This is probably one of the most important guides we have written, because having a grasp on what keywords mean, and how to pick them, is critical if you are to optimize your website in any meaningful way.

What are keywords in SEO?

They are the most important words and phrases in your website’s content that enable people to find your site via search engines. What do people type into Google when they want to find your site or another business that gives the same services? Those should be your keywords.

When you read SEO articles or receive instruction on how to improve it, one of the first questions you’ll get is “what are your keywords?” In theory, you can pick any word and optimise your site for it, but for the best results you need to understand how your potential visitors and customers are searching for what they need, and how the content on your site can help them understand that you’ve got what they want.

Photo by Chris Knight / Unsplash

What keywords are not

Although "keyword" generally refers to just a word, many people use it to also mean key phrases - that is, not a single word but an entire phrase that you include within your site. For instance, if you’re running a psychic readings website, you could choose ‘psychic’ as an important keyword, but you could also choose “accurate online psychic readings”. Which one do you think will attract visitors who are looking for what you offer? In most cases, the more specific you get, the better.

A generic keyword will have you competing with the likes of Wikipedia.

Here you can see actual businesses ranking for the more specific keyword.

What to do when you’re told to ‘pick your keywords’

  • No matter how SEO-ignorant you feel, you already have a good idea of what your customers want and how you provide it in a way that’s different/better than your competitors. That’s a good start. If you have a blog (and you should!), see which posts are the ones attracting the most visits. That’s a clue to what’s bringing people to your site.

  • If you feel lost and have no idea where to begin, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Install a free livechat tool to message users who are on your site, asking them why they are there and how they found you. Additionally, survey your current customers to understand the value they see in your product/service and how you can best transmit that value message through your website. Once you know that, then the keywords and keyphrases that you should be targeting will become much clearer.

  • Key phrases are often also called “long tail search terms”. Once you have your keyphrase, go to Google Trends to get an idea of the number of searches there are for the particular keyphrase you’ve chosen.

Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

  • If you are a MarketGoo user, when you add keywords you’ll see what the search volume is for each one. If you see an extremely high search volume, chances are that keyword or phrase is very competitive. In some industries, it is quite hard to rank for a term (ranking for a term means that your site appears in the top search results for that term).

  • In super competitive industries, you will have companies that have a huge budget for SEO, and you won’t be able to compete with them with broad keyphrases. For example, if you have an online accessory boutique, and BaubleBar will beat you in SEO rankings for broad terms like ‘gold bangles’ or ‘fashionable earrings”. However, if you have a clear purpose and value proposition, you will define what makes your product/service stand out in your market.

  • A very easy and overlooked way to develop a keyphrase is simply to localise it. You may have potential customers who are looking for services in their area, and executing a location-based search. For instance they might look for a party rental service in their area. Their search will be “party rental service in center city, Philadelphia PA”, rather than just “party rentals”.

What do keywords look like in MarketGoo?

MarketGoo users have a keyword tool included – all you have to do is go to Settings > Manage Keywords to enter the keywords you are thinking of using and you will get immediate feedback on the search volume and whether your site has already ranked for that keyword. It will also provide you with suggestions on keywords you should be using.


I optimized all the pages on my site, now what?

You’re never actually done optimizing! You may have finished optimizing each page on your site for keywords, but you also have a blog that is continuously updated and that means continuous optimization. Additionally, you should always be on the lookout to see if you are targeting the best keywords for your site. Experimenting and changing things up is also an important part of your online strategy.

Find out what keywords you should be using to maximize your search engine optimization with Rebel's SEO Tools, powered by MarketGoo. Get started for as low as $3.99/month when you purchase an annual plan.