This is a popular SEO copywriter question. So first, let’s just get something out of the way: how good do you think your search results will be if you search with just one word?

That’s right. The results will be awful.

You usually type in a few words because you know you’ll get closer to the answer you are searching for.

Let’s say that from now on, when we say ‘keywords’ we don’t mean single words, we really mean ‘key phrases’ okay?

SEO keyword selection step 1

Write down a list of the words that you would use in your copywriting to describe your product or service. Using ourselves as an example, we might choose words like SEO copywriter, copywriting services, website copywriting, and professional copywriter.

If you offer a software product, you will want to list words that describe what the product is: accounting software, small business accounting software, business productivity software, and so on.

Remember, use phrases that describe your exact service or product – don’t use single words.

SEO Keyword selection step 2

Now that you have your initial list, you need to find out which sites rank well for those keywords. Go to your search engine of choice (I’m going to use Google today) and enter your first keyword phrase.

Do the sites that show up in the results appear to be competitors, or are they something else? If they are the competition, congratulations, you have found a useful search term.

Now, Google gives you a great (and free) way to figure out more keywords. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the first page of results and take a look at the ‘Searches related to…’ section.

What you will see is a keyword goldmine. Add the keywords (phrases) that make sense for your site, and think about content you could create on your site to get a ranking against these searches.

For instance, above you will see ‘accounting software comparison’ as a related search. Could you provide a comparison chart on your site to draw traffic from that search? Of course you could!

SEO Keyword selection part 3

Repeat step 2 until you have a lengthy list of keywords, going into the related searches and seeing what other ideas appear, either for content or keywords to add to your own list.

Now you need to think about your copywriting. Which terms are you going to be able to use frequently enough on your website to impact on search?

Refine your list to take into account the best terms that gave results closest to the kind of business, product or service you will offer.

For example, our fictitious software vendor might have a list like this:

accounting software
accounting software comparison
free accounting software download
accounting software reviews
open source accounting software
personal accounting software
business accounting software
accounting software for small business

Your next job is to give your list to your copywriter and get them to start writing content that focuses on those terms.

A word of caution

Don’t bother targeting and listing misspellings. The search engines suggest corrections to users on the fly. It’s just a waste of your time doing this yourself.

Also, don’t be tempted to be repetitive for the sake of having a lengthy list. A targeted list of several search terms will yield much better results than using a long list of repetitive terms that you can’t possibly write in to a coherent page of copy.

Next in the SEO copywriter series: What’s meta data and how much of it should I use?

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