How to Choose the Right SEO Keywords to Rank #1 on Google
Google remains the top search engine in the market, commanding 85% of global traffic. In the U.S. alone, Google boasts over 270 million unique visitors. These visitors are crucial prospects that most businesses advertising online want to target and convert.
But that is easier said than done.
According to data, the number one Google search result for a given query gets an average click-through rate (CTR) of 31.7%. A page in spot number ten in the SERPs is likely to get ten times fewer clicks than in the first spot.
To make matters more challenging, 75% of users never go beyond the first page results.
Competition for SEO dominance is stiff. Your business has to feature within the first page results or risk losing a lot of prospects and business due to poor SEO performance.
So, what’s the key? Keywords ranking.
Choosing the best keywords ensures you consistently rank at the top of Google’s SERPs.
Here’s all you need to know about keyword rankings in Google and how you can choose the best-ranking keywords for excellent SEO performance.
What is Keyword Ranking in SEO?
In SEO, a keyword refers to a phrase or word a user enters into a search engine to get some information. Ideally, the search engine will show the user results relevant to the keywords they’ve provided.
Keyword ranking refers to the position of your website or product page in the search results for a given query.
For instance, if you’re selling electric hand mixers and have a product page for each product, your products will appear on a user’s search engine results page (SERP) based on how it ranks to the keywords they use to find your product.
Therefore, if the user searches “Where to buy electric hand mixers” and your business ranks second to Electric Hand Mixers Supply, your SEO ranking places you second to the rival business for that given keyword.
In turn, they have more visibility.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) looks into optimising the content on your website or product pages by using the right keywords to improve your ranking.
Keywords are a great source of organic search traffic, with data showing that the average keyword attracts 989 monthly searches.
Why Should You Do Keyword Research?
Keyword research is a crucial part of SEO. It helps you choose the right keywords to improve your SEO ranking and make your content or business more visible to online users.
Keyword research improves your visibility to customers by finding the right topics to write about or include in your website as part of your content strategy. It helps you establish what your target audience is looking for and optimise your content to deliver what they need.
Keyword research supports more than just content creation. It’s also essential in all promotional and marketing activities, such as email marketing. It also helps with competitive research and pay-per-click advertising.
By knowing the keywords your competitors target, you refine your content strategy and outrank them in SERPs, making your business more visible to online prospects.
However, despite organic search driving traffic, you don’t want to invest in any keywords as long as they can place you at the top of SERPs. Ideally, you want to perform keyword research to identify keywords that convert and bring actual business value.
What Has Changed About Keyword Rankings?
Google is always in an unending quest to improve its search engine and the results it gives its users. Therefore, the company updates its search algorithm several times a year, often introducing important changes affecting how businesses have ranked for various keywords.
In the past, keyword ranking and research involved stuffing content with the terms people were looking for, artificially pushing a page to the top of SERPs. Content quality was not a determining factor in keyword ranking compared to other crucial factors, such as keyword density.
This approach no longer works.
Google’s algorithm has developed significantly over the years, and it now penalises content high on keyword density but low on quality. Google aims to deliver content to its users that is relevant to their search.
Therefore, keyword research should optimise your content for people first, then bots second.
Other developments that are transforming keyword ranking include:
- The rise of voice assistants – More people are using mobile devices that feature digital voice assistants, allowing them to search by voice. Therefore, they use natural language to find content instead of search phrases.
- Answer Boxes – Google tries to give users immediate answers to their queries through answer boxes. Content that features on answer boxes is often from relevant and well-optimised sources.
- Semantically related keywords – Businesses no longer optimise content for a single target phrase. Instead, the content is also optimised for related phrases with the same meaning.
Why Understanding Keyword Intent Matters in Ranking
Keywords are often defined by their short, medium, or long-tail properties. However, to make the most out of keywords, you must understand the user’s intent.
Understanding keyword intent allows you to dive into the user’s mind and deliver what they want.
There are various ways you can describe keyword intent. Here are four common types:
- Navigational – This is where users search for a specific website
- Informational – This is where users search for an answer to a specific question
- Transactional – This is where users search with the intent to buy
- Investigational – This is where users search for information that may lead to a transaction.
These intents vary in the following way.
Let’s say you wanted to buy a phone. Your first search would be informational, using informational keywords to determine the available options. These keywords are often question-based, asking why, how, and where.
While searching for information, you may come across various interesting brands. To research them further, you may type their name in the search box to find the URL to their website, performing a navigational search.
Once you start looking at comparisons, you start an investigational search, albeit with an informational element.
When you’re ready to purchase, your keywords transform into transactional intent. Transactional keywords include terms such as “purchase” or “buy” with a precise description of what you’re looking for.
