SEO basics

SEO Basics 101: What Keywords Should You Target?

What’s at the core of your SEO strategy? 

Is it advanced backlink creation strategies? Highly technical on-page SEO? Some other ultra-advanced techniques that only a few people are smart enough to use?

When we talk about SEO, people want to jump straight to these advanced strategies. However, in many cases, they haven’t mastered the basics yet.

SEO basics are rarely discussed.

Many people assume that everyone knows them, but that’s simply not true.

This article will discuss the basics of SEO keyword strategy. We’ll cover:

Let’s get started!

4 Key Factors When Targeting and Tracking Keywords

How do you decide what keywords you want to target and track?

For some people, the process is as simple as guessing a few keywords they think people might search for on Google.

For others, the process is infinitely more complex. They make it seem like you need a Ph.D. in keyword strategy to rank on the SERP.

In reality, keyword tracking isn’t guesswork, but it isn’t too complicated. If you focus on the basics of keyword selection, you’ll be able to rank your pages.

Keyword selection boils down to 4 primary factors:

  • Keyword difficulty
  • Search volume
  • Search intent
  • Market trends

If you can learn and implement these keyword factors, you should quickly be able to select excellent keywords for your business.

Later in this article, we’ll show you how to weigh these factors and make the best keyword selection for your website.

Difficulty

The first thing you need to consider when choosing keywords is their difficulty.

If you try to rank for challenging keywords, you will be going toe-to-toe with businesses with far more resources than you. That means:

  • Better domain authority
  • More backlinks
  • Better on-page SEO

In other words, a tough keyword makes it almost impossible to rank. 

On the other hand, a too easy keyword might not be worth your time because nobody ever searches for that keyword (we’ll talk about volume next).

There’s a sweet spot between those extremes that will benefit your business tremendously. It’s called the Keyword Golden Ratio (or KGR).

KGR measures the number of results for an allintitle search divided by the total monthly volume of that keyword.

For example, I found the long-tail keyword “customer tracking software for small business” on ProRankTracker, which also supplies the monthly volume (in this case, 50 searches per month).

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An allintitle search on Google reveals that this keyword is included in 6 meta titles.

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This means that the KGR for this particular keyword is around 0.12, making this keyword very easy to rank.

If you can identify keywords with a KGR of less than 1, you should be able to quickly work yourway up to the top of the SERP.

Of course, the problem is finding keywords with the perfect KGR. Keep reading for some tips on how to find keywords with low difficulty!

Volume

If you target a keyword, you want to make sure as many people are searching for that word as possible, right?

Not necessarily!

Search volume is a complicated topic, but it boils down to a straightforward idea:

Make sure enough people are searching for your keyword, but not too many.

For example, let’s say you find a keyword with 20,000 monthly search volume. Naturally, you start to get excited about all those searchers finding your website! However, you might only get 0.01% of the total search traffic with a keyword at that search volume.

In other words, all your hard work on that post will only land you a whopping 2 page views.

On the other hand, let’s say you find a keyword with only 100 monthly searches. That may not seem like much, but ranking in the top position will get about 15% of the total search traffic.

That means you’ll get MORE traffic from the lower-volume keyword with LESS work!

Search Intent

One commonly overlooked aspect of keyword strategy is search intent. 

Different keywords suggest different searcher intentions. Some people are doing research online. Others are looking to buy something. Others are just scrolling through random content.

For example, let’s compare 2 similar keywords: “Adidas Superstar” and “Adidas superstar sale men’s.”

The searcher of the first keyword is probably in the early stages of the purchasing process. They’re collecting info or just looking for pictures because they don’t know what those shoes look like.

On the other hand, the second searcher is ready to buy. They’re looking for the lowest prices to make a purchase TODAY.

Being familiar with the search intent behind each keyword will allow you to prioritize searchers ready to make a purchase. It also helps you tailor your site’s content to match searchers at different stages of the process.

Market Trends

The final primary consideration when targeting keywords is your niche’s current and overarching trends.

There are 2 types of trends:

  • Cyclical trends
  • Popular trends

Cyclical trends repeat every year, and almost every industry experiences these fluctuations. 

For example, “bathing suits” experiences a very predictable yearly spike in the summer.

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You can take advantage of cyclical trends by targeting seasonal keywords a month before they spike. Getting ahead of the curve ensures that your website is up-to-date and crawled by the time people make those searches.

On the other hand, popular trends are the result of news and changes in your niche. For example, “Adele” sees spikes in search traffic that correspond with her album releases.

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You can take advantage of popular trends by writing content targeting those changes. However, don’t make these popular trends the backbone of your long-term strategy. They often fade away just as quickly as they came.

You can use Google Trends to monitor changes in search traffic on Google.

Why You Can’t Afford to Overlook Long-Tail Keywords

Once you start researching keywords with those 4 key factors in mind, you’ll quickly realize that there aren’t many low-difficulty keywords with good volume and good search intent.

However, long-tail keywords are often the best keywords to accomplish all 4 of these factors.

Long-tail keywords have 3 or more words, and they usually see way less search volume than short-tail keywords. This lower volume makes them particularly accessible for smaller businesses.

There are 3 significant advantages to using long-tail keywords:

  • Lower difficulty
  • Grater purchase intent
  • More search traffic

As we talk about these advantages, we’ll show you just how long-tail keywords can help check off all 4 of the critical factors we discussed.

Lower Difficulty

Perhaps the most crucial barrier to most people’s success on the SERPs is that they’re targeting keywords that are too difficult.

The ideal KGR is below 1.0, but many people target keywords with a KGR of 5, 10, or higher.

