It’s not the keywords that count. It’s the motivation behind them.

Your SEO keywords are the key words and phrases in your web content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines.

A website that is well optimized for search engines “speaks the same language” as its potential visitor base with keywords for SEO that help connect searchers to your site. Keywords are one of the main elements of SEO basics.

Value of a Keyword

How much is a keyword worth to your website? If you own an online shoe store, do you make more sales from visitors searching for “brown shoes” or “black boots”? The keywords visitors type into search engines are often available to webmasters, and keyword research tools allow us to find this information.

However, those tools cannot show us directly how valuable it is to receive traffic from those searches. To understand the value of a keyword, we need to understand our own websites, make some hypotheses, test, and repeat—the classic web marketing formula.

Keyword research mistakes

Most beginning search marketers make the same mistakes when it comes to SEO keyword research:

  1. Only doing SEO keyword research once,
  2. Not bothering to update and expand their SEO keyword list, or
  3. Targeting keywords that are too popular, meaning they’re way too competitive.

Keyword research is the practice of identifying which phrases are used on search engines when people are looking for information, and usually includes finding both the search volume and relative competitiveness of the terms.

Related topics & phrases

Watch out for this common key phrase pitfall: failing to think laterally. Dan Shure of Evolving SEO calls this “tangent keywords.”

The idea is simple—

Account for variation on wording in your phrases. If I’m researching houses, your night expect me to use any or all of these words/phrases: home, house, mortgage, rent, lease, FSBO, etc.

But what about some others you might not expect?

“Scams” searches may indicate that a customer believed that someone is scamming them. That fear, and the searches motivated by it, is a source of traffic and leads for an SEO client.

“Disclosure laws” searches may indicate a customer who wants to hide a problem. In both cases, an SEO client could capitalize on searches and traffic in a relatively low-competition keyword niche.

These phrases are not immediately related, but they are still relevant to potential customers. Think laterally and cast a wider net in your search targeting.

Plan your attack

Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business.

  • Brand phrases
  • Product phrases
  • Competitor terms
  • Substitute product phrases
  • Complementary product phrases
  • Audience searches

To kick off this process, think about the topics you want to rank for in terms of generic buckets. You’ll come up with about 5-10 topic buckets you think are important to your business, and then you’ll use those topic buckets to help come up with some specific keywords later in the process.