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Keyword Selection for SEO: What to Do if You Are a Beginner

keyword seo research

Keywords are an important part of any SEO strategy. Optimizing your website for specific words helps you take control of search results with what you will rank for and helps identify a target audience based on the search queries in which you want to rank.

Choosing the right keywords, especially at the start of your campaign, is important to your success. As your campaign progresses, you will begin to notice which keywords are having success, which keywords are improving and becoming more successful, and which ones need improvement.

That said, if you are a beginner to SEO, you might wonder where to start? How can you be sure that you are choosing the right words to identify your brand and business?

Let’s take a look at 4 steps you should follow to choosing the right keywords for your first SEO campaign.

Step 1 – Set Goals

Before you can start an SEO campaign and actually choose your keywords, you need to identify your goals for that SEO campaign.

What is your purpose for starting an SEO campaign?

Are you trying to increase traffic, get more customers and higher revenue, or is there another metric you are looking to improve?

Remember: your goals may change or adjust over time. You might start by trying to increase traffic by 50%. But where do you go once you hit that goal? You set another one!

Once you achieve one of your goals, set a new one, or alter that one that you have reached. If your goal was a 50% traffic increase, take that new number and try for another 50% increase. Perhaps you have reached your traffic goals, but haven’t seen any increase in your conversion rate. Set another goal! This time, focus on your conversion rate.

You have to ask yourself a few questions when setting goals so you can be as specific as possible.

How quickly are you looking to see results?
Who is your target audience?
Are you looking for people to complete a purchase or trying to increase brand awareness?

The more specific you can get with your goals, the more likely you can produce a keyword list that targets those goals.

Step 2 – Mix Head Term and Long-Tail Keywords

Mixing up head terms and long-tail keywords starts with an understanding of keyword difficulty, what both types of keywords are, and what they do for SEO.

Head term keywords are short, more general, keywords, usually one to three words, that have a higher volume and usually come with higher competition.

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific phrases that have a lower search volume, but also less competition.

keyword competition research

To have a successful SEO campaign, you need to have a combination of both. Head keywords are better for long-term campaigns and strategies that build over time as you hone in on the competition and work to improve your rankings among the crowd. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, can be quick to produce results because of the lesser competition.

Keeping both types of keywords in mind, you will use this to help construct your keyword list. In the beginning, your keyword list will likely be lengthy because you want to take everything into consideration.

Get ideas of what consumers in your industry may be searching for. Look at the keywords your competitors are ranking for. Using online keyword research tools can help you find additional keyword ideas and get some actual facts behind keywords, like search volume. This can help give you a better idea of which keywords you should begin targeting.

Finally, put all of your potential keywords into a list for easy comparison.

Step 3 – Narrow Down Your Keyword List

Your first keyword list is your master list, all of your ideas collected together. This is not going to be your final keyword list.

Brainstorming and creating a master list is simply a way to get all of the information in front of you in an organized way. Your next step after that is to evaluate the data from the keywords selected and start narrowing things down.

There are several factors to consider when narrowing down a keyword list to make it more focused.


Search volume is how often a search term or phrase is searched. This can help you get an idea of how much traffic you can get from a particular word or phrase. Search volume can vary at different times, however, so keep that in mind when reviewing the data.


The level of competition for each word is another important factor. The higher the competition, the harder it will be to rank for the word. Often times, the highest volume keywords are also the ones with the highest competition level, so you need to review both statistics to determine which keywords are worth targeting.


It’s not just about how relevant your keywords are to the industry, but how relevant they are to your specific brand and your target audience. You might look at keywords with high traffic and low competition and think it would be an easy way to get rankings fast, but if the word doesn’t have anything to do with your brand, it may not be worth including on your final keyword list.

Current Rankings:

When making your keyword selections, consider where you currently rank for certain words and phrases or if you currently rank at all. If you already have some rankings for certain keywords, it can help you get off to a good start in your campaign and have momentum from the beginning.

Step 4 – Choose Your Top Keywords

You’ve done the research. You reviewed the keywords on your list of narrowed down candidates. Now it’s time to set that final list that you will use to start your campaign.

Your top keywords should be personal choices, words that you have reviewed to give you the highest likelihood of building results, increasing rankings and traffic, and leading to more business for you and your brand. These are the words that you feel are the best fit for your business.

Remember that the words you start within your campaign may not be the ones that you finish with and that an SEO campaign takes time to build results. Some keywords will continue to improve with time, but there are others that you may discover are not perfect for your list after some trial periods. Your first keyword list doesn’t have to be completely successful, but it should build a foundation with a solid number of successful keywords.

At 1Digital Agency, our SEO process starts with extensive keyword research to find the best opportunities for you to improve your rankings and achieve success. Contact us today to learn more about how we can get you started on an effective SEO strategy.

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