Choosing keywords is an essential stage in the SEO process. Select the wrong ones and, regardless of what you do in terms of on-site optimisation and off-site optimisation, you may never see a return on your investment in SEO. As well as choosing good keywords though, you need to choose the right number of them.
You shouldnât only target 1 keyword, even if you have a very small budget or think that 1 keyword covers everything that you do or sell. This is a mistake because unless itâs a highly searched for keyword, and if it is then the competition to rank well for it will be fierce and getting your site in the top positions for it very difficult, then ranking for that 1 keyword wonât attract enough visitors to your site.
You also shouldnât target lots and lots of keywords â 30, 50, 100, etc. â as the more keywords you target, the less resources you can assign to working on each of them, and the harder it becomes to rank well for any of them. Whilst you do ultimately want to rank for many keywords, to start off you need to be focused and realistic, especially if you donât have a big budget for SEO or lots of time available to create content and promote your site.
So, how many keywords should you target then? The exact number will depend on your budget and your timeframe for results, however, primarily targeting about 5 keywords (each with a monthly search volume of 100+) to start with is recommended for most small businesses. To some businesses, that might not seem a lot, but targeting 5 keywords doesnât mean that your website will only rank for 5 keywords and get traffic from 5 keywords.
This is because a keyword phrase with the same words in a different order, or with more or less âstop wordsâ (a, the, for, etc.), counts as one keyword. For example, if 1 of your keywords is âmortgage adviceâ, as well as ranking for that exact phrase, itâs highly likely that your site will also naturally rank for âadvice mortgageâ, âadvice on mortgageâ, âadvice for mortgagesâ, etc.
Additionally, and using the same example, if you create a good quality, content rich page to target âmortgage adviceâ, youâll naturally rank for lots of long-tail keywords (strings of 4 or more words) that youâve used within that content. So, if within the content you write the phrase âwhere is the best place to get reliable mortgage advice fromâ, then your site will probably naturally rank in Google for that keyword phrase too.
Very specific long-tail keyword phrases donât show up in any keyword research tools, and they may only get searched for once every 2-3 months, but theyâre very important because itâs estimated that 40% of searches online consist of phrases made up of 4 or more words. Therefore, although the individual search volumes for very long-tail keywords might seem trivial, the combined total of them is far from it.
So, with a 5 keyword starting point, the scope forâ¦[sociallocker]â¦rankings and attracting traffic is actually quite wide. Youâll find that a good percentage of traffic to your businessâs website will come from searches for keywords that you hadnât specifically targeted but which you naturally rank for. Those more specific searches tend to convert to sales better as well, because the people searching for them have a clearer idea of what theyâre looking for.
When youâre getting good results for your initial keyword selections, you can then divert some attention and resources to targeting new ones. If you take this approach â doing keyword research and selection should be done in stages â you donât have to wait so long to see results and you have more data to work with (from Google Analytics and Google Search Console) before making decisions on additional keywords.