The Blog: Finding The Right Keywords for SEO

Keyword Hide & Seek


If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it fall, does it make a sound?  

We have all heard this question. It is still prescient in this digital age. Perhaps we could update it: If an e-commerce website selling T-shirts with cliché phrases on them, cannot be found on a search engine, does it exist? From a business perspective, it would make no difference if it didn't.

What about a site optimized with keywords that are spelled incorrectly? 

These days, Spellcheck may be on every device, but it doesn't stop mix-ups from happening. 

Site owners really need to pay attention to their keywords; that review site for 'trendy London wine bars' will be attracting the wrong kind of visitors to its subpage for craft b ea rs, if no one double checks the spelling.

It is not just about making mistakes when it comes to SEO. The slightest deliberate change to phrases can make a huge difference.

To get a slight idea of the impact of small differences to phrases,   adding a plural S to the term burgers restaurants for searches in major global capitals, changes the number of results returned by millions.  Finding the right keywords therefor takes precision. As soon as we get this right, we have the foundations for a formidable digital marketing content strategy.

Understand The Importance Of Keywords. 

Keywords are the phrases and words on your website that you have chosen to focus on for SEO, because you believe that they will attract the most customers to your website from search engines. 

We all understand the idea that if you are selling baseball caps that customers need to be able to find your website when they type in the term 'baseball caps' on a search engine.

However, it's not a simple as that, most phrases can be worded in hundreds of ways. To get this right, we need to jump into the shoes of our customers and consider the different terms they could use to search for a product.   Then we need to narrow these phrases down to ones that are the best value. 

These terms will differ from place to place, depending on factors such as geography, local dialects, convenience, plus countless other individual idiosyncrasies.   This is why it is not as simple as just thinking of the most obvious phrases.

After identifying a group of phrases to narrow down from, choosing the right phrase is about more than just the number of searches (the volume).

We can see from the results   that more people globally use the term baseball caps than hats,  but that doesn't necessarily mean that term is the best value for a small store in Kansas. 

Picking the right keywords is about finding a happy medium between search term volume - how many people are searching for the term, and search term competitiveness - the number of other websites optimizing the term. 

A phrase having a high search volume doesn't necessarily mean that your website will be seen more times if you optimize for it.

This is because terms that have a lower search volume and fewer businesses optimizing for are easier to appear higher in the search results for.

A front-page search engine listing for a less popular term may attract more site traffic than a listing several pages lower for a term with a higher search volume:  

we know that 92% of traffic from search results on Google goes to the websites on the first page.

This is not to say that site owners shouldn't be ambitious but SEO is cumulative, requiring momentum and time. A site owner starting on their SEO needs to set realistic expectations and build towards the most competitive phrases but only if they are worth the time and effort.

Cocktail SEO

SEO tools like rankingCoach help the user to pick the right words for their business by showing them the search volume and competitiveness of terms.   rankingCoach shows that the terms we might assume have the best value are not always the right ones for SEO.

For example, if I open a cocktail bar in Brooklyn I might assume that optimizing my website for the term 'cocktail bars New York' would at the very least get the highest volume for searches on Cocktail bars in this city.

According to the rankingCoach tool this isn't the case, the term 'New York cocktail bars' has far fewer searches than other terms with the same point of reference.


Search Term                              Approximate monthly search volume


cocktail bar Brooklyn                 210

cocktail bar NYC                        210

cocktail bar New York                 20

Brooklyn drink                              30

Best bars in Brooklyn                 210


Information was taken from rankingCoach keywords tool for site located in the USA 26.07.19

Clearly residents of New York go for the easier to write 'NYC' for speed and to exclude results that might include the state of New York; after all New York to Niagara Falls is a long drive for a drink.

As is often the case, major cities like New York, Mexico City, Tokyo and Paris, tend to have higher volume for more specific business location searches than in smaller cities.

T his is because people living in major metropolises are looking for bars and restaurants nearby like the rest of us. So the city name is far too general.

This is evident in the search results where 'cocktail bar Brooklyn' and  'best bars Brooklyn' have around the same traffic as 'cocktail bar NYC'. 

With this data in mind, which phrases should we optimize for? The two Brooklyn phrases with the same search volume as 'cocktail bar NYC will be a better choice for optimization than 'NYC' because the people searching for this phrase will be more interested in bars in Brooklyn. 

Also, the bars in the other parts of New York will be less likely to optimize for the Brooklyn phrases so they will be less competitive. I hope this example has given you some better ideas for choosing the best keywords, or at the very least, a good idea for a Cocktail!

It may take some trial and error to get this right.   Search tools like rankingCoach, make this process much easier, helping the user to understand the specific keyword nuances of their language industry and the target region .   Start your free trial now


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