When it comes to SEO, there’s always something going on. It’s easy to get distracted by the next bright thing instead of focusing on the tasks that will move the needle for business.
Having hundreds, thousands or even millions of potential keywords worthy of targeting is overwhelming. You need to prioritize your SEO keywords and create a measurable plan.
How do you start? Read on to find the best tips on how to prioritize SEO keywords for content creation.
Think about business and marketing goals
If you are creating SEO content, you need to have one goal in mind.
You should work towards ranking for a particular set of keywords, usually based on a specific topic. An end goal is essential for measuring SEO success.
A full optimization might be feasible if your site has fewer than 20 pages. Also, you need to focus on a cluster of topics.
Your topic cluster will be a section of your website. For example, if you sell household items, you might prioritize a particular room and related items.
You can prioritize your essential clusters by considering the following:
- Management wishes and corporate goals: Marketing should support management to move the business forward.
- What already works well: You may find some easy wins if a site already has some authority in a particular topic or product.
- Pages convert well: If a page converts well, increase organic traffic to drive more conversions.
Keyword research for prioritization
Before you start prioritizing keywords, you will need to research keywords for SEO. You can do this in many ways, but here are three ways to get started.
Google search console
If you have a site with organic visitors then Google search console (GSC) can be a great starting point. GSC tells you each keyword your site ranks for.
Go to Search Results in the left menu and click Average position then it turns orange. I recommend filtering by country, but clicking the plus sign above the chart and choosing Village. You can now see the average position of all keywords ranked in the country where you are most interested in ranking.
Examine your keywords and pay attention to those in positions six to 20.
These keywords are your keywords at the bottom of page one, page two or at the top of page three, also known as your low fruit.
In theory, it will be easier to move these keywords up the ranks.
As part of a competitor analysis, you can find keywords that competitors rank for. SEO tools like Ahrefs or Semrush will give you insight into potential search volume, traffic, and search intent.
There are two main benefits to competitor keyword research:
- Eventually you will show up in the SERPs where they are so you can get some of that traffic.
- You can prove EEAT to Google. If you cover the same keywords (and more specifically, content) as your competitors, you’re proving to Google that your site is at least as valuable as theirs.
Just because your competitor ranks doesn’t necessarily mean you should too. Use the prioritization tips below to determine what to use on your site.
There is nothing better than finding keywords than talking to the people you want most on your site.
Talk to your customers and potential buyers. Alternatively, speak to sales and customer service or customer success managers.
If you can understand customers pain points and the words or phrases shoppers use to find you, you can be sure they are entering those words into Google too.
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Tips for prioritizing SEO keywords
Ad data is a mine of information for SEO. If a website is running ads, you need to get a list of converting keywords. If a keyword is converting for ads, chances are it’s converting with SEO as well.
Not every keyword that your ads bid on can rank organically, but where possible, you should choose them as long as they fit those business and marketing goals.
You can also test keywords with ads by bidding on them to test their conversion rate.
Google Keyword Planner
If you’re not already running ads, Google Keyword Planner – an advertising tool – can still support you (and it’s free).
Screenshot of Google Keyword Planner to illustrate how competition and cost-per-click can help influence keyword prioritization.
Google Keyword Planner provides some interesting data:
- The keyword with its average monthly searches (exact searches if you run ads).
- Competition means how difficult it is to get exposure with your ads for this keyword.
- The bid range indicates how much people pay for your keyword.
So what does this mean for SEO?
If a keyword has high competition, a lot of people bid, and companies tend not to bid on keywords that aren’t making them money.
A high competitor is an indicator that a keyword is making a ROI.
If you can earn a ranking organically for the same keyword, then there’s a chance you’re earning money for your site.
Prioritize converting keywords and money pages
The main goal of SEO is to build a qualified audience. You want people on your site who are likely to be interested in your product or service.
You want visibility for pages that lead to the conversion, whether it’s a sale or email signup, a download, or something that drives web traffic up your marketing funnel.
Your SEO efforts should aim to strengthen these very important pages so that you can accelerate your marketing funnel.
SEO can bring users who are in the awareness stage of the marketing funnel to the site.
This stage is also known as the top-funnel (ToFu). ToFu users are unlikely to convert. But it helps if marketing can feed them through other means, such as through email if users sign up.
SEO can also bring in bottom funnel traffic (BoFu), aka conversion traffic, if those money pages rank high enough on the first page.
BoFu users are ready to buy. If you know which pages are converting, you can work to develop an SEO content strategy that helps these pages rank.
Typically, your keywords with high search volumes will be your ToFu/Awareness keywords and your BoFu keywords will have lower search volumes.
Because BoFu keywords convert, you’ll likely find them in your ad accounts.
Getting distracted by high-search keywords is easy, but you need to remember that your goal is to get conversions and revenue, not just traffic.
The keywords you choose should be less volume-focused and more conversion-focused.
Ask yourself how your SEO content is helping those BoFu ranks.
It’s worth considering keyword difficulty. Like the competition metric on Google Keyword Planner, keyword difficulty indicates how easy or difficult it might be for a given keyword to rank.
New sites may have a long way to go in ranking for seed keywords. In this case, prioritize longer-tail keywords.
That said, topical authority is more important than keywords and difficulty. Even though some of your keywords may not reach the first few pages of Google soon, you should still consider adding keyword pages to your site.
Topic coverage helps create EEAT, and only some content needs to rank right away. Meanwhile, you can share the content through other marketing channels.
Do it right or don’t do it at all
You can’t cut corners when creating content that ranks in the SERPs.
Google wants to provide its users with the best possible experience and it’s not enough to just use keywords.
You need to create highly valuable and truly useful content.
If you’re looking at competitor pages and see 3,000-word articles with video and image embeds, you should only be up your game for the keyword when you can create something as good as those pages’ ranking.
Measure and improve for SEO success
As you build your SEO and content strategy, you will find that new opportunities will emerge and be prioritized.
After a few months, you can refer to the Google Search Console suggestion at the beginning of this article. New keywords will likely be placed at the bottom of the first page and beyond.
You will continuously iterate the optimization process, building your content architecture and discovering new opportunities.
Once you’ve ranked your chosen cluster and generated revenue, you can go ahead and repeat the process for a second cluster.
The views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff writers are listed here.