Every website owner should have the goal of ranking well in Google. Yes, there are other ways to get customers to your website (including digital ads or social media promotion) but organic rankings are best because (a) searchers tend to trust them more and (b) it’s a lot cheaper in the long run to have organic traffic.
By way of explanation, the word organic refers to any website listing in the Google search results that isn’t an ad. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation (pronounced s-e-o) and is any work related to improving your website’s performance in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) – yes, too many acronyms I know!
Why is an SEO keyword list important?
SEO is a long-term project, so you need to plan well, and a keyword list is a vital part of that planning process.
Your SEO keyword list is one of the first things you should create as part of your SEO planning, and while no one likes doing prep work (think painting) you’ll find that a keyword list will make all the SEO work that follows a LOT easier and far more effective.
It will become your north star, shaping and guiding all the on-page and off-page SEO tasks. If you use contractors, or an SEO agency here in Christchurch, to assist with your work, then they will find a keyword list instrumental (they should still review and discuss it with you to make sure it’s the best fit for your business).
It will also help with your motivation, and while it’s not a common SEO topic, trust me, SEO work is all about the long game and there will definitely be times when your enthusiasm will wane. Having a target list and tracking your progress will keep you focused on achieving, and improving, your rankings.
What is an SEO keyword list?
Basically, it’s the list of keywords you want to show up for when someone types them into Google (or any search engine).
Each keyword on the list may be one or more words (hence why they are sometimes referred to as phrases) – in fact, it’s unlikely any of the keywords on your list should be limited to a single word. To understand why, read on.
They are words that you believe your target customers will use, and words that you believe could lead to a sale. They are words that also focus on your unique selling points, essentially any point of difference that makes you the best choice e.g. price, product etc.
We refer to it as an SEO keyword list because we don’t want to confuse it with a keyword list you would create when doing paid advertising on Google.
Your list should be restricted to around five high-value keywords, up to a maximum of 10.
So, what 5-10 keywords will be on your list? Here are five tips that can help you choose the right words or phrases.
Five tips to build an effective SEO keyword list
These tips are designed to help you build a keyword list that is usable, achievable and, most importantly, helps you attract new business.
There are paid tools you can use for keyword research but we’re just going to focus on free resources in this blog post.
- Think like a customer – Have a brainstorming session and think of phrases that a customer would use to find your product or service. You’ll be able to refine your list later but for now just come up with all sorts of expressions someone (who needs a business like yours) might type into Google.
- Aim low (at first) – Unlike Google Ads, where you can simply pay to be on the front page, organic rankings have to be earned. It’s possible your competitors started their SEO journey long before you and have a head start. You’ll need to be patient and start with keywords that are less competitive (e.g. more targeted, see #3) and build up your strength over time.
- Be specific (target your niche) – Instead of using broad, generic keywords (like a single word) to describe your service, be specific. For example, if you’re a hairdresser don’t just target “haircuts”. Instead, target a niche like “coloured highlights for blonde hair” or include a specific location e.g. “coloured highlights merivale”. It will be easier to achieve rankings for these targeted keywords (also referred to as long tail keywords) – that will not only motivate you to keep working at your SEO; it will also add to your domain authority and relevance.
- Use Google predict – To get some ideas of specific keywords that are being used by real (potential) customers, you can use Google predict. You’ve most likely already seen it in action – it suggests possible related keywords as you type in your search. This data is based on popular and recent searches in Google, and can give you some insight into the types of keywords people are using.
- Limit your list – Unless you have unlimited resources, you won’t be able to chase all the keywords you’d ideally like to. Don’t try to boil the ocean, as they say. You’ll spread yourself too thin, get discouraged and give up. Prioritise your potiential keywords to the top five (10 at the most) phrases that will target high value business, customers that are ready to buy and are a perfect match for the product or service you’re offering (like customers who type in “cheap websites” and find us, there’s no one cheaper*).
*Price, not quality – Check out our $299 Standard package to see what we mean
This is just the beginning
Just like the design and content of your website, your keyword list may also evolve over time. As your domain authority grows, you may choose to target more competitive phrases, or perhaps you’ve added a new product or service (we recently became a domain reseller, and thus started targeting “cheapest domains in nz” – type that into google and see where we currently rank, we started just two months ago at the bottom of page two).
You may also look to create new lists that target customers at earlier stages of the sales funnel.
For example, you might be a plumber. While your main list is focused on keywords such as “weekend plumber emergency” or “affordable christchurch plumber”, you might decide to create a list targeting potential customers thinking about renovating the bathroom and come up with phrases like “planning tips for bathroom renos” or “best rain showers”, and then write some blog posts around those topics.
Ready for the next step?
Once you have your keyword list done, you’re ready to go to work. To help you track your progress, why not check your website’s current ranking for the keywords you’ve chosen? You can use an online tool like this to check your position (remember to change it to Google NZ) and then download it as a spreadsheet for future reference.
We’ll cover some action plans in future blog posts or get in touch and learn more about our SEO services for NZ businesses.