A Beginners Guide to Keyword Optimization for SEO

Search Engine Optimization

Welcome to our beginner guide to website keyword research! We developed this guide for the non-technical person who is interested in learning more about search engine results. This document refers to many Search Engine Optimization (SEO) topics and complements the article we created on SEO Basics.

The goal of keyword research is to generate a report on what keywords matter to your business. Many of the tools incorporate and automate this process for us, but they do require some configuration. They’re not hard to learn and can be easily used without much technical knowledge.

Hint: Ever Ask Yourself, what wording should I use? Use Google Keyword Research (or SEMRush) to see what version people are googling, then use that in the majority of circumstances.

Research Tools

The first step in improving your pagerank involves getting to know your audience and what they’re searching for. Luckily there are some tools that can help in the process. A few free and paid options exist that all internet marketers should be aware of. They’re not hard to learn and can be quickly picked up by the most computer illiterate individual. Furthermore, the knowledge gained while utilizing these tools can provide insights into customer behavior and mindsets that will benefit the website owner for many years.

Keyword Research Services

Here are some free and paid keyword researching tools:

RankMath (Free with Pro Version)

My first choice for WordPress. A great, free plugin, that seems to avoid many of the problems other plugin users face.

Google Keyword Planner (Free)

Very basic keyword searcher, though it offers many features and comes directly from Google.

Yoast (Free with Pro Version)

Yoast is a (mostly) free plugin that provides a big boost to WordPress SEO. Most use it for free to generate the website’s sitemap. Be warned that other plugins do the same thing. Yoast also provides basic grammar checking and ease of reading scores on all content.

SEMRush (Free with Pro Version)

SEMRush is a very good product providing copyright checking and SEO services such as keyword research and keyword competitive analysis. It has a WordPress plugin similar to Yoasts and they provide limited resources for people who don’t pay for a subscription.

The disadvantage of SEMRush is that it is expensive, and may not be of advantage for users who don’t take the time to learn it and work with it.


One key factor to consider when choosing what keywords to focus on is the competition you face when attempting to get on the first page. Many of the keyword research tools listed above will provide insights into the competition you face when attempting to rank. Be warned, the most generic keywords can have fierce competition making it difficult (or impossible) to get a top rank. This forces us to seek our traffic through more specific keyword combinations.

Localized Searches

Due to competition, many global keywords are out of reach for our customers. The competition for localized strings can be so much less fierce than the generic, nationwide equivalent. By focusing on the common location names; your service you can often, and quickly become on the top of the list. It can even be a good practice to create special pages with these targeted locations.

Keyword Placement

After we get our list of Keywords, we need to utilize this knowledge in our content and website design. And as always, the location of your keywords within your documents matter. Google, and other search providers, put a priority on keywords that are placed in certain locations on the page. Include the most important keywords in these locations:

  1. Links – The most important place to put keywords is in the text of links to your resources. This includes both internal and external links (backlinks).
  2. Headers – On this page “Keyword Placement” is the header above this text. The header and/or title is where google puts the top weight of the keywords. And the type of header matters. The most important is the “Header 1” (or often referred to as the H1) tag followed by subtitles (Heading 2, H3, H4). Each page should only have a single Header 1 tag and is often the title of the page.
  3. Top of the Document – Placing important keywords in the first sentence can give additional boosts to the keyword. I often put less important keyword laden acronyms of the header in the first paragraph.
  4. URLs – The text in the page address (URL) found on top of the page is used to determine your pages placement. It includes the domain (.com,.org,.net) and a path.
  5. MetaData – You may not know it, but websites contain hidden data that describes your page to other computers. Then search engines, social networks and any external sites gather and display this data to there users.

WordPress Hint: Look for the Title and Description within your SEO plugin settings on the post/page/product edit screens. Most often you’ll find this below the default classic or Gutenberg editor.