It’s no secret that a website’s search ranking directly influences the amount of traffic it receives. Web traffic can come from any number of sources, including type-in, social media, contextual links, paid advertisements, etc. However, organic traffic — the traffic generated from search engines — typically offers the largest volume, which is why it’s important to optimize your website for higher search rankings. But one of the first steps in launching an search engine optimization (SEO) campaign is choosing the appropriate target keywords.

What are Target Keywords?

In the most basic sense, target keywords are the words and phrases for which you want your website to rank in the search results. If you operate a business that sells engagement rings on your website, for instance, possible target keywords may include “engagement rings” and “wedding rings.” When someone searches for one of these terms, your website will appear in the search results — at least that’s the ultimately goal behind SEO. So, how do you choose the right target keywords for your website?

Get Ideas

The first step in choosing target keywords for your SEO campaign is to brainstorm ideas. In other words, what words are customers searching for to find your website? Assuming you have Google Analytics installed, you may be able to gather some keyword ideas here. Alternatively, you can use Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner tool to prospect additional keyword ideas. When using the Keyword Planner tool, enter a generic term or phrase associated with your website’s niche, at which point it should reveal related terms.

You may also want to brainstorm keyword ideas using social media, Google Trends and other sources. Basically, try to uncover terms and phrases that users would search for to find your site. Even if you know some obvious keywords, there are probably others out there waiting to be uncovered.

Competition and Traffic

In addition to relevance, there are two other things you need to consider when choosing target keywords for your SEO campaign: competition and traffic (search volume). If a specific keyword has too much competition, it’s probably not worth pursuing. On the other hand, if a keyword only receives a handful of searches per month, it’s also a poor choice for your campaign. A good target keyword should be relevant to your website’s niche, receive a fair amount of search volume, and have minimal competition. Following this criteria will help you choose the most effective target keywords.