How To Find The Best Keywords for SEO

Part 1 – Search Volume

Choosing the best keywords for SEO can mean hundreds or either thousands more visitors per month to your website. Choose keywords with little or no search volume and you may acheive top rankings but you will get little or no traffic.

Choose keywords that are too competitive and you may never acheive page one rankings and your site will get little or no extra traffic from a listing below page 2 or 3.

The first step is to create an inital list of keywords you think people would use to find your product or service on the Internet. Have a brainstorming season, look at competitors sites to see if they are using keywords in their title tags and meta descriptions. Or if you are really not sure where to start, use Google’s keywords tool and enter your website URL and Google will create a list of keywords from your site.

SEO TIP: When using Google’s keyword tool I recommend you log on using your Google account, this will give your keyword lists a maximum size of 800 instead of 100.

When using the Google keyword tool there are many columns of data you can view but I tend to just look at the Global Monthly Searches, the Local Monthly Searches and the Approximate CPC.

Create an extensive list using your own ideas and Google’s suggestions. Sort these in order with the broad match search volume largest numbers at the top. You will find that the keywords at the top of the list will have very high volumes but will be one or two word phrases that are quite general. These are normally hard to rank for and will not produce very good conversion rates. Once the local search volume gets lower than 100,000 you will see some more specific keywords.

Create a short list of highly relevant keywords with search volumes of between about 3,000 and 100,000. These numbers are just a guideline. If you find keywords with search volumes of less than 3,000 which are highly relevant to your site and you think this traffic would convert well, add these to your short list. If your site is well estatblished you may also want to consider keywords with a search volume of greater than 100,000.

Once you have a short list of say 50-100 keywords, paste them back into the Google keyword tool and select exact match. (See my previous post about exact match and broad match keyword research)

Now you have a short list with broad match and exact match search volumes and CPC. Next you need to look at the competition for each keyword to determine what needs to be done to gain top rankings.

More about competition analysis in my next post.

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Roger Weavers

Roger has been working in the telecomms and IT industry since 1973 working for international companies such as BT and Honeywell. Roger founded Sytec Computers Ltd in 1996 and provided consultancy services to a variety of UK companies. In 2001 Sytec diversified into web design, marketing and hosting and now Roger specialises in SEO.

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  • Hey Roger

    Nice comprehensive article setting out step by step what you need to do in relation to your keyword research.

    I do one thing differently I look for search volume between 800 – 3000 with a medium or low competition. This is for a non IM Niche so overall search figures are generally lower.

    Look forward to your next post.


  • Hi Paul,

    Thanks for your comment. Yes the search volume figures will vary from niche to niche. 800 searches per month on broad match may be considered low in some niches. Using low numbers like this would only be worth while if has a good conversion rate and/or a good profit per conversion.
    Low search volume keywords would be OK if the competition is low as well and therefore do not require much work.
    I look and this from a customers prospective and if I am charging them a certain amount per month per keyword the keyword needs to be profitable. If you are doing your own SEO your profit margins can be lower.

    The key is analysing the competition to find keywords you can rank on page one for.

    More about this in my next post


  • Hi Roger, great stuffs to start out on keyword searching. Looking forward to competition analysis.

  • Kevin

    Thanks for this. I’ve read a few reports on keyword research and your post aligns with that. I wish I knew when I started what I know about finding the right keywords now. I might actually be making money online.
    Looking forward to your post on competition.

  • Hi Roger,

    Wow – you have a ton of information on your site here! Awesome.
    Thanks for the lesson on keywords and seo. I’ve looking forward to your post on competition.


  • Hi Dan, Kevin & Karl,

    Thank you all very much for your comments.
    I will be posting Part 2 – Competition Analysis on Friday.

    All the best

  • Hey Roger,

    Thanks for sharing this.
    SEO and keywords are not my strong points so I welcome any information regarding these topics!
    Nice tip about logging into your google account. When I first started using the keyword tool, I never logged in but kept using the tool as is. Then one day I logged in and saw so many more results! I was like, why didn’t I do this earlier!

    Looking forward to your next post!

    Take care

  • Thanks for sharing that Roger – I always struggle to rank for my Keywords and I think you article is after highlighting a few area’s that I can improve on. It’s a fine balance between the success of Page 1 and failure of not ranking.

    Thanks for the help,

  • Hi Noel,

    Yep that exactly right. A page one ranking for a keyword with a search volume of 10,000 is far better than a page 5 ranking for a keyword with a search volume of 500,000. Look out for part 2 competition analysis later today.


  • thanks man, i really really need to find out what the best keyword for my site