Researching and choosing your site’s target keywords is the first step to SEO success.   In a sense, keywords are the DNA of your master SEO plan; keywords will be the blueprint of where your site gets indexed and what type of customers are visiting you.   It may seem fairly simple – choose the keywords that best suit your industry.  However, there are several factors that must be considered and compromises that must be taken to target the perfect keywords.  I’d like to briefly analyze what factors should be taken into account when choosing your site’s keywords.

1.  Local or Not: Is your business local or not?  If you are a Napa Valley Winery, it doesn’t make sense to target the single word ‘winery’.  Although ‘Winery’ may have more monthly search traffic than ‘Napa Valley Winery,’ the competition will be much stiffer and the ROI much smaller.  On the flip side, if your website is selling a broader online product, like ‘MMA Shorts’ than it wouldn’t make sense to include a specific location (unless you had a brick and mortar store front you were promoting).

2.  Monthly Search Traffic: You can easily find the monthly search traffic for various keywords using Google’s keyword tool.   Search traffic should be a primary factor in determining which keywords to target.  If you have a super specific product, like ‘eco-friendly puppy treats’ you will probably find out that those specific keywords get nearly zero search traffic.  This probably means you want to broaden your keyword to something that gets more searches, like ‘puppy treats’.

3.  Keyword Connotations: Even after determining the monthly search traffic of your target keywords, be sure to actually search for them on Google to see what results come up.  Certain keywords may have various connotations which you hadn’t previously thought of.   Make sure that the competitors on the 1st page of results are in your industry wheelhouse.

4. Competitors: It never hurts to check out what your competitors on the 1st page of search results for your keywords are doing.  View their website’s page source to see if there is any secret sauce of keyword variations that you haven’t thought of yet.

5.  The SEO Compromise: When all is said and done, choosing the keywords that will give your website the best traffic is all about compromise.  If you aim too high at broad keywords that are incredibly competitive, the chances are you won’t break ground on them for quite a while (if ever).  If you aim too low at super-specific keywords that have nearly no traffic, you will likely see very little return on your SEO efforts. The key is finding the compromise in keywords that will provide your business the perfect amount of traffic meshed with the ideal type of traffic.