Creating the right SEO keyword list is one of the first steps to defining an SEO strategy that will work. This happens during a site audit and is a strategy that informs every piece of copy you ever write. This is because keywords are the backbone of your SERP analysis and all of your SEO improvements.
Keyword lists that work need to be:
Sourcing starts with the right information streams. Any good SEO software can audit your site and tell you what it’s performing for in terms of organic search keywords. These may or may not be the keywords you want to perform for. It’s kind of like targeting a competitor in your PPC campaign. It’s a way to do it. But if you have any kind of budget, it’s not your smartest marketing spend.
Instead, let your SEO keyword search be heavily informed by a few key aspects of your industry and brand:
Your starting point for building an SEO keyword list is auditing what you’ve already got.
You can run your website through an organic search audit and find out what Google is ranking you for. Exported into an Excel spreadsheet, that keyword report will look something like this:
Once you know what you’re ranking for, you’ll want to look at your competitors. When I do this, I run them through the same report. Here’s how I perform the next steps that result in an excellent SEO keyword list.
When you copy and paste them one at a time, create a color key for each competitor and then highlight their keywords with that color on the spreadsheet. You will probably end up with several thousand cells. But, don’t despair. The color-coding is your saving grace.
It will look something like this (covered up for client confidentiality):
Next, SORT the keywords (expand selection) 1-however many. In other words, get those highest-ranking keywords up to the top of the list. Now, you can see at a glance what keywords you and your competitors are organically ranking for. You’ll see who has the #1 slot, #2, etc.
Tracking with me?
FROM HERE, you have all you need to start the SEO keyword list that you will actually use to write copy on your website.
This is where the process does become a bit manual. Combining all of the research from above on BOTH the brand and keywords, you will want to begin getting very specific about which keywords you want to use and rank them accordingly. Here are the data points I look for with each individual keyword or long-tail keyword (yes, I said individual, I told you this was excruciating):
Incidentally, I usually do this on Moz, which I open side-by-side with my spreadsheet. I analyze maybe the top 50 keywords in terms of all of these metrics. You can get 10 queries a month with a free Moz trial. I’ll use that kind of account in the example. You can see what that research would look like here:
With this analysis, you can easily see what competitors or authority sites are using the same keyword and get keyword suggestions, in case a different form or version may perform better for your site.
Because it is a secret sauce kind of thing, I won’t share any actual final keyword lists. But this is what mine look like:
Basically, I take all of the research and info from above and hand-pick the absolute best and most perfect keywords for the site. I rank these based on the SERP metrics, picking the ones that fit the brand’s current and projected traffic trends (IOW, don’t pick a 6k word for a 20-visit site).
This list will then be used as the blueprint for all SEO copy. The only caveat is to let you know that it changes. As search trends change and consumer behavior changes, this strategy requires agility and adjustment. That’s why SEO specialists are on retainer or at least check-in with a brand on a regular basis. It is a fluid process. However, with the right foundation, all of your moves will be in a winning direction.
SEO specialists or SEO consultants can be hired to help you through this kind of process. Their expertise means that they can do it faster and with greater accuracy. Hire a Writer offers SEO specialist services. You can contact us for more info on that. In addition to doing the technical dive, we specialize in SEO copy that performs. That takes this research and applies it in a useful way that maximizes your ROI by improving your website’s organic search rank. Worth it.
Take a walk through time and around the globe to learn how storytelling shapes humanity.
Humor is an underutilized writing tool.
The TikTok heating feature isn't an urban myth. Here's what you need to know.