Understanding how to find optimal SEO keywords to attract customers can help you garner more online sales and raise the visibility of your business.


Keywords are words or phrases used to summarize the main topics or themes covered in online content. When included in certain locations on a website page, they act like clues to help search engines direct users to your site as they search for information online.

Keywords are an important part of search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure your business can attract organic website traffic and users who are searching for something you provide. A strong keyword strategy can increase online sales and improve your company’s visibility.

How important is organic search in drawing people to your website? It’s the top website traffic source, responsible for 27 per cent of website traffic on average and outpacing direct search, paid search, social media and all other sources.

How keywords impact search engine ranking

To be sure your target audience discovers you online, you’ll need to learn how to find SEO keywords that successfully attract customers and then create high-value content in which to use them.

Figuring out which keywords will capture the attention of both search engines and your target audience will take research, and trial and error. There are many common terms, business names and product names that overlap. An apple is not the same as Apple Inc. and a hurricane weather event is not the Carolina Hurricanes NHL hockey team.

Knowing the language your customers use when searching for your products or services is valuable, but how you use these keywords on your website will determine if a search engine recognizes your content as a valuable resource or solution to match a user’s search.

Your choice of keywords will also depend on competitors who would like to capture website traffic from the same users.

Identifying your target audience

You may have a clear idea of your ideal customer based on data you’ve collected from your past customers, but you will need more than this to identify a target audience for SEO. You must also examine an online audience’s search intent, behaviour and pain points to understand how and why they search online.

Understanding search intent

Choosing the right keywords can take some effort, as you’ll need to understand what your potential customers are searching for and what language they use to search. This is called search intent.

It’s crucial because it reveals why users are searching online — whether for information, navigation, transactions or research. By aligning content with user intent, marketers can increase visibility in relevant search results and drive valuable actions, like clicks and conversions.

You are competing with other websites to be the most valuable search result that could be offered to a user, and understanding the user’s intent can help you come out on top.

Getting started with keyword research

You can begin your keyword research by brainstorming a list of relevant topics and terms related to your products and services. You can also build lists of terms commonly used in your industry to describe the market you serve.

Reviewing language provided in customer feedback channels can also provide valuable insights as you may find additional terms that describe the problems you solve for customers.

Start with a broad view of what you offer and gradually narrow down each category into specific terms and phrases that might help users find your content. This helps you understand how people might find you online, so you can create content with those terms used strategically throughout.

Using keywords can help attract customers to your website and reassure them upon landing that they have found a reliable source of information that answers their search queries.

Keyword research tools

There are tools designed to help you conduct keyword research, compare different keywords and explore competitor keywords. They can be very useful when you are getting started with keyword ideas, as they will help you move from guessing to reviewing data.

Each tool includes features that help you build lists of keywords and analyze their search volume by reviewing the average number of searches per month. They can also provide numbers that show how easy or difficult it might be to compete for a keyword.

With this data, you can create a list of high-value keywords that are relevant to what you offer, used in a high volume of searches each month and don’t have a lot of competition. This combination contributes to a successful keyword strategy.

Competing for high-value keywords

Competition for a keyword can come from a competitor in your market or any entity that considers it relevant to their company. You may be beaten out by larger websites if many businesses are going after the same keywords.

A larger website may have more high-value content on a particular topic or theme. It may have much higher traffic numbers because customers know the brand. A domain authority score measures these factors to evaluate how likely a site is to meet a user’s needs. The higher your score, the more likely a keyword will boost where your site shows up in search results.

Consider a small city shoe store that sells Nike running shoes and wants to let potential customers know. It’s a good advertising idea, but using the keywords “Nike” and “Nike running shoes” will likely be an uphill battle. The shop will have more luck with search terms such as “women’s Nike running shoes” combined with the city name or business district in which it is located. These terms help it target the types of customers who are most likely to purchase its Nike running shoes.

How to use high-value keywords

As you identify high-value keywords, you can begin to use them strategically throughout your online content to help bring traffic to your site.

Your keywords can make a significant impact when used in:

  • Content planning and creation;
  • On-page SEO efforts throughout website text;
  • Local SEO to attract local customers; and
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns to reach new audiences.

Measuring your success with SEO keywords

Using your website analytics, you should be able to view metrics to evaluate which keywords are attracting traffic to your website and how your site is performing over time.

You can monitor and track your success by analyzing changes in:

  • Organic website traffic from search engines;
  • Search rankings for your website content;
  • The click-through rate (CTR) of people clicking from search results to your website;
  • The online conversion rate showing website visitors taking desired actions on your site; and
  • The bounce rate of people who leave your website quickly, indicating they didn’t find content they found relevant.

It’s important to make keyword research and competitor analysis an ongoing priority if you’re hoping for success with SEO. Trends and comparative data will change over time, as will the strategies of your competitors.

Ready to see how keywords can help bolster your online traffic? Book a consultation with a Postmedia expert or download our SEO Guide to learn more.