How to Choose SEO Keywords

SEO concept with person using a laptop on a white tableby a Philadelphia SEO Agency

How to choose SEO Keywords: SEO keywords are the words or phrases which appear in your website's content that make it possible for people to find your site with a search engine.  A website is considered to be SEO optimized if it's content matches the searchers intent when they use a search engine.

What are SEO Keywords?

If you are a new business in Philadelphia or one of the surrounding towns, it stands to reason that you will want your website to show up in Google's results.  But, how do you ensure that your website ranks well for the words that matter to your business?  The answer is to "SEO" your website.  But what is SEO, and how can you use SEO to get your website to be found in Google?  Also, how to choose SEO keywords? Should you look for a Philadelphia SEO Agency to work with or should you try to do SEO yourself?

IT all starts with choosing the right SEO KEYWORDS

The first step in any SEO process is selecting the right SEO keywords to pursue.  "SEO keywords" is simply the technical term for the words that you want your website to rank for in Google.

Selecting the right SEO keywords isn't as simple as you would imagine.  Rather, it will take hours of research and planning for you to determine which keywords to target.  Hard decisions will need to be made about which keywords to include, and which keywords you will need to set aside and come back to at some point in the future.

In order to determine the right set of keywords that you want to show up for, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your potential audience.  You need to reverse engineer their thought process and their buyer's journey and determine all of the possible permutations of words or phrases that they could input into Google.

To get started, the first task is simply brainstorming. Ask yourself, and your co-workers, some basic questions.  This will help you select keywords that will most likely be good targets for search engine optimization.

  1. What is your website's content about?
  2. How would a customer use a search engine to find what your website offers?
    • Google Maps
    • Google My Business
    • Organic Search
    • Google Shopping
    • Google Reviews
  3. What do you think customers would search for in Google?
  4. What questions do customers have that they would also search for in Google?
  5. Identify your most popular pages, services, or products?

search-box-to-fine-seo-keywordHelpful Hint! - Put a search box into your website. Not only will this help users of your website find the content that they want quickly, but it will also show you what people are searching for and how they are typing it. You may be able to find some gold nuggests in their searches that you have missed!

how to use "long-tail" keywords?

When looking for the right keywords, most business owners immediately state that they want to pursue the shortest possible terms that summarize their business.  Like “Philadelphia + Web Design” or “Philadelphia + Ecommerce Development”, or even "Philadelphia + SEO Agency" since those keywords have the highest monthly search volume for that geographic region. In reality, unless you are an established business who has invested a considerable amount of time and energy over many years into web marketing and SEO tactics, there is not much chance that you will be able to rank for short keywords targets like that.

how long tail SEO keywords impact the amount of click through's you will get in Google SERP

It will take many months or years of diligent SEO work to get to page #1 for a keyword like “SEO Agency”.  However, targeting a less competitive keyword will take much less effort and time.  By selecting a long-tail keyword phrase, you will cut many months or years off of your effort. The website owner could potentially hope to achieve position #1 on page #1 within six to twelve months.

Given a choice between being on page #50 for a very high search volume keyword versus being on page one for a much lower search volume keyword.  We recommend pursuing a page one target. On page 50, you will get exactly zero visitors. On page #1, even for a very low search volume keyword, you will a few, highly qualified visitors.

In addition to bringing visitors to your website sooner, targeting the right lower-search-volume keywords will also set you up to go after those higher volume keywords in the longer term.  This practice will become even important when we discuss "content clusters" and "SEO pillar pages".

So what do you do if all of the "good" keywords are taken?

Well, the answer is to use Long-tail keywords.  Long-tail keywords are search phrases that rely on longer search queries.  They are search terms that have lower usage volume, and therefore have fewer companies targeting them from an SEO perspective.  Long-tail keywords are a great place to start your search engine optimization process as you will most likely be able to set some sort of ranking, and traffic, relatively easily and quickly.

Long-tail keywords are also a great choice of keyword targets for sites with an established SEO presence.  The good news is that these long-tail search terms are often highly-focused phrases, which yield high-quality traffic to your website.  Long-tail keyword searches are different from short "Head Keywords" in that they are usually focused on a very specific search query or server intent.  Because of that, traffic from these keywords tends to have a significantly higher conversion rate than broader, shorter keyword phrases.

But wait!  I want more traffic to my site, not less!!  Interestingly, the vast majority of Google searches are very specific long-tail searches.  In fact, about 20 percent of all searches in Google each day at totally unique and have never been searched before in the history of Google.  Pretty amazing!

When selecting SEO Keywords, Try to include your LOCATION

SEO Keyword terms can very competitive.  A great strategy that you can use to reduce your competition is to try to pursue keywords that are less competitive.  An easy way to do this is to focus your search term around a specific region.

We recommend that you take time and consider if all, or part of your audience may be using a regional modifier in their keyword searches.  If so, select the largest town or city names that your client base will most likely be from.  For instance, IQnection's office is located near the city of Philadelphia, and for SEO purposes, we talk about ourselves as a Philadelphia SEO Agency, even though we can perform SEO services for any company all around the world. However, our office isn't located in Philadelphia, rather, we are in a suburb called Doylestown.  Doylestown SEO Agency just doesn't get the same amount of search traffic as going for a much larger geographic location such as Philadelphia.

Instead of exclusively saying that we are from Doylestown, we reference the fact that we are near Philadelphia. We made this choice intentionally so that we would show up for SEO Keyword searches that include the term Philadelphia SEO Agency.

Yes, it would be really nice for us to rank for "SEO Agency" and be in a keyword phrase that gets 8,100 searches for that per month.  But, the likelihood of us ranking in the top three spots for that keyword term is highly unlikely.  However, we are a substantial regional player in the Philadelphia market, so we have targeted that region with our keyword selection.

