Keyword Selection Strategies for Your Keyword Research & SEO Projects

One of the questions that comes up from people following the free Keyword Research & SEO Tutorials is "How do I implement a keyword selection strategy?"

This article comprises top tips from the Niche Blogger Content Blueprint book, with a slight twist to help you apply the theory regardless of whether you're:
Strategy: Keyword Selection

  • a product creator
  • an author
  • a store owner
  • blogger, niche marketer or affiliate...

These are tips for everyone, whether they have an offline or online business; or are playing the hybrid game -- taking offline online and vice versa.

The Volume Strategy

This is, on the face of it, and easy one.

If you are looking for volume, then just pick the keyword phrase with the most searches (on average) per month, right?

Wrong. Or, at least, half wrong...

For a start, keywords are seasonal, and so your target keyword selection needs to be seasonal, too.

(You can download monthly keyword statistics right from within Keyword Planner.)

Then, keyword search volumes differ by geographic location; remembering that you have two geographies to take account of -- your own, and your market's -- and so, keywords have to be selected from a pool that makes geographic, as well as seasonal sense.

Get these two right, though, and you'll be making the best start.

But what if volume isn't your only priority?

The Value Strategy

There are two values in this strategy, both linked to the Suggested Bid calculated by the Keyword Planner.

The Low Value strategy places the emphasis on the cost of advertising to a group, whereas the High Value strategy looks at a niche that has a relatively high advertising spend as one that offers potential riches.

If you are an advertiser, the balance is towards a wide reach (Volume) and low cost (Suggested Bid, or Cost-per-Click). This is the Low Value strategy, which is a bit of a misnomer, because if you get it right, it can bring in a great ROI.

The trick is to make sure that you do the keyword research properly to identify a high-converting phrase (not just a high click-rate, but a high conversion rate once the visitor hits your page)  with a relatively low CPC.

The other side of the coin is to look for niches with a very high value (Search Volume x Suggested Bid) and make that the basis of your keyword selection. However, I would caution against using these keyword phrases in an AdWords campaign because, unless  you have a very high conversion rate and margin, it can become an expensive project!

The Competition Strategy

Anyone who has hired an SEO specialist has probably heard the term "KEI" (Keyword Effectiveness Index) which is a weighted calculation that tries to take account of the fact that not many people read past the first 10 results of a search, and of those that do, the click rate tails off noticeably...

(If you want proof of this, just look at your GWT / Search Console data, and order it by SERPs, and watch the click-through-rate plummet! To take advantage of this "lost traffic", check out my Zero Traffic Keyword Research post.)

The theory behind the KEI is that the more competition you have, the less attractive a keyword.

Up to a point, I agree.

However, as keywords become more and more long-tail in nature, this may well change, and a more modern index might be in order.

For a start, if you are going to try and evaluate the competition, use an appropriate search context:

  • the correct search domain (i.e. etc...);
  • keywords "in quotes" (narrow match);
  • PTB (phrase-to-broad) ratio, where available.

The first two are pretty obvious, but the last one is a specific ratio that some of the bigger automated tools provide and which is tough to calculate on your own. Your best bet, if you're doing the job manually, is to construct a query:

  • using the allintitle: option (Google-specific, sorry!)
  • break the phrase into "quoted" "sections" that represent the "long-tail"

If you apply these two in conjunction with the correct context, then the estimated number of pages returned by Google should fairly represent the competition.

Just remember that the value is relative and so the absolute number is irrelevant. My advice would be to put the results on a logarithmic scale, and use that as the basis for your keyword selection process.

Your Keyword Selection Strategy

Of course, you can use these principles to roll your own keyword selection strategy; we do that every time a client buys one of our keyword research services.

It's an easy thing to do using a spreadsheet. For example, if you have the search volume in Column 'B', and the CPC (suggested bid) in Column 'C', then a value-weighted strategy might use a formula such as:

  • =B * (C^2)

On the other hand, if you want to skew by volume:
  • = (B^2) * C
Other factors, such as the Competition Index (KEI or equivalent -- free download from Launch2Success here) can be built into the formula, too, so that you get the best keyword selection strategy for your own specific use.

To see the keyword selection process in action, check out the Niche Blogger Content Blueprint or one of our free tutorials (links at the top of the page.)