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How to Find Keywords For Effective SEO

Updated on May 21, 2012

A combination of different SEO strategies and factors must come together to create a high ranking for your web site, page or blog.  Keywords, usually seen as the cornerstone of any search engine optimization, are words used to catalogue, index and find your web pages.  This means that users or searchers looking for certain information type in certain words or keywords  into the search engine box and then, the search engine  returns results (pages) based on these  keywords. The searcher then clicks on the first results until the wanted information is found.

In other words, keywords are tools used to help you improve your search rankings. Their strategic use in Internet marketing is one of the most important search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

A highly visible and successful site depends on your understanding of keywords (choosing the right ones, where to find them, best ways to use them). Using the right keywords may list your page among the first 20 sites returned by search engines and the wrong keywords may bury your pages under hundreds of results returned before your site.

How to choose the right keywords?

Before you can choose the right keywords, you need to know how keywords are classified. There are four main types:

Ø Brand Keywords – are those keywords contained in your business name, business description or specific category of business.

Ø Generic Keywords – are keywords which are not directly associated with your company brand, but those which indirectly describe what you are offering or selling. For example, if you are selling clothing on your web site, then words such as clothing, T-shirts, dresses and swimming suits may be generic keywords.

Ø Pay-Per-Click Keywords – purchasing keywords that you pay a fee to use.

Ø Organic Keywords naturally occurring keywords that you stumble upon and which seem to spontaneously appear in search results.

Another classification distinguishes between two main keyword terms:

Ø head terms – one or two short keywords in length that tend to have a very high search volume.

Ø tail terms – longer keyword terms or Long Tail Keywords, typically three or more that tend to have a low search volume compared to head terms.

Brainstorming: Broad keywords vs. Specific Key Phrases

The most competitive keywords usually require a paid keyword campaign even to come close to top ranking. These may also be your option, but you will more likely succeed if you brainstorm specific key phrases based on broad terms. Keyword optimization assumes thinking in terms of both broad keywords and deep phrases.

More specific keywords will probably draw smaller amounts of traffic, but the traffic that Long Tail keywords draw is based on visitors who are more likely to reach a conversion goal you've established for your site. Therefore, it is easier to achieve organic SEO with specific Long Tail keywords.

Keyword phrases are longer than single keywords but they are used in the same way and because they are specific, it is easier to rank high. According to some SEO experts, phrases containing two to three words are optimal.

Organic keywords

Gaining organic ranking can take four to six months or longer. Of course, there are exceptions where the process can take only a few hours. Using Google Analytics helps tracking the keywords that lead visitors to your pages. Google Analytics makes it possible to see how PPC (Pay-Per-Click) keywords draw traffic, but also what keywords still draw traffic without your investment.

Organic keywords are words associated with your web site, web page, blog, product or company. For example, a teacher might include various keywords about the area in which he or she specializes, but the keyword "teaching" won't necessarily generate high traffic unless it is combined with more specific keywords. If the teacher specializes in teaching English language, then the word  "teacher" might be an organic keyword and "English language" might be the key phrase that the teacher bids for in a PPC service.

Keyword research

Keyword research is very important for a successful SEO campaign and should never be taken in a carefree manner. The first step is making a potential keyword list based on search volume – the number of times that users perform searches on a certain keyword over a period of time. Making a keyword list ensures a mix of keyword terms and thereby better chances for your SEO efforts; keywords with little search volume and those with rankings dominated by well-established authority sites will most probably damage your SEO.

How will you know which words or keywords have little or high search volume?

There are different keyword research tools and services which can help you with your SERPs. With the help of keyword suggestion tools you can find the right keywords for your site, check how competitive they are and whether they are popular, and most important, you can find some unexpected keywords that have low competition but are completely relevant to your site (see Long Tail Keywords).

Keyword density

Keyword density is a ratio or measurement of the number of times your keywords appear on the page vs. the total number of words on this page. Keyword density is not a 100% defined term, but most SEO experts agree that the right keyword density is around 5% to 7% (but not more than 10%).

If your content on a given page consists of 1,000 words and your single keywords (not key phrases) appear 10 times on that page, then your keyword density is 1%.