It is much more likely that we will be able to rank for keywords that are regional.  Therefore, we pursue the following list of keywords, and focus our energy on "SEO Agency Philadelphia".  We discuss the same tactics with our clients and help them understand the competitive nature of SEO and how to select keyword targets that are appropriate for their business.seo-agency-philadelphia-SEMRUSH-keywords-report

How to choose SEO keywords
  1. Make a list of your main services, products, or relevant topics based on the services that your business provides.  Keep this list short.  These will be called your "Head Keywords".
  2. Make a list of the common question people would have when thinking about your service.  You can use tools, like Google's "People also ask" to help you find some of these common questions.SEO-Keywords-Google-Also-Consider
  3. For each of your "Head Keyword", now think of every possible variation of how people would say them.  For instance SEO could also be, Search Engine Optimization, or Local SEO, or Philadelphia SEO Agency, or SEO Near Me.  This list will be LONG!
  4. Think about various ways that people could search for things using plus signs and minus signs.  For instance, Philadelphia + SEO Agency.

This next step is one of the most important steps, and a step that unexperienced SEO Agencies skip.  You need to group keywords by SEO intent.  SEO intent grouping essentially means that you need to group similar keywords or keyword phrases into clusters so that you can address all of them on one website page or cluster.

For instance, consider the following searches.

What are SEO Keywords
Definition of SEO Keywords
How to Choose SEO Keywords

These keyword searches essentially all have the same searcher intent.  They are all related to learning about SEO keywords. The visitor is looking to get a basic understanding of how SEO keywords function or simply learn what they are.  In an effort the answer these a searcher's intent, you should try to use these terms in the content that you are creating.  This will help your site visitors know that you are answering the specific question with the content that you are providing.

Map keywords to pages in your site and find gaps in your keyword strategy

Once you have a list of keywords that you are working on, you should look for gaps in your list.  You can do this by mapping every single keyword to a page on your website.  This can be a laborious process, but it will quickly show you if you have holes in your content.  Or if you have pages on your website that do not have keywords mapped to them.  This is especially helpful if you have a large website with lots and lots of pages.  Many times people have websites that have been created over many years and by multiple hands.  This many keep track of all of your content a challenge.  By mapping keywords to specific pages, you will be able to quickly see which pages are the most important, and which pages will not drive you the amount, or type of search engine traffic that you want.

We find the MS Excel is a great tool for this process.  You can import your list of keywords into column A, and include Keyword volumes into Column B.  When you are done, you will get a spreadsheet that will look something like this.

SEO Keyword Mapping to URL in excel spreadsheet

Look for gaps in your keyword Keywords by examining competitors

Another really fantastic way to identify keyword targets is to look at the keywords that your competitors are pursuing.  SEM Rush has a wonderful Keyword Gap tool which will let you see all of the keywords that a competitor is ranking for.  It will then let you compare that list of keywords to the list of keywords that your own website is ranking for.

In the diagram below, we can see that PlanetFitness is ranking for a considerable amount of keywords.  However, all three fitness clubs share a key group of keywords.  Using this tool, you can identify possible keyword targets that you have missed that your competitors are getting traffic for.

Keyword Overlap for SEO tool and competitor analysis

For our clients, we do GAP analysis in both directions. For keywords that competitors are using, and also for keywords that competitors are not using.  This way we are able to identify potential keyword opportunities that competitors are not fully exploiting.

what are the best keyword research tools?

We rounded up our favorite keyword research tools that we utilize on a regular basis.

semrush SEO agency service tool logo PNGSEM Rush – This is one tool that we use almost daily.  It provides a wide variety of keyword metrics for you to use. We set up individual projects for each of our clients in this tool.  One of the best features is the keyword SERP tracking.  This will give you daily insight into how your keywords are performing.  They offer paid and organic search data including cost per click, keyword volume, and related keywords. It’s also handy for competitive analysis because it shows what keywords your competitors are ranking for.


google-keyword-planner-toolGoogle Keyword Planner - Google’s keyword planner tool is a great source for keyword research. Google Keyword Planner shows you how often keywords are searched and how those trends have changed over time.  This tool will also show you related keywords. The tool also allows users to filter out negative terms or filter keywords by volume, cost per click, or competitiveness.


moz SEO Agency ToolsMoz Keyword Explorer - Moz's keyword planner tool is another really great resource for keyword research. The Moz tools allow you to expand your understanding of keywords as it provides countless suggestions for keywords.  This tool will also show you related keywords, and filter based keywords by volume, cost per click, or competitiveness.


Google TrendsGoogle Trends – Google Trends is a fantastic tool for determining whether or not a keyword is gaining or losing popularity over time.  This is especially useful for businesses that have a long list of keywords they want to target.  Especially if they are in industries that change over time. You can see how popular keywords have performed over time.  As well as in what countries, states, or cities they’re most often searched. This tool also allows you to see which similar terms such as “attorney” and “lawyer” are searched more often.

let a Philadelphia SEO agency do this for you!

An SEO Agency will help you get your website to rank at the top of Google's search index for the keywords that matter to you.  An SEO Agency will be able to explain the process that they will use to get your website to rank in Google.  However, they won't be able to give you an exact date of how long the process will take. This is simply because some businesses take longer than others to rank based upon the competition of the keywords that you select.  Also, a lot of the timeline depends on how competitive your industry is.

The best Philadelphia SEO agencies will not just focus on traffic.  They will also work on making your website user-friendly.  They will turn it into something people want to spend their time on. In one work, they will make your entire website, and web presence, awesome.