How to Choose Keywords in a Way That Makes Sense: 5 Easy Steps

By Gina Broom
How to Choose Keywords in a Way That Makes Sense: 5 Easy Steps


Now that I've told you to forget keywords just a few weeks ago, and I've given you time to mull that over, it’s time to revisit them. 

If you’re not sure what I'm talking about, check out the blog post here. It’ll make a lot of the following information a lot more straightforward. 

Yes, a unified content front is the most important thing, and yes there are many other ways of getting your content in front of your audience other than plain ol' SEO.

But if you want to get traffic from as many sources as possible, then you’ll want to keep yourself in the loop as far as keywords/SEO go.

That doesn't mean that you should throw the other post in the trash and get depressed about trudging your way once again through keyword research.I’m here to suggest a new way of doing it that makes a lot more sense, one that's a lot easier and a lot more effective. 

The cool thing about this topic is that I can pretty much sum it up in one sentence: 

Find a keyword for a topic, rather than a topic for a keyword.

Now I'm going to make like a ladder and give you some steps.

Step 1: Decide on the Topic for Your Content (with Your Site's Goal in Mind)

What's the overarching theme for your site? Who is your audience and what do they need? Pick a topic based on this before you do anything else. 

I won't go into this in huge detail here because I've covered it much more thoroughly in the post I mentioned before: "A Challenge to the Status Quo of Content Strategy: Forget Keywords For A Moment".

To recap though, the main points are:

  • Too many marketers forget the main point of their content when they focus on keywords first and foremost.
  • SEO-targeted content isn't always people-targeted, which is the problem
  • It's scary for marketers to move away from keywords, because they're seen as the bread and butter of getting found on the internet
  • Creating content that has a specific purpose for a very targeted audience is the most important thing
  • Read through the last part of the post, "Suggestions for "Love Me" Content Creation", to know where to look for inspiration for the right type of content

For this post, for example, I looked in our own forum and found that a lot of people were confused about keyword research:

keyword questions

So I figured I'd get some more info out there to make it easier. This way, my content is catered to my audience, rather than me struggling to find an audience for my content.

If you don't have your own forum, it doesn't mean you can't look at others in your niche, or comments on blog posts, or even the topics that the other blogs are writing about. It's all good for inspiration. 

NOW it's time to search for a keyword to match your topic.

Step 2: Load Up a Keyword Research Tool 

If you already have one you use then that's great! But if not, try one of the ones I've suggested below. 

Finding a keyword will now be much easier, as you're not grasping at relevance-straws. You know what you're writing about, so the topic is defined. You know people are wanting to know, you just have to figure out what they're entering into the search bar when they look.

Start by loading up a keyword research tool, such as the one in the AffiloTools Research Module (which is a good option if you'd like to check your website health or other site checks at the same time) or Traffic Travis

*UPDATE* A new Keyword Research Module has been released in AffiloTools. Learn about it in the new blog post here. The following process can easily be done in this new Keyword Research Module. 

In this post I'm going to show you Traffic Travis; head to the research tab and click on the box for entering keywords:

Traffic Travis

Step 3: Enter a Short Phrase that Sums up Your Topic

What is the core of your topic? What's it really about? Enter that into your keyword tool.

Think of what is, in your opinion, the best short phrase that sums up your topic. For this one, I initially entered "Confused about keywords."

confused about keywords

If you've got a few extra ideas, that's great! Jot them down. They could be useful if you don't find what you want with the first one. For example....

  • How to do keyword research right
  • Easy ways to do keyword research
  • Make sense of keywords

Hit "Fetch" to put the search through.

Step 4: Sort the Results to See if There's a Good Fit

Sort by competition and look at lower competition options that are relevant to your topic and have decent search volumes.

You're now going to look at the keyword suggestions. You're looking for keywords that offer the best balance of:

  • Relevance to your topic.
  • Low competition.
  • High global monthly search volume

First, you'll click on the word "competition" at the top of the column to sort results so that the lowest competition options are listed first.