For most small businesses, the chances of getting a piece of the pie with a keyword that difficult is almost 0. 

However, long-tail keywords are much less difficult than short-tail keywords. 

For example, let’s consider a long-tail keyword with a monthly search volume of 100. It won’t be worth their time to target a keyword like that for a huge business, so they ignore it.

When those huge businesses aren’t competing over the smaller keywords, it clears the way for smaller businesses to get HUGE gains from them.

Don’t let the lower search volume of long-tail keywords scare you away. The lower difficulty means you’ll get more traffic in the end.

Greater Purchase Intent

Short keywords are often used by people who aren’t ready to buy something. 

When you’re just starting to look around for something, you might search for “DSLR cameras.”

Your search intent with that keyword is most likely simply to learn about cameras. You’re not ready to buy anything yet.

However, let’s jump forward a couple of weeks. You’ve done your research, and now your search term is “Cheap DSLR for beginner vlog.”

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This longer keyword represents a MUCH higher purchase intent.

Typically, longer keywords are used when people are closer to the point of purchase. If you can target long-tail keywords, you can attract people who are primed and ready to buy from you!

Search Traffic

Over 70% of all search traffic is for long-tail keywords.

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What does that mean for you? It means that people are searching for long-tail keywords more than TWICE as much as they’re searching for short-tail keywords. 

If you can target several long-tail keywords, you’re getting access to more search traffic than short-tail keywords.

It’s just a matter of finding the right long-tail keywords that relate to your audience (we’ll talk about how to do that in a minute).

Consider all the effort to get on the first page for a single high-volume keyword. You could rank in the top 3 for 5 or 10 long-tail keywords and get 5x or 10x the traffic with similar effort!

Keyword Showdown: Short-Tail, Long-Tail, or Both?

Considering everything we just learned about long-tail keywords, what does that mean for your strategy?

Should you give up on short-tail keywords and focus exclusively on long-tail? Is it worth your time to include long-tail keywords in your strategy?

The best keyword strategies blend both types of keywords. You should target a few primary short-tail keywords and many long-tail keywords. 

This blend of keyword types guarantees that you get people at all stages in the customer journey. You can attract people to your business before they’re ready to buy, but you can also catch people that are already taking their wallets out of their pocket.

Long-tail keywords are an ESSENTIAL part of any keyword strategy, but make sure to round out your strategy with some high-volume short-tail keywords.

How to Use ProRankTracker to Find Targeted Long-Tail Keywords

ProRankTracker is a highly specialized keyword tracking software with powerful keyword discovery tools.

Using ProRankTracker’s tools, you can quickly level up your keyword strategy to include long-tail keywords that are:

  • Highly relevant to your website (so you can match search intent)
  • Low traffic (which means highly specialized and easier to rank)
  • Low KGR (so you can rank in the top 3 quickly)

Before we look at ProRankTracker’s tools, make sure you sign up for the 30-day free trial, so you can follow along. 

Input Your URLs and Keywords

Before ProRankTracker can help you find new long-tail keywords, you must input your current URLs and keywords. Then, ProRankTracker can find long-tail keywords that relate to your current strategy and match your audience’s search intent.

To add keywords and URLs, go to the Add Wizard on the left-side toolbar.

Fill in all the details of your current strategy:

  • URLs
  • Keywords you’re tracking for each URL
  • Where you’re tracking your keywords (mobile, local, desktop, etc)

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Click “Save.”

Repeat this process for each URL that you’re currently tracking.

If you want more control over how ProRankTracker tracks each URL and keyword, you can use the Advanced Add tool.

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Use Keyword Suggestions to Narrow Your Focus

If you’re like most of us, your current keyword strategy is probably very broad. You have some short-tail keywords that aren’t bringing in a lot of traffic.

This is where the Keyword Suggestions tool comes into play.

At the top of the Keyword Suggestions tool, select the URL and keyword combination you want to explore. ProRankTracker will pull up a list of long-tail keywords based on the keywords you’re currently tracking.

On the right side of the screen, you can even see each search term’s current monthly search volume. You can use the search volume to calculate a term’s KGR.

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By selecting highly-targeted long-tail keywords, you can focus on searchers ready to buy right away.

Repeat this process for each URL and keyword you’re tracking. Before long, you will have a great strategy full of long-tail keywords!

Rankings Discovery

Did you know that there might be long-tail keywords for which your URLs are already ranking?

If you can discover those terms, you can maximize the efficiency of your ranking strategy by focusing on ranking them higher.

ProRankTracker’s Rankings Discovery tool does just that. After entering your URLs on ProRankTracker, it will automatically discover ALL the URLs you rank for–even if you’re not tracking them.

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Analyze the terms your site is ranking, then select the ones you want to add to your strategy.

This is a great way to ensure that you’re putting in the effort where you’ll see returns. If you’re already ranking in the top 10, pushing your rank to the top 3 will help you see MASSIVE returns.

Boosting these ranks is MUCH easier than starting from zero with another term that you don’t already rank for.

Conclusion

No matter how advanced you get in SEO, it’s important to remember the basics. In this case, the basics of keyword strategy are to never forget the importance of long-tail keywords.

The more long-tail keywords with low KGRs you can rank, the more traffic you’ll see on your website.

ProRankTracker is a great tool to help you discover and track your progress with long-tail keywords. Make sure you sign up for a 30-day free trial so you can boost your keyword strategy today!

Good luck!

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  1. […] needs to keep track of keywords that are a combination of short, medium, and long tails (read more about that here). Ideally, every keyword rank should be composed of 5 elements: a google.com rank to show the […]

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