Choosing Keywords

Choosing Keywords

The term “keyword” is old fashion but one where we are stuck with by habit. To be an effective online marketer, use your inner translator to think “key phrase”  or “search term” instead.

Why? Few people search for just one word. They instead search for a full phrase that best describes what they want, like “top 3 restaurants in San Francisco” or “truck tires on sale”. They have a goal in mind. You should too.

However, the problem goes back to the fact that every page has two readers: the human and the search engine. You want your title to tickle the ear of a prospective reader but also come up high on a search engine. You also want the key phrase for one page to work with the key phrases chosen for other pages, along with your overall marketing.

It’s a tricky balance that can get time consuming. We try to simplify the process by following five easy steps that have served us well.

Finding keywords

Research first, write second

When it comes to choosing a phrase for a page, know what you want to write before you write it. You do this by knowing what term searches best.

We suggest choosing 3 to 5 different phrases that uniquely represent the content of specific page. Enter those phrases into Google with quotes and see which phrase has the most hits (it includes this in your search results). You can also use tools like those from MOZ or Search Engine Land, but free is good.

With the most searched term in hand, build your content.

The key phrase selected for the page title must be part of the page content

If the body copy of your page doesn’t include “truck tire sale”, then you’re not going to rank for that key phrase either. This is part of the SEO concept called “alignment” that we’ll get into in another blog post. However, it basically means that the phrase you choose needs to be repeated enough in your writing to ensure that both a human and search engine will understand it’s the point of your page. Remember: your writing for two audiences. People will quit your site and search engines won’t rank if the term you choose isn’t part of your body copy. Still want to include a search phrase: Rewrite your content to accommodate.

Choosing keywords

Don’t use vanity keywords.

Choosing a single word for a page generally doesn’t work. It has to be part of your branding and part of your domain. For instance, you’re the jewelry maker Josten’s and you own the domain “”. Otherwise, choose a phrase that best summarizes the content on that page.

Be specific over creative.

People don’t use creative writing in search engines. They use specific language to get a specific result. So mimic their search and choose a key phrase that’s specific over creative.

Creative writing is best left for your body copy and subheads. This is because creative writing includes words like “a”, “the”, “and”, along with ambiguous concepts and vague references. This is great for humans but bad for search engines.

If you chose “The A in Apple”, for instance, for a teacher’s website, the automatic URL creator for WordPress converts it to “/apple”. A search engine may do the same, giving you unusual results.

Instead, choose a specific key phrase and repeat it in your URL, page title and page heading. Leave the creative writing for the rest of your body copy.

Retest and rewrite

Unless you’re writing a page like “contact us” that rarely needs to change, keep going back to your content every three months or sooner and update your copy. Retest your key phrase, update your page title and rewrite your copy to fit.

Keeping your copy updated attracts search engines to re-index your website. It also allows you to chase key phrases that become more popular.

Nothing stays the same online.


Like a strong family, a website that has pages with unified keywords is a website that comes across unified and cohesive. And that’s good. Search engines know how to categorize your content and customers know how to position your company.

For more information about choosing the right keywords for you, contact Visual String. We’ll be happy to guide you.