You'll then want to look at the words which have the highest search volumes out of the low competition options, and see whether any of those phrases are particularly relevant to your topic. 

Traffic Travis filter results

In this example, "keyword density" and "keyword density checker" have the highest search volumes, so in generic keyword research these would be the best options for my post. I would write about keyword density instead.

But does my audience specifically want to know about keyword density? Not particularly, so these results are unsatisfying to me. They are not relevant to the topic of my post, so I have to keep trying.

Step 5: Rinse and Repeat Until You've Found What You're Looking For!

You know what they say: If at first you don't succeed, try some other phrases till you find a good keyword! Or something like that...

If you didn't find what you were looking for, try a new search phrase. You can even enter a few phrases at once for a variety of results.

Either way, keep going until you find something that fits all the criteria. It's worth it to write about something that's suited to your audience, and has the added bonus of a little SEO to help out with traffic. 

Sometimes you'll be surprised at the results you find this way. I remember reading some interesting information about using Instagram for business and deciding to pass that on to our audience. 

I plugged "using Instagram for business" into Traffic Travis, and found a great result instantly. It was awesome:

Instagram keyword

That's exactly the phrase I wanted for my content, with a 1,900 search volume, and only 1% competition. Yes I will use that, thank you! I was so (disproportionately) excited that I left a note on my work task about my find:


Booyah! Good search volumes, no competition and no difficulty trying to figure out what to use for a keyword. Super straightforward. 

Don't be Disheartened if Your Final Keyword has a Lower Search Volume than Less Relevant Keywords. It's Still Better.

A keyword with a high search volume but low relevance is like having a large mailing list with a low click through rate. You can actually get more from a smaller list if it's highly responsive.

Not all searches are as successful as my Instagram example (hence my excitement). The keyword I chose for this post, for example, “how to choose keywords”,  only has 210 global monthly views (but still low competition).

This is still good though because the topic is highly relevant to our audience (that's you guys!), but also highly relevant to the search term. It’ll be easier to share, and it’ll actually be useful to our readers. 

Remember that bounce rate affects your SEO too. If your keyword is relevant but the rest of your title or your page isn’t, you’ll lose readers and slide backwards with your SEO anyway. Relevance is much more effective for reducing bounce rate and growing your brand's reputation for great content.

If you follow this process, then keyword research becomes straight forward. It becomes relevant to your site and your brand, rather than trying to wrap your site and audience around an eclectic array of keywords. Do it. It’s faster, easier, more relevant, and just plain smart. 

Don't Forget Your Takeaways!

takeaways 1. Choose your topic based on your website's audience and what they're looking to know.

2. Load up a keyword tool like Traffic Travis.

3. Enter a short phrase that sums up your topic.

4. Sort the results by competition. You want low competition, high search volumes, and the greatest relevance to your topic.

5. Rinse and repeat until you find a decent option to use for your content SEO.

QUESTION: Have you ever struggled with the dreaded keyword research in the past? How did you manage to get through it? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

Linda Smith 9 years ago
I don't like Traffic Travis, but I have started using the method you have described.

I also go to Google Webmaster tools and look at keywords used with queries. I also get new topic ideas this way as well.

I also use the suggested bid. High bids, low competition.
Gina Broom 9 years ago
Hi Linda,

I'm glad you've found this method useful. If you don't like Traffic Travis, another alternative for keyword research is the new Keyword Research Module in AffiloTools. You can find that here if you're interested:

There will be a blog post coming out about it soon. :)

Great to hear you've got a good system in place for finding new topic ideas. It's always good to have a strong focus for your content.

- Gina
David 9 years ago
Great post! I used to have a lot of problems getting the real fundamentals down on keyword research. Definitely have come a long way, a keyword tool I really love is Market Samaria. People forget though, seo helps big time but all that content you worked so hard on isn't going to be great unless you create a backlinks for that article.