A text content consisting of 2,000 words (including tags) with keywords appearing a 100 times, has a 5% keyword density. These 100 keywords should be distributed throughout the page content carefully (you can't just scatter the words all around the text and expect high results).

For example, this article that you are reading counts about 1613 words. The keyword KEYWORD(S) (singular and the plural of the noun) is used about 85 times throughout the text (see also keyword placement). If we divide the number of times the keyword was used with the total amount of words in the text, we will get the percentage of the keyword being used in the content of this page:

85 ÷ 1615 = 0.0526

0.0526 x 100 = 5.26 %

So, the keyword density of the chosen primary keyword for this article is cca. 5 % .

Keyword placement

Once you find keywords that are right for your site, you must use them properly to get the best results, that is, to gain any value from them at all. After you have calculated the right keyword density for your content, you must put those keywords in the right places throughout the whole text. Optimal keyword placement includes keywords in:

Keywords are the cornerstone in your SEO campaign.
Keywords are the cornerstone in your SEO campaign.

Ø title tags (having keywords at the beginning of the title tag is optimal). Title tags may be the most important SEO tags for a website. Different search engines allow different number of characters for title length. For example, Yahoo! allows up to 120 characters (including spaces) while Google allows up to 66 characters. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommends that your titles are not longer than 64 characters.

Ø alt tags in graphic links (alternative attributes that refer to the text you may see in place of graphics)

Ø meta description tags. The value of meta description tag is not the same for all search engines. It seems that Google gives very little importance to meta description but Yahoo! does put weight on meta description text and uses that text directly under the page link in SERPs (search engine results pages). A meta description tag should be around 25 to 30 words (150 characters), include important keywords but it should differ a little from the text included in the title tag.

Ø anchor text. This is a text found on a given web site which is actually a hyperlink. Why is the use of anchor texts one of the most important search engine ranking factors? When a search engine crawler examines your web page, it follows all the links that you have on that page. Text-based links are an advantage because search engine crawler sees not only the link to another relevant page, but also the topic and the keywords.

Ø header tag content. This is important if you own your own website. Headers indicate the topic of a page and what the body text is about.

Ø body text. This is the text between headings or simply your article. Keywords should be used once in every paragraph or two. Another suggestion is to use them in the introductory part of the article, 2-4 times in the middle of the text and once in the conclusion.

Ø URLs . The URL (Universal Resource Locator) is the address of your web site on the Internet. URLs should be descriptive and short (not longer than 5 words, if possible). In short, you should include your keywords in page URLs because they also give searchers the idea of what to expect on your page.

Beware of keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the practice of overloading your site with keywords in order to improve search rankings. Yet, the result is quite the opposite because search engine crawlers use an algorithm to determine whether the keyword density is reasonable. If the crawler finds that the number of times that you used your keywords is more than your page can support, then you get a low quality score, dramatically drop deeper into search engine and even end up with your content being completely removed from search results.

Therefore, be very careful in how many times you include keywords in title, headings, tags, text, links and body of the text.

An SEO handbook: a great source for beginners

Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies
Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies
This book can help you find out what drives search results and traffic to websites, select keywords and phrases, match meta tags and keywords to page content and other SEO tips. Google AdWords gift card worth $25 included.

Search engine optimization may sound a little overwhelming at the beginning, but if you take your time to study the process, things will come into place. SEO keywords (organic and long tail keywords, keyword density and placement) are just one aspect of SEO.

If you'd like to learn what SEO really is, you can check out interesting and helpful SEO quotes collected from books written by most popular SEO experts.

Copyright © vox vocis. All rights reserved.


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    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      You're right, SEO has changed a lot since I've written this hub. The main keywords should not be repeated too often and synonyms should be used instead. Thank you for your comment :)

    • Butch Tool profile image

      Butch Tool 

      5 years ago from Southern California

      I wouldn't have thought you would need to add the keywords into the text so often. I figured 2-3 repetitions was enough, particularly for long tail terms. I mean, if you have a 4-5 word term, it seems like it would look very awkward to try and place it 50 times into an article.

