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Which Keywords (Actually) Matter?

Last update: Apr 27, 2024

Reading time:

5 Minutes


Which Keywords (Actually) Matter?

Not all keywords are created equal… in fact, most keywords are a complete waste of time for you to spend any time or $$$ on at all.

In SEO there often seems to be infinite opportunity. So many customers, making so many searches.

You only have so much time to spend ‘figuring it out’.

You can’t afford to be distracted.

So the important question becomes:

How do I figure out which keywords (actually) matter?

1. Where Do I Even Start?

Before we get too far down the rabbit hole, you need to be set up to understand what your search opportunity is.

The first thing you need is an SEO research tool (or a partner who has one).

Tools like:

  • Semrush (preferred)
  • SEO PowerSuite
  • Screaming Frog
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz

Any of these tools can help you figure out what your market looks like in Google Search.

We use Semrush for all of our clients due to its access to unique trend data and auditing tools.

Once you’ve selected your preferred tool…

  1. Connect your website via Google Analytics
  2. Audit your existing keyword rankings
  3. Check competitor keyword rankings
  4. Compare where they’re seeing success
  5. Research common product/service-related terms
  6. Build a master list of desirable keywords

Now that you have a good understanding of where you are, what you’re missing, and what you want to rank for.

Now you need to narrow down so you can focus.

Tackle 10-15 terms at a time.

Any more than that will get complex & overwhelming without a team.

2. How Do I Narrow It Down?

There are a few ways you can narrow down the list of keywords you’ve developed.

The ultimate goal is to create a list of opportunities that are both big impact and low effort.

That begs the question, how do you know what will have a big impact?

How do you know what will be low effort?

It’s easier than you might think.

There are 4 core data points we want to look at to determine how big of a priority a keyword should be:

  1. Position
  2. Search Volume
  3. Keyword Difficulty
  4. Keyword Intent

Let’s talk through each.

POSITION – Your existing ranking

For some terms in your priority list, you may already rank. Just not well.

Ranking 32nd isn’t going to be driving business.

Ranking 2nd will.

So sometimes the best thing to do is focus on improving an existing keyword ranking.

The closer you are to ranking in the top 10 the higher priority the keyword is.

If you’re ranking 11th for a valuable term, you should put some effort into bumping it into the top 10 as soon as possible.

The difference between position 11 and position 10 can be hundreds of website visits in some cases.

SEARCH VOLUME – How many searches happen each month

This metric is the most obvious one that most businesses are already used to.

You should be focusing on terms that are searched at least 100 times per month.

KEYWORD DIFFICULTY – A scale of 1-100 rating competition

A lot of businesses don’t even know Keyword Difficulty exists.

But it’s essentially a metric to determine how challenging it will be to compete for desirable terms.

For example, a 99-difficulty keyword would be nearly impossible to rank #1 for because the existing rankings are from very established websites.

Ideally, you want to target 40 difficulty or less.

These are considered ‘easy’ and can be won/contested quickly.

KEYWORD INTENT – An indication of what action a searcher will take

Google recognizes 4 core forms of search intent.

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Commercial
  • Transactional

They each mean something different.

When trying to determine what keywords to focus on, we usually want to prioritize keywords that have Commercial or Transactional intent.

Commercial intent means that the searcher is shopping.

Often comparing different companies and evaluating a buying decision.

Transactional intent means that a searcher is buying.

Often making a purchase immediately after searching.

These two intents are the most likely to generate revenue for your business, so focus on these.

3. How Should I Apply This?

Once you’ve narrowed your list of keywords down to your 10-15 top priorities, it’s time to take action.

You should first identify which keywords need brand new pages vs updates to existing pages.

Updates are easier and tend to show results faster.

But brand new pages have the biggest upside potential.

So you want to be doing both.

There are over 1000 metrics & elements you can optimize for, but here are a few to start:

  • H1
  • H2’s
  • H3’s
  • FAQs
  • Media
  • Quotes
  • Alt Text
  • Title Tag
  • Video Use
  • Meta-Title
  • Navigation
  • Backlinking
  • Keyword Use
  • Readability
  • Infographics
  • Schema Markup
  • Transcription
  • Content-Length
  • Content-Quality
  • Meta-Description
  • Internal Linking
  • External Linking
  • First-Party Data
  • Third-Party Data
  • Table of Contents
  • Content-Uniqueness
  • Keyword Variations

The truth is, that SEO is a complex field.

If you don’t know what you’re doing it might feel like an impossible challenge.

But it isn’t. We do it for hundreds of companies every day.

You can take the information here, study it, apply it, and make significant improvements to your Google performance quickly.

If you want to skip 1, 2, or even 3 fill out the form on our website.

We’ll get you exactly where you should be.

Are you happy with your Google rankings?

100% of the companies I talk to tell me they aren’t. You’re probably not any different than them. Every business can and should be doing better in Google Search. It’s been the #1 driver for new business for over 15 years. Click the button below to have an expert earn the rankings for you.

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