Keyword research is one of the most important strategies of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Whether you’re doing your own SEO or having it done professionally, understanding what keywords are and how to use them will help guide your strategy.

What are keywords?

They help search engines know what a page on your website is about. Then the search engines are able to guide searchers to pages that cover that topic. This is why deciding the keywords you want to be found for can be so powerful: when you determine your keywords first, you can build your content so it will start ranking when people do a search.

How do I Choose Keywords?

1. Pick your keywords first – Writing content is a lot easier once you know what subjects you want to talk about. If you write your content first, and then try to squeeze your keywords in, your writing could come off sounding stiff and static. Determine your subject matter based on your keywords, and then write naturally, keeping your reader in mind. Remember, you’re not writing for the search engines, you’re writing for your potential customers.

2. Research your competition – By examining the competitors that are ranking better than you for search terms, you can determine what similar keywords you want to rank for. Or you can also use this as an opportunity to rank for keywords that they are missing out on. Write a list of those keywords.

3. Grab a thesaurus – Now that you have your content written, and you have an initial list of keywords you need to branch out. What are some other words people might use to describe what you’re talking about?   Add those words to your list.

4. Determine your best words – Using Google’s keyword tool is a great place to start. Ideally, you’ll want to go through your list of keywords and find the ones with the highest search volume and the lowest amount of competition.