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SEO for Business Owners Series: Keyword Research

What is SEO and why is SEO important?

If you’re a business owner who isn’t seeing the amount of site traffic and conversions you want to get out of your website, it could be because your site is poorly designed, not functioning properly, or a variety of other factors. However, if your website is functional and has a user-friendly interface, the culprit is likely improper SEO. SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing the content on your website to rank higher in Google’s organic search results. The process of optimizing content can be difficult and confusing, especially for beginners. Google is constantly changing and updating the way its algorithm works, which further steepens the learning curve. This series of posts aims to help business owners who are new to SEO understand some of the basics.

SEO is important for the simple fact that searchers want the information they seek immediately. Most people never bother to scroll past the first page of Google search results, and they often don’t need to. If your site isn’t found on the first page of Google’s search results, its chances of getting clicks drops to almost zero. By the time users scroll through the first page of results, they’ve likely either found what they were looking for or their attention has turned to something else. Proper SEO boosts your site’s position in the search results, making it more likely that your site will be seen by users who know what they want and want it right away.

SEO Keyword Research

So how do you go about boosting your site’s position on Google? You’ll need to be willing to dedicate a substantial amount of time into optimizing your site. Many business owners pay SEO specialists due to the fact that proper optimization is time consuming. SEO is free, but only in the most literal sense. There’s no pay-per-click cost like there is with Google or Facebook Ads campaigns. Rather, you pay with your time. If you aren’t looking to hire an SEO specialist, you must understand that proper SEO takes time to cultivate. It all starts with keyword research, which tends to take up more time than any other step in the process. You will also likely need to purchase an SEO assistance service. One of the best services available is SEM Rush. Yoast SEO has a free on page SEO checker, or you can pay for Yoast premium if you need more features. To properly explain the process of keyword research, it must be broken down into steps. There are a couple of ways you can go about your keyword research for SEO purposes, and this post will outline the way that I find most efficient.

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How to Choose Keywords for SEO

The first step is choosing which keywords you want to try to rank for, which depends entirely upon the intent of your website. Say you own a bakery and want to focus on the baked goods you sell. You’ll want to try to rank for keywords that relate directly to your industry. However, not all keywords are created equal. Keyword difficulty, click potential, and volume are the most important metrics to look at when choosing keywords.

Keyword Difficulty

This metric refers to how difficult it will be to rank your site for a specific keyword. For example, the keyword “cake” on SEM Rush currently has a keyword difficulty of 98%. This means that “cake” will be nearly impossible to rank for organically. More specific keywords will usually result in a lower difficulty. The key phrase “cakes for kids birthday” has a 66% keyword difficulty on SEM Rush. The chances of ranking for this keyword are better, but you’ll need in-depth optimizing to rank. If we get even more specific, the key phrase “birthday cakes for kids with personalized names” has a keyword difficulty of only 20%. You’ll likely want to try and rank for this key phrase because your chances of ranking are higher the lower the keyword difficulty is.


This metric refers to the average number of searches per month for a specific keyword. The volume metric is useful because it gives you an idea of how likely people are to search for this exact term. If the volume of a keyword is low, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to rank for that keyword. Volume and click potential tie into each other heavily, which is why low volume keywords shouldn’t automatically be ignored.

Click Potential

This metric estimates the chances of someone clicking on your site if you rank for that keyword. For example, if a keyword has a high volume, but a low click potential, it may not be worth trying to rank for, since your site will still be competing with the other search results. If the volume is low, but the click potential is high, you may want to attempt to rank for that keyword because the likelihood of your site getting traffic is higher. When thinking about SEO, volume is important, but quality of clicks is better than quantity. All the clicks in the world won’t make a difference if those clicks never turn into conversions.

Determining Search
Intent of Kewords

If you use a tool like SEM Rush, this step will already be done for you. However, if you aren’t using any SEO assistance tools, determining the search intent is as simple as Googling each keyword and looking at what kind of pages show up in the results. For example, Google considers the keyword “cakes” to be informational, whereas “cakes near me” is considered transactional. These are the intents of the average searcher for those respective terms.

This means that you must consider what type of page you want to rank for which search terms. If you want to try to rank for the word “cakes”, you shouldn’t try to rank a product page. Instead, you could try to rank a blog post that describes different types of cakes. Conversely, instead of a blog post, you would try to rank your product pages for “cakes near me” because this is what potential customers are searching for when looking to purchase a cake.

Building a Keyword List

Once you’ve done your research, you can begin the final step, building your keyword list. This list will consist of all the search terms you’ve gathered that are relevant to your business, have a realistic balance of keyword difficulty, volume, and click potential, and the intent of each search term is established. You can make different lists for different purposes, like a separate list for product pages, blog posts, landing pages, etc. When you have these lists narrowed down, they will be your most useful tool for writing new content or optimizing existing content. You’ll learn how to write content for your pages using the keyword lists you’ve created in the next post. Creating these lists takes time, so be patient with yourself and the process while you’re learning. It’s not uncommon for an SEO beginner to take hours creating a single keyword list. As you hone your skills, you should be able to research and build these lists more quickly and efficiently.

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