You’ve spent hours pouring over keywords, identifying your best SEO opportunities, and maybe even dividing them into lists.
So, which keywords should you prioritize first?
We frequently get this question. There are hundreds of guides on finding keywords, and few good ones on how to prioritize them for an SEO strategy. Finding keywords is the easy part, understanding how to target them is where we take things up a notch.
No two keywords are the same. To approach SEO strategically you must prioritize your efforts when targeting keywords with content.
In this article, I’ll show you our exact process for identifying and prioritizing keywords. I’ll lay out the best ways to find keywords, and how I would go about prioritizing them for an SEO strategy.
Like many things in SEO, there is no one way to go about keyword prioritization. This framework will give you a great start though, and you can customize it from there to suit your needs and approach to SEO.
After reading this you should be able to determine which keywords to target first, and be able to adjust your approach from there.
Keyword research is a massive topic in of itself, but a little primer never hurt anyone.
There’s a lot of nuance to keyword research, but if you can follow the following best practices that we’ve learned over the years then you stand a good chance at success.
Good keyword research starts with your customer, not an SEO tool.
Keyword research is about mapping the journey your customer takes on a search engine as they try to learn and make a buying decision. Good keyword research gives you a foundational understanding of what that journey looks like and how your customer’s questions change as they move further along.
Start with a firm understanding of your customer, their goals, and challenges, and you will have a major leg up on your competition.
Yes, we’re all trying to find keywords but you can think a bit broader than that.
Behind every Google search is a question, and the better you can understand the question behind a search the more aligned your content will be to your customer and the better it will perform.
In SEO speak, we call this search intent. It’s a process of trying to understand why someone would search for a specific keyword and what they are looking for (or how they are looking to engage with the content). This is critical to ensuring your content aligns with the search, which will help it rank much higher on Google.
Far too often people count low-volume keywords out, but this is a critical mistake to make.
For one, any given question could be asked in several ways meaning that “10 searches per month” keyword could be directly related to 10 others like it. Secondly, if everyone is ignoring the low volume keywords this presents a golden opportunity to rank because they will be that much less competitive!
Make sure that the keywords you are targeting are relevant to your business and goals. If you are trying to get more organic sales or demos, ranking for very top of funnel keywords will likely not help.
On the flip side, if you are trying to build brand awareness for a new website then targeting extremely competitive terms you cannot rank for will not help.
Ensure the keywords you target are relevant to your business and make a meaningful impact on helping you reach your goals. Otherwise, all your work is wasted.
For our full process, take a look at our complete guide to keyword research.
There is no shortage of good keyword research tools, here are my favorites when it comes to brainstorming relevant keywords for an SEO strategy.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to find quality keywords to target. In fact, I like to start with free tools that are readily available before jumping into a keyword research tool.
Here’s a quick overview of my favorite free keyword research tools.
Google has an immense amount of data behind every search, and what searches might come next or be related to any given keyword. Take note of what Google suggests in the auto-suggest field, and what Google shows in the “People also Ask” section—these are goldmines for good keyword suggestions.
If you have a website that has been around for a while (at least 6 months, ideally over a year) then Google Search Console is a fantastic free tool to use. Google Search Console shows you the keywords
Keyword research is about knowing the questions your target audience is asking through the buyer’s journey, and there is no better substitute than real questions asked by real people.
Pull from conversations with customers and prospects as well as online forums to get a better sense of what questions your audience is asking. This is an extremely useful way to find niche questions your competitors might not be targeting.
Free tools are great but they have their limits. Paid tools give you advanced insights like search volumes, CPC data, as well as the ability to save keywords and track them for your strategy.
We built a keyword research and SEO analytics tool for our customers that packs a punch in a simple, easy-to-use package.
You can use Centori to brainstorm keywords based on a keyword you enter, see which keywords your competitors are ranking for, and pull in keywords from Google Search Console.
These three sources of keywords give you everything you need to build an effective keyword strategy.
You can sign up for an account (and 30-day money-back guarantee) and get free onboarding and setup here.
Another leading pair of tools in the SEO space are ahrefs and semrush. Both tools pack a punch, and are geared more towards SEO specialists and agencies than the average marketed.
They start at around $100, so they can be a bit of an investment but are worth a try as well.
Building a big list of keywords is just the first step, but then you need to make sure that you are targeting and prioritizing the right keywords.
How do you know if one keyword is the right one over another? This will depend on the keyword, your business, and your goals, but you can follow the following series of steps to ensure you’re on the right track.
* Does ranking for the keyword help you reach your goals?
* Is the keyword relevant?
* Can you rank for the keyword?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then you should take a critical eye to that keyword to make sure it is worth targeting. Once you’ve removed the non-relevant keywords from your list, it’s time to prioritize them.
Take your time with this step. Getting this right will set your SEO strategy up for success and save you many headaches later on.
##How to prioritize keywords for your SEO strategy
Now that you have a healthy list of keywords, do you just write a blog post about each one? Do you target all of them at once, or bit by bit?
Unless you have a content team upwards of 50 people, you will have to prioritize your keywords. Here’s how we like to prioritize keywords for our SEO strategy:
1. Start with your goals
2. Sort by content opportunity
3. Sort by difficulty to rank
Let’s go through these steps one by one.
Everything has to tie back to the goal of your SEO strategy. If you want more sales, demos, leads, or subscribers then this will directly impact how you prioritize your keywords.
My approach here is simple: prioritize the keywords that directly related to you reaching your goals. If your goal is to get more inbound demo requests, don’t prioritize keywords that sit at the top of the funnel.
So many people throw up their hands saying that SEO “does not work”, and 99/100 times it is because they are targeting keywords that are either unrelated to their business or several steps removed from their goals.
This is the simplest way to prioritize keywords and content for an SEO strategy, but there are a few other ways to approach prioritization.
Depending on the intent and funnel stage of a keyword, your customers will have different expectations at the other end of the search.
Some keywords will be answered by a simple landing page, others a product/checkout page, and others will require long form content.
If all of your keywords are aligned with your goals, then it’s time to sort keywords by your ability to create content for them. If you despise writing long form content, then I’d de-prioritize keywords that demand it (or outsource as budget allows).
Your ability to rank for keywords will be directly related to your ability to target them with content. Given that, lean into your strengths and ability to create content to target your keywords as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Once again, many think SEO does not work because they are spending too much time on the wrong pieces of content.
Lastly, I like to review how difficult the keywords will be to rank for.
There’s little point in spending energy on keywords you cannot rank for. Ideally, you’ll weed these keywords out before you get to prioritizing, so the next step is to target the easiest keywords to rank for first to build up your website’s authority and traffic sooner.
The more keywords you rank for, and the more you appear on Google, the faster your site will build authority and the easier it will be to rank for more competitive keywords.
Now that you’ve prioritized your keywords and are targeting them with content, it’s time to track your performance.
There are dozens of rank tracking tools, but in my opinion there is no substitute for Google Search Console. Google Search Console allows you to see:
* How often your website appears in Google Search results for a keyword
* How often it is clicked
* The page that is ranking
* Your rank over time
Centori integrates with Google Search Console to make it exceedingly simple to track your performance for a list of keywords as well as individual keywords.
If you’re ready to take your keyword research, prioritization, and reporting to the next level then let’s set you up with a Centori account. Not only does out platform make it dead simple to identify and manage your target keywords, we also have a vibrant Slack community where you can ask questions and get help, and we run monthly calls for customers to teach you the fundamentals of SEO.
We offer free onboarding and setup for every customer and a 30-day money-back guarantee, sign up for an account here.
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