How to Determine the Best Keywords for SEO without Being an Expert

ByGeraldine R. Pleasant

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After you get a bunch of ideas from a keyword research tool, how do you identify a good SEO keyword? There are a lot of mistakes you can make when choosing a keyword that can result in little or no traffic — or even the wrong type of traffic. I’ll show you how to determine the best keywords for SEO to get more relevant traffic to your site that ends up converting.

How to Choose Keywords for SEO

Search sites in your industry, like competitors’ blogs, to see what they’re writing about. It’s a great way to uncover potential keywords you wouldn’t have considered.

Once you come up with enough ideas with a keyword research tool, narrow down your options by considering the relevancy and search volume of each keyword. The keywords chosen must be relevant to your business. You should know your products and audience well. Otherwise, it’s hard to improve relevancy.

Obviously, volume is important. You want more volume, but it’s not like PPC keywords where you need as much volume to be successful.

You want your content to be interesting to your audience. With PPC, you want keywords directly related to buying intent. With SEO, keywords can be related to audience interest, with buyer intent as a secondary factor.

Obviously, if you can rank #1 for a buyer intent keyword, great, but that’s hard to accomplish, which is where PPC comes in (You can pay money to show #1).

You want to get your audience interest and engaged with you. Therefore, choose the right keywords that attract prospects that are higher in the marketing funnel and nurture them to buy over time.

For example, in PPC you want to target “where to buy dog leashes” or just “dog leashes.” In SEO, you want to target “what to look for in dog leashes” or “retractable dog leashes vs normal dog leashes.”

Similarly, there’s usually a noticeable difference in search volume and competition between SEO and PPC keywords:

  • dog leashes (9,900/119)
  • best dog leash to stop pulling (10/1)

How to Find the Best Keyword for SEO

So now, you’ve discovered several keywords You may go after based on relevant and search volume. How do you narrow it down to a single primary keyword?

I look into competition and volume. For competition, I use the Intitle competition method. This method allows you to see how many posts on Google are using your specific keyword in the title. If you’re targeting a keyword, you’re going to put it into the title — it’s the #1 SEO rule.

Open an incognito window, go to, and search intitle:”keyword.” Google lies about the amount of search results for the term on the first page so you have to go to the last page to find the real number of search results for that term.

Competition metrics also come from whatever tool you use (SEMRush, ubersuggest is getting more reliable, Moz, etc.). But try to spot check their numbers with intitle.

After you have competition and volume, determine a good balance. Ideally, you want high volume, low competition.

In reality, you’ll likely have to go after low volume keywords because they have low competition. Low competition often wins in SEO because you’d rather show up on the first page for 10 searches a month than on the fifth or sixth page for 50 (or 10,000) searches a month because no one checks the sixth page of search results. I look for long tail keywords since they have a nice balance between competition and volume.

If you’re still having trouble deciding which keyword to go with, look at your Domain Authority. If you have a strong domain authority, that helps you rank higher for the higher competition keywords. Wikipedia shows up at the top of many searches because of their authority. If you’re a beginner and you don’t have authority or links, stay below a Competition or Difficulty metric of 50 out of 100 (SEO tools will give you this metric).

How Planning and Strategy Matter into Choosing Keywords

If you’re building an SEO pyramid, planning is crucial. The pyramid makes you write content around related keywords.

If you’re going after keywords that are seasonal in search volume, planning is crucial. Back to the dog leash example, people are more interested in buying leashes in the spring and summer when they can walk their dog, so volume will be higher those seasons.

I write my publishing schedules quarterly. Most of my clients publish two to four posts a month, but frequency depends on your capabilities.

A lot of times, the more keyword research you do at a time, the more you uncover. Doing one-off keyword research can be less effective because you can find many more keywords and uncover gaps with a large chunk of time spent building the whole keyword universe.

A Common Beginner SEO Mistake to Avoid

Beginners often go for high-volume off the bat. It’s attractive to see a 10,000 searches a month keyword. You want to rank for that, but as mentioned, you’re not going to get as much volume if you’re showing up on the 5th page as you are showing on the first page for less searches a month.


SEO keyword research more art than a science. Use the keyword research tips mentioned here, and you’ll have a higher chance of obtaining more search traffic and converting that traffic into sales. What was the most useful tip you took from this article? Let me know in the comments below.