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by Ethan Giles, Senior Operations Manager at

When implementing your SEO strategy on any website, it’s crucial for you to know what keywords you’re targeting in order to be able to do so effectively. However, often the challenge is this – which keywords should be being used?

Firstly, it’s important to explain what a keyword actually is. They’re simply the words used by people when searching.

In fact, you may see “keyword” and “search term” used interchangeably, but bear in mind that when discussing PPC or Google Ads, these are distinct and mean different things. Keywords do not have to be single words. In fact, your chosen keywords should generally be multiple words.

How do I know what keywords to use?

This is the first step to identifying what your keywords should be – know where to find out what people are searching for.

Some people will select keywords based on what they assume users will be searching for, but this is not an effective method. You might simply be wrong, you could miss out on terms you have not considered, and you’ll know nothing about those terms – they might be searched infrequently.

Here are a number of places you can look to identify keywords:

Google Ads – Keyword Planner

Google provide a tool through its advertising platform, Google Ads, that can be used to identify the keywords you want to use for SEO (as well as PPC). This tool works in a couple of different ways:

  • You can ask Google to suggest keywords based on the website (you could use your own, or even a competitor’s)
  • You can ask Google to suggest keywords based on an initial phrase or word
  • You can ask Google for data around one particular keyword

Use a combination of all three. Bear in mind that how specific the data you receive is, will depend on your Google Ad spend.

If you’ve been using Google Ads frequently and spent a good amount, you’ll receive complete data, including how often the keyword is being searched for. If you’ve used it less frequently or not at all, you’ll receive only ranges of data that make it harder to use.

Search Console

Within the Performance tab of the Google Search Console, you’ll be able to see what people search for when they see your site in the Google search results.

Google will give you the number of clicks you received, the impressions, the Click Through Rate (clicks divided by impressions) and your average position. You’ll also see which of your pages showed for which search terms.

Google Trends

Google Trends can provide you with related queries based on terms that you suggest, and will then compare terms for popularity.

Picking a search term

To decide on which search terms should become your keywords and be used as part of your SEO strategy, take into account the following information.


The search term must be relevant to your services or products. This can be tested through your own understanding, as well as searching for the term and seeing who else appears for the term.

If the search engine results show all your competitors or similar businesses then it must be relevant – if it does not, this would suggest people are searching for this for different reasons.


Select terms with a high intent, to ensure that anybody who does search for the keyword and arrives on your site is actually interested in your services. Intent can be judged based on a few factors:

  • Common sense – it can be clear when a term is specifically about your services and products, and they want to buy
  • More words – generally the more words used in the search query, the higher the intent. For example “holiday in Madrid July” has higher intent than “holiday Spain”.
  • Intent terms – look for terms included in the search query such as “buy”, “contact” or even dates or locations


Naturally, it’s important to target terms that have volume to ensure that the time you invest into optimising the keyword is worth it.

This is difficult to achieve unless the term has significant volume. Both Search Console and Keyword Planner can give you volume stats. Google Trends can allow you to compare up to four keywords for their comparative popularity – however, this is limited to search terms with significant volume already.


You should aim to target terms that have higher volume, but the key terms – often called long-tail keywords – are those with higher volumes but lower competition.

The lower the competition, the easier it’ll be for your SEO optimisations to have a noticeable effect on your performance.

Ethan will be hosting the SEO 101 training session in Manchester on September 25th. Register to tackle these issues in greater depth and come away with a strategy for fulfilling your SEO needs.

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