Why keyword selection is important for SEO

Selecting keywords is one of the most important aspects of SEO.

They are crucial for improving search engine rankings, but it can be hard to do.

Why? Because there are hundreds of keywords related to your business.

Even if you know exactly what you want to search for, it can be difficult to determine exactly what keywords you should be using because there are so many options – from very specific terms to general phrases.

What is a keyword?

A keyword is a particular piece of text that a search engine crawls and extracts information from.

They are the words used when a user enters a query into the search engine and it also describes the content on your page or post.

It is the link between what the user is looking for and the content that resides on your page.


A keyword (sometimes referred to as a search query or keyphrase) is a word that defines the main theme of the content on your page or post.



If you use overly generic keywords, your page will likely be lost in the massive amounts of content on that topic.

If your keywords are too specific, you may miss out on those that are not using that overly-specific text.

Why are keywords important?

Keywords are important for several reasons.

First, they tell search engines what the content you’re publishing is about. If you have a sports shoe company but have a lot of unrelated content about sports injuries on your site, it won’t be as useful to the search engines as if you had more relevant content about sports shoes.

Second, having relevant keywords in the title can help rank websites more easily. For example, if a website has a great keyword in the title, then people are much more likely to click on the page.

Third, search engines are constantly changing their algorithms, so the techniques used to create more effective content are also changing.

Google, and other search engines, will continue to modify their algorithms but until searching through written text goes away, there will still be a need to match what a user enters into the search engine with the text you have written on a page. And one of the ways this is done is through keyword selection.

So how do I select the best keywords?

Keyword selection is a balancing act – you need to be specific enough in your keywords that people can visit your website and get your specific offer, but generic enough that people can find the information they need on other sites using search engines.

On the other hand, if you overuse keywords, you might end up with a lot of visitors from a few specific keyword combinations and not enough visitors for your actual content.

If you spend a little time upfront doing some keyword research with sites like SEMRush, it should pay off over time.

Keyword research isn’t just about figuring out the next big thing – it’s all about understanding how your existing keywords are ranking for the things you care about.

As an example, I’ve entered information into the SEMRush Keyword tool on some of the top shoe brands in the world – Nike, Adidas, Asics, and New Balance, and I’ve also thrown in Skechers in at the end.

Skechers isn’t really a sports shoe like the others, but it is a brand that carries a variety of shoe styles and will help provide some contrast to the other brands.

Of these brands, you can see the keyword overlap with the different companies.

Nike, represented by the blue circle, is the most popular brand in the world and has significant keyword overlap with Adidas, which is the second most popular brand in the world and represented in green.

As for volume, Nike (1.1M) is dominant followed by Adidas (541.8K). Asics (151.9K) and New Balance (150.7K).

Skechers (168.5K) has a similar volume to both New Balance and Asics but sits higher on the chart overlapping with Nike and NewBalance. This would presumably be due to the different markets that Skechers is targeting when compared to Asics and New Balance.

If you are Sketchers, you are probably not going to have success attacking Nike’s sports shoes head-on, but you might be able to have success in other areas.

From SEMRush, you can also get keyword details:

The top keywords can be seen along the left column, and what I will call opportunities are located on the top.

These opportunity categories are Shared, Missing, Weak, Stong, Untapped, and Unique.

This information can help you select keywords to put in your content that may help users find your content when they are entering terms into the search engine.

Remember, how you personally enter search terms may or may not be the way that others are entering search terms.

Using keyword research sites can help you see how many people are entering terms, which enables you to drill down and look for a niche to exploit.

You exploit the niche by producing relevant content and utilizing those identified terms so that your content begins to appear higher in the rankings.

Where are some of the keyword research sites?

There is a variety of keyword sites to choose from, some charge a fee and some are free.

Here is a quick list:

Google Trends: completely free, provides you topics that people are searching for, but limited capabilities when compared to the services that you pay for

Moz: Keyword Explorer, you can get a 30-day trial, and then subscribe after that.

Ahrefs: You can test with a free trial and decide if you want to purchase a subscription.

SEMRush: Sign up for free, you have limited capabilities and but you can see what it provides if you decide to pay for a subscription.


This post may contain affiliate links. Click here for my disclaimer.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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