this quick example with respect to the three pillars of keyword research. Relevance, volume, and competition. We saw how terms like used late model Toyota Camry would actually be considered much more relevant to a company selling used late model Toyota Camrys than a generic word, like car.
And on the competition side, we saw just how competitive those generic terms like car can be. We can also clearly see the trade off between search volume against relevance and competition. And hopefully you're now seeing that for many organizations, finding lots and lots of these specific types of keywords that don't get a lot of search volume, but are very relevant and not as competitive, can be a solid strategy to guide their SEO efforts. Often, if you add up all those relevant, less competitive keywords together, you'll find that you can be attracting lots and lots of highly relevant, likely to convert visitors, to your website.
So let your competitors spend all their budgets going after the keyword car, and let your keyword research be your guide as you balance how to get as much relevant search volume as you possibly can with the least competition.
- Define search engine optimization.
- Explore the fundamentals of reading search engine results pages.
- Examine the essentials of understanding keyword attributes.
- Break down the steps for optimizing the non-text components of a webpage.
- Recognize how search engines index context.
- Explore an overview of long-term content planning strategies and how they can help keep content on your site fresh.
- Define your website’s audience, topics, angle, and style when mapping out your long-term content.
- Identify the steps to take when building internal links within your website.
- Recognize how to analyze links in order to measure SEO effectiveness.
- Break down the necessary components for understanding local SEO.