How To Choose Keywords For Free To Attract Your Ideal Customers (Without Pulling Your Hair Out)

how to choose keywords

Continuing with our SEO series, does the thought of trying to choose your keywords scare the bejesus out of you?

You know keyword research is important but when you go to do it, you tear your hair out trying to figure out which keywords you should be using.

It’s pretty hard to attract more of your ideal customers if you don’t know the words they’re using to search for what you offer.

And in the words of MOZ, it’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors. In other words, your ideal customers.

So brush your hair sassy lady. This doesn’t have to hurt. (Besides, let’s leave the baldness for the men) 😉

To win the Google war, you need a spreadsheet (and a red wine).

Well you’re going to build one anyway as we do some basic keyword research 101.

But first, here are some tips to remember before you get started.

Remember, SEO is simply….

….Figuring out which words your ideal customers are typing into the search engines and using those words on your website so your ideal customers can find you.

You don’t need to optimize for multiple keywords on the one page. Search engine spiders view each page of content as unique. And that’s why blogging is such a great SEO strategy. It allows you the opportunity to target specific keywords for each page and post across your site. You don’t need to cram all your keywords on the homepage.

Write For Your Readers First

Take this post for example. As I’m writing this, I’m not even thinking about the search engines. My aim is to ensure this blog post is engaging and compelling to my readers.

I don’t want to hinder the flow of my writing style just for the sake of SEO. I don’t want to jeopardize the readability of my blog posts just to score a win with Google. You can write for both search engines and people at the same time.

So write for your readers first and foremost….

….Then Optimize Your Copy

That means:

  • “Using keywords relatively frequently
  • Using them in the right places (page titles, headings, URLs, bold text etc)
  • Using words that are semantically related to you keyword (such as related words, similar words, grammatical variants)”

Glenn Murray, Divine Write from Practical SEO Copywriting.

All you need to do is tweak what you have already written. If you think with that mindset, you’ll be fine.

So without further ado, let’s get into figuring out how to choose the keywords your ideal customers are typing into search engines.

1. Identify Your Landing Pages

In his ebook Practical SEO Copywriting, Glenn says you should think about search engines before you write too — when deciding what pages to write. You want to identify the specific topics for each page of your website, whether it’s a product or general category page (if it’s an ecommerce site) or a blog post.

Dedicate a cluster of pages to each keyword.

For example, let’s say you are a personal trainer. You might have a cluster of pages for general health and fitness, another cluster of pages for nutrition, another for weight loss and another for personal trainer prices and so on. This would result in much more readable, natural-looking pages.

2. Brainstorm And Ask Your Friends

The next step is to brainstorm.

Write a list of all the keywords and phrases that might be useful for each page, page type or blog post.

Ask your friends what would they type into Google if they were looking for your product, service or offer?

Think about what your ideal customer would type into a search engine to look for your product or service. What problems do they have? What are they thinking? What are they feeling?

What keywords are your competitors using?

What words and phrases do they use in social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Google+?

Continuing with the personal trainer example above, you want to attract new clients. Some related keywords you may want to target are:

Personal trainer, personal fitness trainer, personal trainer classes, personal training tips, personal trainer [in X location], health and fitness, how to get fit, how to lose weight, find a personal trainer, personal training studio, fitness personal trainer, personal trainer prices, online personal trainer, boxing, bootcamp.

List these keywords into a spreadsheet.

3. Conduct Keyword Research To Determine Popularity

Next, validate the keywords using the Google Keyword Tool. This tool will estimate the average number of searches for all keywords and help you find new keywords you perhaps had not thought of. Google’s Keyword Tool provides suggested keyword and volume data.

Add new keywords suggested by the Google Keyword Tool to your spreadsheet.

Then ask yourself, are these keywords relevant to my website’s content? Will my ideal customers find what they’re looking on my website when they search using these keywords? You need to be sure about this.

Google’s Keyword tool suggests keywords and provides estimated search volume. According to Moz, “to determine volume for a particular keyword, be sure to set the Match Type to [Exact] and look under Local Monthly Searches.”

Another great tool to use is Google Trends. Let’s look at the trends between personal trainer and fitness instructor.

Google trends How to choose keywords

4. Measure Search Volume And Competition Levels

This is the tricky part. Going back to our personal trainer example, wouldn’t it be great to rank #1 for personal trainer?

According to the Google keyword tool, you can get 18,100 searches per month. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?

But be careful here. The chances of you ranking for personal trainer is pretty slim when you consider how many other websites are also competing for the same keyword. 27,400,000 according to Google and that’s just for exact matches. Oh and you’re competing with Wikipedia for the #1 spot too.

