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An SEO Keywords Primer

Keywords. The most often asked questions on the topic of SEO surround keywords. What are they? How do I find them? Is it really important? Can I even understand all this?

Yes, you can! We’ll talk through the basics of keywords next. And then after that, we’ll practice by finding keywords for a natural mosquito repellent post.

What are keywords – A Primer

Keywords: the words that tell search engines your post topic.

Unfortunately, the nefarious types have made it difficult for us all. And we can’t just say, “Hey – search engines! This is what my post is about: natural mosquito repellent.”

That used to happen in “meta tags” and that’s why today, they’re useless – the meta tags, that is.

This is not a big deal though. If you write a post about a topic and you’re clear about it in your writing, search engines will likely pick up on that. That brings me to how to tell search engines about your topic.

Optimizing a Post: The specific ways you can make your topic crystal clear to a search engine.

Back to keywords for a moment. There are many ways to explain a concept or topic. Take that sentence for example. Some people might talk about a concept, others would refer to it as a topic. Which of those preceding groups should read your post?

A – the ones who search “concept” or

B – the ones who search “topic”?

This is where keywords come into play. For all intended purposes, those two words have the same meaning. But different folks will search for each word. As writers, we want to attract a particular audience, so we need to use the right keywords. 

To take it one step further, let’s look at how often these words are searched for per day:

“Concept” = 10k searches

“Topic” = 100k searches

The Wrench

There’s another very important consideration in choosing a keyword – how difficult is it to beat the competition and get on the first page?

“Concept” = easy to get on first page of search engine

“Topic” = difficult to get on first page

Keyword Choice

Since our goal is to get on first page of google, in this example, I would compose the article using the word, “concept”, not the word, “topic”.

An example: Chocolate Cake!

How to find a keyword

Step 1: Find a Topic

To find which words your audience uses to search, we use a combination of guess work, your knowledge of the audience, google analytics and a few tools (try keywordtool.io for free).

Step 2: Search Volume

To discover how often a word is used in search, simply go to Google, type it in and record the number of results. If you want a more unbiased result, use an “incognito” window in Chrome.

Step 3: Ranking Difficulty

There are several tools to help with this. Moz offers a free browser extension for Firefox and Chrome. And my favorite tool is KWFinder.com. In fact, this is the only SEO tool that I pay for.

This tutorial will help you use and understand the various numbers. Be aware that you have 3 opportunities to search a word during the free version (daily).


If you haven’t done this regularly yet, I recommend starting in Google Analytics and finding the keywords that are bringing audience members to your site already. Optimize those posts.

NOTE: do not optimize more than one page for the same keyword. This ‘dilutes’ your SEO strength. Now you’re competing against yourself for those coveted spots on the first page of search engine results.


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