A close-up look at how we chose keywords for our SEO page

A close-up look at how we chose keywords for our SEO page A close-up look at how we chose keywords for our SEO page
Justin Greenwood

When choosing which relevant keywords should be used on a web page, the first step is to identify what the business would like to focus on as part of their SEO strategy.

We start this process by brainstorming the different products and services on offer.

How did we do it?

For Dux Digital’s SEO page, we built a list of every possible keyword that people might search for when looking for SEO services.

We generally use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, which can be found in Tools in your Adwords account. If you’re an agency with advertising clients, you can access this without running an Adwords campaign. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible if you’re not running any campaigns.

High search volume

You should start with a few initial phrases to generate additional keywords, and for this instance we used terms like:

  • SEO Perth
  • SEO Agency
  • SEO Expert
  • SEO Specialist
  • Local SEO Perth

We then added anything to our list which had significant search volume. This simply refers to the amount of quality searches a keyword is likely to attract on a monthly basis.

For businesses who only need a few high-end clients, smaller search quantities could be worth pursuing. However, for most businesses who rely on the sale of a large quantity of products and services to be profitable, high search volume is key.

Buyer intent

Next, keywords should be assessed individually to determine the “buyer intent”. A high search volume is one thing, but if the keyword is unlikely to result in a sale or call to action then you won’t get the results you are looking for.

For example, “on-site SEO checklist” may be relevant, but those searching this term are more likely researching than looking to hire an SEO company. In comparison, “SEO services Perth” fits the criteria of both search volume and buyer intent.

During this phase, we remove any keywords that don’t initiate buyer intent.


For those who currently have a high spend on Adwords, you will have the benefit of retrieving a closer estimate of the search volumes for your keywords. Without a paid campaign running you will only be able to view generalised ranges, for example 10-100 or 100-1000.

There is a workaround to this, simply take a keyword and place it into the Google AdWords forecast tool. When asked how much you are planning to bid, choose an exaggerated number such as $500 per click.

Select “exact match” and you will be given a large amount of data. Export this information into an Excel spreadsheet, and delete all fields except for “Estimated Monthly Impressions”. While this might not be entirely accurate, it does give you a much better understanding of the forecasted impressions, buyer intent and keyword search volume.

What not to look for in your keywords

Non-commercial pages

If there are non-commercial pages showing up such as Wikipedia, it can be a signal that your keyword is not a “buyer intent” keyword, so double check your information.

If it is definitely a buyer intent keyword, then it may still be worth pursuing, but these informational sites are often extremely high authority and will be difficult or expensive to beat.

High authority sites

Look out for household names or big national/international companies with large, high budget websites.

If you’re doing a small SEO campaign for a local business and the first page of results for the main keywords for one of their products is dominated by huge companies, it’s going to be extremely hard to compete on a small budget. Instead, try to be more creative with the keywords you choose.

International results

If you are working on a local campaign and experience a number of results from international websites for your keywords, it can be an uphill battle. In this instance it would appear Google is putting very little weight on local relevance.

When you have to compete internationally, it can be more challenging and expensive to climb the ranks. For example, our keyword “Local SEO Perth” will likely only have to compete with other SEO and digital marketing agencies in Perth, rather than the entire world.

What to look for in your keywords

Comparison sites

If you are looking at a local business keyword and Gumtree, Yelp and other comparison websites are ranking in the top few spots, it usually indicates lower competition. Google will rank a business website first wherever possible, so a lack of company activity in the top spots usually means there has been little SEO in this particular niche.

The only exception to this rule is hotels, restaurants, and other industries where these types of comparison websites dominate.

Other small businesses

If there are other similar businesses ranking highly for a particular keyword, then it means you can too with a similar SEO budget.

Use the above to further filter your list and come up with a list of keywords that strike the best balance between profit potential (monthly searches x customer value) and difficulty to achieve a high ranking.

Research competition

The final part of this process involves looking at the individual websites which are in the top 3 for the most suitable keywords. We assess both the quality of their backlinks (using Ahrefs which is by far the best backlink analysis tool available), and their on-site SEO to determine how difficult it will be to outrank them and take one of the top spots.

For some businesses in particular niches, following this process will result in no viable keywords. SEO isn’t always a profitable marketing method and sometimes you need to look at alternatives.

This is particularly true if the SEO competition is too high in relation to the potential return or budget available. There is a huge variance in the profitability of SEO depending on location and industry.

SEO does not always equal profit

Some niches are easy to get great results on a smaller budget, while others are almost impossible to rank without a large budget, or just don’t have enough search volume to deliver a return that will cover the cost of SEO in sales.

Following this process isn’t just about identifying which keywords to go after. It’s also about assessing whether SEO is going to be profitable for the business at all.