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What Are SEO Keywords? (Beginner’s Guide)

SEO is an intimidating subject for many freelancers and beginner bloggers. But it doesn’t have to be! At the core of SEO for most bloggers and freelance writers lies the strategy of SEO keywords. But what are SEO keywords?


What Are SEO Keywords?

SEO keywords are words or short phrases you use in your writing that encompass the main idea of your article and help drive organic traffic.

SEO keywords aren’t just common terms that people use. They’re also words or phrases that search engine algorithms pick up and associate with certain niches. This means there is no solid set of conditions that make a word or phrase an SEO keyword. Essentially, an SEO keyword is anything you include in your writing that you know (or hope) people are searching for. The goal is then to capture some of that search traffic.

The more you optimise your webpages for specific keywords, the better your search ranking for that specific keyword. However, you still need to pay attention to other aspects of SEO, while ensuring Google indexes your pages and posts . You also need to make sure that you’re providing value to your readers.

But how do you find keywords to try and rank for in the first place?


What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is all about finding and gathering data on SEO keywords and using these keywords within your writing to boost your search rankings. Keyword research involves finding out how many people search for a specific keyword within a given timeframe (usually per month), along with other fairly arbitrary metrics like keyword difficulty and cost-per-click (CPC).

How Do I Choose Keywords for SEO?

You can use various tools within your keyword research. Two handy tools that are completely free to use are Google Trends and AnswerThePublic.

Google Trends

Google Trends is great for identifying search trends. All you have to do is type in a word or phrase and Google Trends shows you popularity trends in different countries and regions. Google Trends also has a handy keyword comparison function you can use to compare the popularity of various keywords.


AnswerThePublic looks for questions online surrounding specific keywords. With the questions it provides, you can come up with related SEO keywords, or even make these questions your titles and headings within your posts.

Take note that keyword research isn’t simply about finding the most popular keywords. When certain keywords are popular, they will usually be targeted by top ranking websites with lots of resources at their disposal. They might hire SEO experts to help them, or even pay for ad space at the top of the search engine results page (SERP).

This means you need to find the balance between a given search term’s popularity, and its ranking difficulty. Different keyword tools use different metrics to determine a given keyword difficulty, but it’s essentially a measure of how many people search for the term versus how many people are targeting that term.

You need to pick keywords that are relevant to your content, as there’s no point finding a great keyword that suits a different audience! But why is keyword research so important in the first place?


Why Is Keyword Research Important?

Keyword research is important because you need to target keywords efficiently. Without keyword data, you won’t know which keywords to target in order to boost your website’s search ranking.

Keyword research allows you to use data to back up your decisions when picking which ones to target in order to bring organic traffic to your website. Keyword research can also help you find other keywords you might not have thought of. This can give you more article ideas to work with as well.

Once you start to see some traffic to your website, you can perform further analysis on your website and specific pages. Doing this allows you to see how your site performs for specific keywords. With this data, you can structure your overall SEO strategy to improve your website’s rankings.


SEO Keyword Examples

SEO keywords can be loosely categorised into various different types. Below, we’ll consider two main categories of keywords: General and Niche.

General Keywords

General keywords are widely used words that are usually umbrella terms which have many subcategories. For example, keywords like “internet”, “blogs”, and even “SEO” are considered general keywords.

These keywords are usually difficult to rank for. As a rookie blogger you shouldn’t target too many of these terms directly. With such intense competition, it’s best to find other keywords. However, the more you post on your website, the more you’ll naturally include general keywords in your content.

For example, if you’re a pet blogger, you’ll find you naturally include general keywords like “pet”, “cat”, and “dog” within your posts. While you don’t want to target these keywords specifically, Google will eventually learn that your website is all about these general search terms.

This makes it more likely that your site will rank for variants of your chosen keywords within your niche, as Google will understand you provide content for a specific audience. While the effect might not be measurable, it’s one of the small things that naturally helps Google learn what your website is all about.

Niche Keywords

These are keywords that are highly targeted to a subcategory of general keywords. For example, if your pet blog focuses only on cats, you might target “best toys for cats” rather than “best toys for pets”. Essentially, a niche keyword is one that is highly specific to the industry around which your site revolves.

Niche keywords are easier to rank for and will resonate with your target audience better than highly general keywords. While there is still competition, beginners have a better chance of ranking well for these keywords than if they focus on very general keywords.

Most of your keyword research should revolve around these niche keywords. However, there are various types of keywords within this broad category.

Using the right keywords and performing effective keyword research is all part of the fun with freelance writing and blogging. It takes time and effort, but it’s one of the best ways to get more eyes on your content.

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