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  • Writer's pictureJean Dion

Three Attributes of An Exceptional Keyword for SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) relies on the targeted use of keywords. These terms and phrases help search engine bots (including Google's) serve up the right pieces of content in response to user queries.

It all sounds so simple. But if you've ever sat down to pick keywords and felt stumped, you're certainly not alone.

With time and experience, choosing the right terms will become second nature. But until then, education is key. This article will help.

Successful keywords tend to share three attributes. Let's walk through them one by one.

Successful SEO Keywords Are Actually Terms

Imagine that you run a dog-food company. You sell both canned food and kibble, and you want to make sure everyone knows about the delicious items you sell. You might be tempted to create content around the keyword "kibble."

Chances are, you're better served with keywords such as:

  • Organic kibble

  • Canned beef for dogs

  • Chicken kibble for small dogs

  • Canned food for picky dogs

It's perfectly acceptable to pack one, two, or even three words into your one target keyword. Doing so could help you shoot ahead of your competitors and stand out.

The web is competitive, and search engines tend to value content others have appreciated. If you're writing something brand-new, you're likely competing with content that's been available for months or even years. And the pieces that pop to the top of results have plenty of links pointing to them as well as a history of grabbing clicks.

If your target keyword is short, many others have likely used it too. But if you hit on a perfect combination of words, you could stand alone in your field. And as you garner attention (and clicks), you could rank for those shorter terms in time.

To return to our example, if the content about "organic kibble" does very well, we could eventually rank for simple "kibble" too.

Successful SEO Keywords Are Specific

As you perform keyword research, you might stumble across a valuable term or phrase that your competitors aren't using yet. If it doesn't adequately describe who you are or what you do, it's best to leave that opportunity behind.

To return to the dog food example, you might discover a spike in searches for rawhide dog treats. While you could talk about how your dog kibble is better than the best rawhide out there, customers actually looking for a snack to occupy a chewing dog won't be happy to read your content, and they'll click away quickly. When that happens, you'll lose your chance to rank.

Any keyword you pick must be directly related to the content you plan to write. Don't be tempted to shoehorn in things that don't fit.

Successful SEO Keywords Aren't Too Competitive

Popularity should guide your keyword decisions, but balance is important. Choose a term everyone is using, and it will be hard to break free of the pack.

Google's keyword planner offers insights about monthly search volume and bid costs. If your dreamed-of keyword has plenty of clicks and a high price tag, it could be too valuable with all of your competitors. Aiming your sights a little lower could be wise.

The perfect keyword will have moderate keyword volume and low costs. Plenty of people are using that term to search, and few companies are building paid ad campaigns around that term.

Don't Skimp on Research

Your keyword investigation is a critical part of the writing process. The terms you choose will guide what you call the piece, what subheads you use, and what calls to action you suggest. Don't put research at the end of your writing to-do list. Start here and ensure that all of your writing work isn't wasted.


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