How to Choose Keywords for SEO Success

Eric Postma

Selecting the right keywords is a critical part of developing inbound marketing content for your website. Keywords allow you to tap into your customers’ path to purchase by helping you understand the customer’s intent and learn about what challenges, problems, and opportunities they’re facing.

Choosing keywords for search-optimized content can be a challenge, as many marketers have difficulty understanding what keywords will lead to the most qualified organic traffic. For instance, it may be tempting to select your keywords by popularity, but there are pros and cons for each side of the spectrum:

  • More popular keywords might lead to more search traffic but are very difficult to rank, due to the amount of content already on the web.
  • Less popular keywords might be easier to rank but won’t result in much traffic.

For the best chance at attracting qualified traffic to your site, you’ll need to understand keywords from three different angles:

Keyword Volume

This refers to the number of searches this keyword appears in.

Typically, this is defined as the number of searches per month or per week. You want to use keywords that are used frequently so that your content can get in front of as many searchers as possible. However, volume isn’t everything. There are plenty of keywords that have a high volume but won’t provide an opportunity for your content to rank because of the competition level. Which brings us to…

Keyword Competition

Competition provides insight into how many other websites also rank for your target keyword. As competition increases, it will be more and more difficult for your content to rank highly for the target search term.

This is where you get into the concept of long-tail keywords: words or phrases used in search that are longer and/or more specific than most keywords (e.g. “blackleg resistant canola varieties” vs. “canola varieties”).

There are high-volume keywords that are responsible for a large number of searches, whereas long-tail keywords are responsible for a lower number of highly valuable searches. Long-tail keywords are important because the competition level will typically be lower (fewer marketers trying to rank for these keywords), and they are important signals of search intent.

There are a number of tools available to help you research volume and competition. At Think Shift we regularly use SEM Rush, Wordtracker, Google Trends, and Keyword Planner to help us determine our target keywords.

Keyword Relevance

This is where you need to apply some critical thinking. Relevance is your determination of how relevant the keyword is to your business. You want to ensure that you are using keywords that:

  • are connected to your business or product offering
  • focus on your target audience

For example, a marketer working in an agriculture company selling seed might research keywords related to “corn.” This digital agrimarketer would find a report looking like this:


In this example, “corn” appears in an estimated 135,000 Google searches in the U.S. The competition level is low on this keyword because there aren’t a lot of corn marketers out there trying to rank for it (points to the low margins on consumer commodity products).

We see a lower number of searches for “corn seed” (3,600 per month) or “seed corn” (1,900 per month), but these searches are much more relevant to the agricultural seed marketer. Even lower in volume are phrases like “how many bags of corn seed per acre” (110 searches per month) or “Roundup Ready sweet corn seed for sale” (110 searches per month).

These keywords have some competition, and low volume, but they are highly relevant if you are selling Roundup Ready sweet corn seed, and they offer the opportunity to connect with a high-intent searcher.

Keyword Success Triad

Venn Diagram

This brings us to the Keyword Success Triad.

The right keyword represents a delicate balance of volume, competition, and relevance. When you are able to do this successfully, you hit the sweet spot where you find keywords with high volume, low competition, and perfect relevance to your business objectives.

With these perfect keywords folded in to your content strategy, you can produce website content that will help you achieve higher search engine rankings while increasing your odds of attracting high-intent searchers.

A keyword-focused content strategy is just one way marketers can succeed in agribusiness. Read our Growing Digital Ebook to learn more about the seven pillars of digital marketing for agribusinesses.


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