For an e-commerce business, keyword intent may be categorised into the following:
- Searches for discounts
- Comparisons with competitors
- Searches for coupon codes
- Ratings and reviews
- Searches for sales.
Google’s 2017 Search Evaluation Quality Guidelines listed four types of search queries. They include the following:
- Know – The user wants to find information or a specific answer to a question
- Do – The user wants to accomplish a goal or perform an action
- Website – The user wants to locate or visit a website
- Visit-in-Person – The user plans a physical action based on the query results, such as visiting a nearby Italian restaurant.
Understanding keyword intent ensures that you’re meeting the user’s needs when they’re searching for information.
Steps You Can Take to Choose the Right Top-Ranking Keywords
You can take the following steps to ensure you’re choosing the right top-ranking keywords to boost your business’s SEO.
This should be the first step you take to find the top-ranking keywords for your business content. Knowing your niche will give you a good idea of the information your prospects need at each stage of the sales and marketing funnel and deliver to their needs.
Alternatively, you can think about what you’d search for concerning your business and its offerings. You can use a spreadsheet to list your candidate keywords. Most keyword research tools can import data in CSV or Excel files to refine your keyword research and help you narrow down to the best choices.
While brainstorming, also think about seed keywords. These keywords don’t have a modifier and are the building blocks of your keyword list.
For instance, if you’re in healthcare, “health insurance” may be a seed keyword for your niche, with “health insurance benefits calculator” being a long tail keyword you can build from.
Consider Keyword Search Volume
Keyword search volume refers to the number of searches a given keyword has received over a selected time frame. Typically, you want to choose keywords with a high search volume since they’re popular and will get you more traffic if Google ranks you highly for them.
You also want to ensure that your keywords are relevant to your niche and attract searches in your desired location. These factors reduce the keywords you qualify to use and ensure you’re only attracting relevant traffic to your website.
Research and Compile a List of Topics You Should Cover
To improve your keyword ranking, you’ll have to provide your audience with the content they need and make your page relevant. Therefore, you must research and compile a list of content ideas that answer their questions and provide them with the help they seek.
You can check out platforms such as Quora, Reddit, and Answer the Public for great content ideas that are relevant to your prospect’s needs and concerns. Look for common questions across these platforms. These common questions are often in-demand topics your audience cares about and will rank highly in search.
There may also be subtopics your audience are interested in that will improve your page’s relevance and ranking.
For instance, a “how-to” page may answer the main question, but a “templates” section may provide complementary information that may make the content more relevant and wholesome to the reader.
Consider the Cost-Per-Click
Cost-per-click or CPC is the amount you pay when a user clicks on a paid ad. Often, businesses choose keywords to bid on and decide the maximum they can pay for them. Even if you’re not using paid ads, CPC can offer excellent insights into your keyword research.
If the CPC is high, the keyword is likelier to convert. Thus, more brands are willing to pay higher for it. If the CPC is low, the keyword’s organic traffic conversion is low. Thus, not many businesses compete to pay the highest bid for it.
The average CPC will vary based on industry. You can check your industry’s CPC benchmarks to determine what rates qualify as low or high for your niche.
Factor in SEO Difficulty
The SEO difficulty score reflects how challenging it is for content to rank for a particular keyword. Therefore, the lower the difficulty, the easier it will rank. However, the search volume may be low.
A high SEO difficulty score often indicates high competition for the keyword, meaning you’ll struggle to rank against large competitors. However, you can still outrank them if you invest in high-quality content that will provide better value to readers.
Optimise Your Content for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are answer boxes that appear at the top of Google’s SERPs. Data shows that at least 19% of SERPs have a featured snippet. They also appear at the top almost 100% of the time. Therefore, your choice of keywords should increase the likelihood of your content featuring in featured snippets.
In most cases, featured snippets are common for question-based keywords. You should combine these keywords with a long-tail keyword to provide authoritative answers that will increase your chances of being featured in this lucrative SEO section.
Check Out the Competition
Once you’ve settled on a keyword, research using Google and other search engines what the competition is doing with it. You should pay attention to the following details:
- The domains and URL – Count the exact match domains and if every URL in the top 10 results includes the keyword.
- Title tags – How does the competition incorporate the keyword in their title tags?
- The type of content that’s ranking – Are blogs, product pages, or videos more popular?
- Site authority – You can use a plugin to get the age of sites in the top 10 and other details, such as the size of their link profiles.
Using the information you have collected about the competition, look for ways to differentiate yourself and do more and better than them.
Work with a Professional and Improve Your Keywords Ranking
Keyword ranking lies at the heart of your SEO performance. It will boost organic search traffic and improve your brand’s online visibility. Contact a professional today and let them guide you on the steps you should take to stay on top of your SEO game.
Over to You…
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