How do I select the right keywords for SEO? (Part 1)

Keywords are an essential aspect of SEO. Here's part 1 of our guide to getting them right.

Many businesses covet a spot on Page 1 of Google for that nice boost of visibility and targeted traffic. Some engage a digital marketing agency for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services, while others go out into the trenches to discover how to play nice with Google’s algorithm. 

We’ll be covering an essential aspect of SEO today – keywords. And if your business is looking to engage a digital marketing agency for SEO services, use this newly gained knowledge to evaluate your agency. Or if you’re the DIY sort, hopefully this information will give you a good start.

Let’s dive in! 

What are SEO keywords and how are they related to your digital marketing goals?

Keywords exist for two reasons. The first is to help people find the information they are looking for on the search engine. The other is to help search engines find websites with relevant content, so that these can be shown to users.

Look at it this way. When someone searches “SEO company singapore” they are clearly looking for an SEO company in Singapore.

On the flip side, the SEO company in Singapore wants people to find them. They may include those keywords in a grammatically correct manner where relevant in their website, so Google can clearly understand that they provide SEO services (and possibly other digital marketing services) in Singapore.

Makes sense, right?

The problem arises when businesses are unsure about what keywords to use. How do you know what phrases people are searching?

Keyword research can solve that problem.

Is SEO keyword research that important?

Get them keywords right, and Google will know what your website content is about. This makes it easy for the search engine to show users your website when users search for those keywords.

But more importantly, keyword research will let you get into your customers’ heads, giving you topics that will help guide your website’s content strategy.

What do we mean by this? 

Think about it. If you know what your customers are looking for or need answers to, it’ll be easy to create landing pages or blog articles that directly address these issues.

Such content relevance will not only make it easier for potential customers to find what they want, it’ll also establish your business as an authority figure within the industry.

When you prioritize an actual human user for your website content, you’ll create valuable content that is actually helpful. And that is actually what Google wants you to do!

Some say SEO keywords don’t matter anymore

There are people who don’t think there’s a point in doing keyword research. The truth is, there is no point in doing keyword research if you’re still stuck in 2006 SEO practices – which was when quantity was seen as more important than quality. 

You’d essentially be stuffing your content with keywords. For instance, if we wanted to rank for “SEO agency”, we’d simply insert a ton of those keywords in our website content.

Keyword stuffing no longer works. In fact, you’re more likely to be penalized for doing it. 

Nowadays, factors like these are far more important to help you achieve your digital marketing objectives:

  • Mobile optimization and usability: Whether or not your website displays properly and how fast it performs on a mobile device. We’ve written about Google’s mobile-first index and optimizing your website’s page speed previously.
  • Quality backlinks: Backlinks refer to websites that link back to your site. The more high quality sites that link back, the more credible or authoritative your site is seen by Google.
  • Semantically related phrases: Optimizing your website not just for a single keyphrase, but for other related phrases as well. We’ll get into that later in this guide.

The different types of SEO keywords 

The competition is fierce when it comes to ranking, so it’s essential to understand how to choose keywords that will provide you with the best results.

There are three primary types of keywords:

Head keywords are the most competitive, followed by body keywords and long tail keywords. 

Here’s an example to illustrate what these keywords look like:


Source: Backlinko

You’ll probably get millions of search results if you do a search for “t-shirts”, but when you start specifying what type of t-shirt you’re looking for, the results you’ll get decrease, but become more relevant.

Long tail keywords are what we like to call “low-hanging fruit.” They’re the juiciest and tastiest, plus the easiest to reach up and grab.

Ideally, you want to include more long tail keywords throughout your website content. Because these keywords have the lowest competition, you’ll have a higher chance of ranking for them.

Latent Semantic Indexing: What is it?

“Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords are essentially keywords that are semantically related to your main keyword, used in a search query. These LSI keywords supplement the main keywords and act as helpers to give a stronger contextual information to the search engines and users. 

In short, an LSI keyword is a keyword (or word phrases) that has a high degree of correlation (relevance) to the primary keyword.”

Source: LSIGraph

Since we’re talking about SEO, here’s an example to illustrate this concept.

If you head over to Google right now and type in something like “SEO services”, you’ll find that Google will try and complete the search for you based on what other people look for.

LSI helps searchers find what they’re looking for, even if they’re unsure what that is. That’s why it helps to include keywords that are relevant to the ones you’re trying to rank for (also known as long tail keywords), on your website. 

Understanding what the user wants: Keyword intent

One of the most important things to understand about keywords is intent. You can do a lot once you understand the intention of your target audience.

Now, there are four different types of keyword intents. Each of these refer to what the reader is looking to achieve when they start conducting a search on Google.

If it’s hard to understand, think about how you would follow this process. If you wanted to buy a new pair of running shoes right now, how would you go about buying it?

You might first research about how to pick a pair of running shoes (informational). From there, you would want to know about the best running shoe brands (investigational). Lastly, you’d search for the exact brand and type to buy (transactional).

Need help getting your keywords right?

All this keyword stuff might sound like quite a bit of work. It is, and that’s okay because we’re here to help – part 2 of this guide is coming soon!

In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your SEO and keywords, be sure to reach out and we’ll be happy to shed some light 🙂

Lisa Tan

Lisa Tan

Lisa wears multiple hats at Appiloque - digital strategy, agency operations, and content marketing. To keep herself sane, her favourite form of entertainment is free and involves reframing reality, changing it up to something ridiculous and playing out imaginative scenarios. No, she's not mad. Yet.

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