How to begin with SEO

Finding the Best Keywords for your Website

Finding the best keywords for your website is much more complicated than simply choosing words that reflect the content. Searchability and competition are also big factors in making the right choice. Essentially you need to balance the likelihood of the search term being used by other more established sites with the likelihood of the keyword being used at all by searchers.

For the purpose of simplicity I’m going to use an example of a fictitious bakery to illustrate this post. The bakery is about to release a new product line – hot butter croissants for delivery to offices and homes. They need a keyword to try to boost the page in Google.

What makes a Good Keyword?

The key to successfully converting visitors is to match their search intent to your content ie. provide information that will be useful to somebody who reads your post or page as a result of searching for it on Google. The metrics that define this are Relevance, Authority and Volume.

Relevance

Relevance relates to the content and purpose of your site. Writing about SEO on this site is relevant because we are a Digital Agency. Writing about Croissant Recipes on a Bakery site is relevant because you’d expect a baker to demonstrate knowledge about the baked!

Authority

Authority is a big thing for Google this year. The concept is that the sites with “Authority” in their field are those with the most backlinks and the most relevant content. If you’re a new website, you won’t have too many backlinks (links from other websites back to yours) but you can cultivate them to an extent and sites such as Pinterest, Medium. YouTube, Facebook etc count. You can create lots of content though. This comes with the caveat that the content needs to be well structured and exceptional. i.e. It’s no good parroting content from other sites in the same industry.

Volume

Volume refers to the number of searches made in a month using the keyword you are researching. Bear in mind that the highest volume keywords are likely to be unspecific and will be used by all of your competitors! Try to get a balance between Volume and Relevance.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is able to tell you the search terms that have been used in order to find any page in your website. A good place to start would be to look at the terms that have generated clicks and to check that the term is featured appropriately on the page. That is in any or all of the

  • Title
  • H1
  • H2
  • Body content
  • Alt tags (for images)

This will almost inevitably result in higher ratings for the page. But what if I’m starting a new website or launching like my baker friend, a new product line?

Where Can I Find Keyword Suggestions?

Choosing candidate keywords is the easy bit. Choosing the best ones is more troublesome. Intuition is the place to start. What is your post/page about? In this case, Hot Butter Croissants.

The first problem is this – if I choose the word Croissant as a keyword I’m immediately in direct competition with Sainsbury, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Waitrose, Tesco, Lidl, Asda etc. But I’m a small local bakery so I simply can’t compete with people like this. What do I do?

Google Search Suggestions

best keywords for your website

The first source of suggestions is Google itself. Typing your search term into the search bar will prompt Google to suggest a number of terms that have been used by people in your locale. These are actual search terms.

Looking at the list I can see that it’s a broad church – I’m seeing terms from cooks, grocery shoppers and one that might suit me, “Croissants Delivery”. Still it’s a very broad selection and the dreaded Tesco are in there so let’s try for a smaller selection by making the search term more specific.

“Butter Croissants” opens up a whole new world of pain – Tesco, Starbucks and Lidl appear along with more recipes and calorie counters. Nothing here that I might be tempted to use.

If I add the word “Hot” to the phrase, there are no suggestions. This means nobody is searching for that term which also means it will be easy to rank for it. But wait – if nobody is searching for it, it will be pretty useless in terms of actually attracting buyers.

If I go to the bottom of the Search Page, I see “Related Searches” It is here I might start thinking laterally and realise that the “hot” word is associated almost exclusively with cooking. But a thought occurs – one of the terms that cropped up in the first iteration was “croissant delivery”  Let’s add that and see what the effect is..

Bingo! All of these searches relate directly to my business and looking at the actual results I can see artisan bakeries all over the midlands. Best of all, there are only 21.5m results which looks a lot more positive in terms of competition than 30.5m for “Hot Butter Croissant” and 40.5m for “Butter Croissant” – effectively I’ve excluded Tesco, Lidl and I’ve discovered a keyphrase that has intent – you don’t search for “French croissants delivered” unless you are thinking of getting some delivered!

Search Intent

Search Intent is one of the factors that Google uses to populate its search pages. As I just mentioned if someone is searching for “French Croissants Delivered” it’s pretty clear they are in the market for a croissants delivery. Therefore, if I decide to use the keyword “Hot Croissant Delivery” then I need to talk about the Delivery aspect of that croissant on my page. This makes my page a good fit fore the search and from Google’s perspective that’s the important thing. If I also discuss the recipe that’s a bonus, it demonstrates to my customer that the croissant will be delicious and to Google that I know what I’m talking about. Yum!

SEO Plugins for WordPress

Another place to look for inspiration is the plugin that you use for SEO Guidance on your website. I should declare here that we are affiliated with Rank Math, but both Yoast and Rank Math have this capability. The keyword suggestions for Rank Math are sourced from Google, the ones from Yoast are sourced form Semrush. We published an article comparing the two a couple of weeks ago – Is Rank Math Better than Yoast?

Pro Tools

We use Semrush for our SEO business. It’s not cheap but it is comprehensive. Another tool in the same league is Ahrefs. Both are aimed at either professional SEOs or large corporates.

Finding the Best Keywords for your Website

In conclusion, the best keywords for your website are those that have a chance of being used in the real world, but not so much that you are in competition with everyone on the planet to rank for them. Long tail keywords such as “Hot Butter Croissants Delivered” are easier to rank for than say “Butter Croissants” although they have less searches, many searches for the latter will be irrelevant to my bakery business!

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