How Many Keywords for SEO Should You Track?

Written on
July 17, 2020
by
Matt Wilson
in
Keyword Research
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How many keywords for SEO do you need to track? While automated tools make it easy to generate long lists of keywords, in reality, you only need to focus on relevant priority search terms in order to achieve winning SEO results. You can determine what keywords to prioritize by following a simple four-step process:

  1. Identify an initial list of relevant keywords
  2. Expand by adding related terms
  3. Narrow your list down
  4. Assign primary keywords to landing pages

Read on to learn how to determine how many keywords for SEO you need.

How Google Indexes and Displays Content

To understand how to determine the best keywords to track, it helps to know something about how Google indexes content. When Google’s robots crawl a page on your site, they use a proprietary algorithm supported by artificial intelligence to analyze how the content of that page relates to the search intent of search engine users. To evaluate the content on your page, the algorithm pays special attention to certain strategic spots on your page, according to Google’s SEO Starter Guide:

  • The title tag
  • The meta description, which may be used by Google to display a snippet at the top of search engine page results
  • Heading tags

The keywords you place in these locations can influence the way Google indexes your content as well as what human users see in search engine results. Google’s algorithm interprets your keywords by relating them to clusters of other vocabulary terms which signal user intent.

For instance, if you search on the keyword “hamburger”, Google may show you a list of local restaurants which sell hamburgers as well as a list of related search terms asking about questions such as why hamburgers are called hamburgers, how to make hamburgers and who invented hamburgers. These additional terms provide context for the original keyword in order to help display results which match the searcher’s intent. If a user includes these other contextual terms in their search, it helps narrow down their results to prioritize pages which match their search intent. Likewise, if a page contains these contextual terms, Google will consider it more relevant to a search using a given keyword in that context.

Why You Don’t Need to Track Every Keyword

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The way Google’s algorithm works means that when Google indexes results, it takes into account not only the keywords you place in your title tag and other locations on your page, but also the context of those keywords as defined by surrounding language. Google’s robots will look at the keywords you use in your title tag and other strategic spots, but it will interpret these keywords in relation to the rest of your page.

This means that keywords and other terms which are relevant to the content of your page will carry greater weight with Google than other terms on your page. Keywords you use in your title tag serve as primary keywords and should be chosen carefully. Terms used in other strategic parts of your page such as headers serve as secondary, supporting indicators of context. Other language on your page may also be used by Google to interpret context, but only insofar as it bears relevance to your content as defined by your title tags, meta descriptions and headers.

In other words, keyword stuffing only works if your additional keywords are actually relevant to your primary keywords. Irrelevant keywords aren’t likely to boost your results. What will help your SEO is using keywords relevant to your content in your title tags, meta descriptions and headers and using relevant natural language in the rest of your content.

For analytics purposes, this means you don’t need to track your ranking on every keyword which appears on every page of your site. For any given page, what you need to track is your ranking on the primary keyword which appears in your title tag. You can also track major supporting keywords which appear in your headers. Since most pieces aren’t long enough to cover many major topics, this means that you’re only going to have a handful of relevant major keywords per page.

For your site as a whole, your keywords will naturally fall into clusters related to the major topics covered on your site. These topics and keywords should be reflected in your site’s navigational structure, including menus, tags and categories. Organize your keyword lists around the topics covered in your site’s navigational structure. Prioritize tracking the keywords which are most relevant to generating traffic related to those topics.

How to Prioritize Keywords

Exactly how many keywords for SEO you need to track will vary with the specifics of your marketing needs. Here are four general steps for determining which keywords to prioritize.

1. Identify an Initial List of Keywords Relevant to Your Business

Start by generating an initial list of keywords relevant to your business model, brand, market and product or service line. You can do this by brainstorming around the following questions:

  • What topics does your target market come to your site to learn about?
  • What keyword terms describe those topics and the search intent of your visitors?
  • What keyword terms are you currently ranking on?

You can use Google Search Console to see a list of terms your site currently ranks on. Combining this with brainstorming will yield an initial list of keywords you can build on.

2. Expand Your List by Adding Related Terms

Once you have an initial list of how many keywords for SEO you need, you can expand it for more systematic coverage of important terms in your market. You can do this in a number of ways.

One easy way is to do a Google search on one of your keyword terms and look at the list of related searches which displays on the results page. This will appear at the bottom of the page.

You can also use specialized keyword research tools which list terms related to your keyword phrase. Leading keyword analysis tools include SEMrush and Ahrefs.

A third way is to analyze what keywords your competitors are ranking on. Knowing this can help ensure you’re not overlooking any important terms the competition is targeting.

3. Narrow Your List Down

After you’ve rounded out your keyword list, you can begin narrowing it down. To prioritize items on your list, you can use criteria such as:

  • Which keyword terms generate the most volume?
  • Which terms with high volume have the lowest competition?
  • Which long-tailed niche terms have high volume, low competition or both?
  • Which terms represent the highest potential revenue as reflected in bidding prices for ads?

You can derive this type of information from Google’s Keyword Planner and from other specialized search tools.

4. Assign Primary Keywords to Landing Pages

After narrowing your list of terms down, you can begin assigning primary keywords to the title tags of different pages on your site. Use a unique primary keyword and title for each page. If you use the same primary keyword for multiple pages, you will end up competing with yourself in Google’s rankings.

Track the Right Keywords to Boost Your SEO Performance

Focusing on the best keywords for your business can help you improve your SEO results and achieve your marketing goals. An experienced SEO agency can assist you with identifying the right keywords for your marketing strategy. SimpleTiger specializes in helping B2B SaaS companies develop customized SEO strategies to increase their organic search traffic. Take two minutes to fill out our online form and schedule a discovery call to discuss how we can help you select the right keywords to drive more qualified traffic to your website.

Simply effective marketing.