Forget about trying to rank for “personal trainer”. Not unless you want to invest serious muscle power (and dollars) into SEO for this keyword. If big brands take the top 10 results and you’re just starting out on the web, it could literally take you years to rank for it.

Leave “personal trainer” for the Fitness First’s of the world.

Instead target the long tail keyword.

MOZ says the long tail keyword make up 70% of the searches performed on the web. Long tail keywords are phrases that consist of between two and five words, usually used when searching for a rather specific item.

Long tail keywords often convert better because they catch people later in the buying cycle. A person searching for “personal trainer” is probably browsing and looking for information. They’re not ready to engage. However, someone searching for “best price personal trainer”, personal trainer Thousand Oaks” or “personal trainer boxing classes” is likely ready to do some push ups with you.

You need to assess the search volume of each potential keyword with the competitiveness of the keyword. That is, check how many times people area searching for each keyword, in comparison to other keywords.

Then check how much competition you’re facing for each of your keywords. How many other websites and web pages are also targeting the keyword? (More on this in the next post).

You are better to target a lower search volume keyword with lower levels of competition than a keyword with high search volume but also extremely high competition levels.

It’s a compromise you need to make.

Google keyword suggestion tool - how to choose keywords

5. Searcher Intent = Relevance

One thing that often gets overlooked in doing keyword research is searcher intent.

For example, what is the intent of the person who typed in “personal trainer” into Google?

Are they looking to become a personal trainer? Are they wanting to find out what courses are available? Do they want to find out what qualifications they need? Are they looking to find a personal trainer to lose weight?

Searcher intent is all about getting in the mind of the person that entered a particular keyword. What do they want? Why did they enter words in that order?

Getting tons of traffic to your website is great. But you don’t want to attract the wrong type of traffic. You want to attract your ideal customers who are looking for YOU.

You don’t want to attract random people who stumble upon your website who are looking to become a personal trainer. This will only result in your website getting a high bounce rate because those people haven’t found what they were looking for and will instantly click away from your site. And having a high bounce rate is bad for SEO.

This is another reason why you should use long tail keywords.

Another great free tool to help you with this is Ubersuggest to find out what people are actually searching for. It can instantly generate thousands of keyword ideas from real user queries.

Now I Have A Question For You…

Please take a moment to leave a comment and share your struggle with doing your own keyword research.

Do you struggle with analyzing the search volume? The competitiveness of a keyword? Figuring out searcher intent?

Be specific and I’ll do my best to answer it.

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  1. Shae,

    I liked your point about writing for your readers first and then optimizing from there. Any “content farm” in who knows where can stuff keywords into a blog post for you. You can’t lose sight of the end goal of serving your customer. Google seems to be honing in on that with each update they do.

    Great article.

  2. Thank you for this series speaking directly to my needs. As a female entrepreneur/ health coach blogging in the saturated health and wellness market, SEO is often a challenge for me. I tend to write true to my quirky nature and creative titles aren’t doing me any favors with google rankings. I’ve yet to find the balance between my unique voice and what is typed into a search bar. I’m getting better at it and this post helped me get even more clarity.

  3. This post was incredibly helpful and I’ll probably be reading it a couple times to get the concepts! I’ve been dipping my toe into SEO and learned the other day about volume and competition briefly! Love how you broke it down…I think you definitely have your target audience down! 🙂

  4. Thanks for this great article. I am just starting to understand SEO and using it to optimize posts (after I write them, like you said), and the biggest takeaway here is the long-tail keyword! I’m going to go check that out now. I always am struggling with what keywords to even use, actually! Your tips as to where to place the keywords (H1, url) was helpful too, thanks!

  5. I have followed most of the steps you outlined…and have a HUGE excel spreadsheet to show for it!

    My problem now is to work out which keywords to focus on. My approach is part-organised / part-instinct. I try to read a bit about SEO most days so that the information really starts sticking in my brain, and then going back to tweak my website based on what I’m learning.

    I know it’s a long term game, so I’m working out the analytics side too. The whole thing is a massive beast!

    I figure though, that as long as I keep my client towards to the top of my mind with everything I’m doing, that the Google rewards will come. After all, the whole point of this is to bring relevant websites to the attention of those looking for something specific. Do you think this approach is too simplistic?

    • Not at all. Keyword research is about getting inside your customer’s head. What questions are they asking? Don’t be afraid to use long tail keywords and be specific. They may not have as much traffic but you will get more targeted traffic to your site.


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