    • OakMark London profile image


      5 years ago from London, UK

      There are some d tools out there that will lwt you easlily find keywords. I like to use Long Tail Platinum but if you fancy a free one you can use free google tool - its a bit more work but will get you the results eventually

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      SEO and all related was news to me, too when I first started writing online three years ago. I must say that SEO still feels a bit overwhelming, especially after all the Google "animal" updates. Keyword research remains one of the most important aspects of optimization. Unfortunately, it's time-consuming, but necessary. I'm glad the hub was comprehensive and helpful. Thanks for the comment, Suzie :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice Tips

      Voted UP

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi vox!

      Great comprehensive guide to SEO stuff! It has all been news to me as anew online writer, getting to grips with all the terminology. Your article is brilliant for anyone wanting to know all the basics and more!! Look forward to reading more from you! voted up more and shared! :-)

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hi, Chris! Thanks for the compliments and the vote, too. Keywords will always be important regardless of all the changes and updates.

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @ShaamCA: I'm glad you found this hub clearly explained the use of keywords :) Good luck with your writing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Jas! Even post-Panda and Penguin, it looks like your advice in this article (e.g. keyword density) is still very relevant. Whew! And on top of the content, it was just very well-written too. Voted up and stuff.

      I will share on my site! Aloha!

    • ShaamCA profile image


      8 years ago from India

      Great Tips , definitely keywords are very important and your post has clearly explained its real use , thanks for the share.

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks, Ricky! It's not easy to find the right keywords, especially if you are using free keyword tools. We're in the same shoes actually.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      8 years ago from West Virginia

      This is another very useful article Jasmine. I try to find the right SEO all the time. I find it hard to find the perfect combo of key words cause it appears that one wrong word can effect your traffic. Just when I think I have it, something happens or changes. Very useful and wise information Jas, great job:)

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hm, I don't understand why it tells you to avoid long tail keywords. Most SEO experts and successful copywriters will tell you to use them. Keyword research is not easy, but it certainly pays off. Attracting traffic is even more difficult and even more rewarding. I'm really glad you found this hub useful, Tammy!

      P.S. Where else do you write?

    • tammyswallow profile image


      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you so much for writing this Vox. I write for another site and it tells me to avoid long tail key words. I could not find a good explanation until now what that meant. This is great SEO help!

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi, Luisa. Generally, the best option (in my opinion) would be 100 times (1%). However, some people go up to 3% (300 words - I'm referring to 1000 word texts). Anything more than that would be exaggerated. I treat every phrase as if it were a single word when doing keyword research or working on keyword placement and density.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great post! I have a question about keyword density: What about keyword phrases instead of single keywords? If I have a 1000 words text, how many times should I add my two words keyphrase? for example, "financial planning". 50 times? or 25 times since it´s two words... What if I am working with a long tail keyphrase that has more than three keywords, for instance. Thanks for your answer in advance!

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @GoodLady: I'm glad you found this hub helpful! SEO just seems like science, but with a little effort and patience, you will get the grip of it and maybe even teach others in the future :)

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      8 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Good teacher. Needing to get a grip on this new science, your Hub was a helpful prelude to all that learning. Simply presented, well written first steps to 'getting' SEO and keyword usage. Thanks.

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @macteacher: I'm glad you found the article useful.

      A word of motivation: everybody was a newbie once :)

      If you put your mind to it, you'll reach your goals!

    • macteacher profile image

      Wendy Golden 

      8 years ago from New York

      Informative and helpful hub for a newbie learning the ropes of SEO and keyword usage. Thanks!

    • htodd profile image


      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the nice info

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Great that it was useful go to work :-)

    • BMG profile image


      9 years ago from timor laste

      great information....This kind of story that has me waiting for..very helpful...

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      There is so much to learn CMHypno but if you have the will, you can learn just about anything.

      Thanks, Rebecca - I was thinking whether I actually managed to explain things in plain language :-)

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 

      9 years ago from Canada

      well done, hope to read more like these, you have talent for explaining this.

    • CMHypno profile image


      9 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Interesting info on SEO and keywords - so much to learn!

    • vox vocis profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank for the comments AngelaKaelin and fucsia. I am glad you found the hub useful.

    • fucsia profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks ! I have to learn so much about this topic...Your Hub is very useful and clear.

    • AngelaKaelin profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      Great basic SEO info.! Very useful!


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