8 tricks to prioritise keywords for SEO content


It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when you start researching keywords and realise there are many available that you could work on ranking for. 

Deciding on which keywords to choose can feel like somewhat of an arbitrary process at times – or even like you are throwing keywords at the wall and seeing what sticks. 

While there is no definitive answer to the question ‘which keywords should I choose’, there are many guiding principles you can apply to help narrow down the ones you optimise your content for.  

Here, we provide our 8 tips to help you whittle down that massive export of keywords you pulled from Ahrefs, Semrush or similar – and turn it into a final grouping of terms you’re going to focus on.  

Stay relevant 

Once you get into keyword research, it’s easy to go down a ‘rabbit hole’ and begin exploring opportunities to rank for all kinds of terms you hadn’t even thought of before. However, it’s important to take a step back and remember what your core offering is.  

You may get excited about the high volume and low keyword difficulty of a term you’ve never thought of before, but will optimising content for it result in a webpage which is still relevant? 

Evaluate whether your target audience has an interest in the subject matter, if it meets their requirements, if your business can provide relevant solutions, and if the content will be truly beneficial to them. If you’re at risk of generating irrelevant copy, discard the keyword and move on. 

Focus on your goals  

Don’t lose sight of your overall goals. You want to ensure that your content is serving your audience and assisting with conversion. Ultimately, marketing is focused on supporting management with achieving business KPIs, so keywords need to be focused on helping with these objectives. 

You don’t have to start from scratch, though – particularly with an enterprise site, or one which has been around for a while. Examine your site’s current position using a tool like Ahrefs or Semrush – or Search Console if you are not using this software – and establish which pages are already ranking well. There may be some easy keyword wins if you can build off your pre-existing success.

When you are optimising pages which are ranking well already, you will likely be primarily targeting informational keywords. However, some of your pages will already be converting well, which is a great opportunity to hone in on transactional keywords and optimise them further.

Bigger isn’t always better

A keyword research tool can give you valuable insights into factors such as keyword difficulty and search volumes. The holy grail will be an untapped term which has a low difficulty and high volume. However, while there are genuine opportunities out there, don’t get too carried away and focus solely on unrealistic queries. 

How do you know a query is unrealistic? If you have a relatively new site, or you’re trying to tap into a new topic you haven’t covered in much detail before, then a keyword with a high difficulty won’t be attainable at this stage. However, if you’re already ranking well for related keywords, you’ve got more chance at success even if the keyword difficulty is high. 

As for keyword volume, bigger isn’t always better. Here’s an example – management logs into your keyword research tool, has a look around and discovers there are tens of thousands of people searching for a short-tail keyword each month. They immediately tell you to start optimising for this keyword so the business can capture all of these searches. 

While it’s a nice idea, the reality is that it isn’t that simple. Bigger keyword volumes means bigger competition. You may have a look at your current site position, and what the SERPs look like for the term, then conclude that you would be spending a lot of time trying to rank for this higher volume keyword – when there may be a mid-volume term you could rank for more quickly and easily. Ultimately, management will want to know what you feel confident about achieving, and it’s results that matter. 

Conversion, conversion, conversion 

While it’s important to have plenty of pages targeting informational keywords to build out prospective buyers in the awareness stage of the marketing funnel, you want to put a decent amount of effort into the pages which are designed for conversion. This means developing a realistic keyword strategy which will rank relatively quickly for terms that searchers with transactional intent are looking for. You want to be reaching people who have gone beyond awareness and consideration, and are ready to convert. 

These pages need to have more than keyword strategy in place. Working with UX designers is also important, as you want to ensure the page is visually appealing and guides users towards the goal of checking out and making that purchase. SEO is all about building a qualified audience, and your best chances at success are working holistically with UX to ensure there is a fluid journey from ranking in the SERPs to guiding the user towards that purchase. 

Mix it up  

No SEO worth their salt will advise a client to target purely high-volume keywords, or to go for just the ‘low-hanging fruit’. Every site is different, and there will be a mixture of opportunities available for each brand out there. Applying a one-size-fits-all approach to keyword prioritisation is a sure-fire path to failure.  

When examining a particular page for optimisation, or creating a new one, you want to have a mixture of keyword volumes being targeted. It’s the best way to cover all of your bases, as you’re capturing the attention of different segments of your target audience. High-volume keywords often represent broader topics and will attract more general traffic, while low-volume keywords will be more specific and attract a more niche audience. 

Furthermore, relying on high-volume keywords doesn’t result in a resilient strategy that can easily withstand situations such as competition improving its own rankings. Your site will experience less of an overall decrease in visibility if you are still getting traffic for mid to low volume keywords – giving you time to optimise for the larger volumes again. 

Look at the ads  

Chances are, you’ll spend at least some of your time optimising for SERPs which have ads in the top results. Instead of seeing them as annoyances which detract searchers from your own pages, consider that ads data is a valuable treasure trove of SEO data.   

If a site is running ads, they will have put the work in beforehand to get a list of converting keywords. After all, people won’t click on ads unless the words used have been proven to convince them to click through and purchase. You can pick up this information and ensure you rank organically for the keywords which other companies are paying to feature in the SERPs. 

To get further confirmation about the validity of certain keywords, you can trial them by bidding on them and testing out their conversion rate. You will end up with real-time data on the performance of specific keywords for driving conversions, which will be of great assistance in informing your organic SEO efforts. 

Check out the competition  

You can leverage competitor data to your advantage when it comes to creating keyword strategy. For example, you can examine the features of competitor content which is ranking for your chosen keywords and work to improve your own – for example, by demonstrating E-E-A-T to Google more thoroughly or improving the UX. 

Another trick is to input your chosen keyword which competitors are ranking for, create a cluster and begin targeting for low-hanging fruit. You can also target related keywords and build out tangential content, indicating a depth of knowledge to Google which can result in you leapfrogging over your competition in the SERPs. 

Give the people what they want 

We spoke earlier about ensuring content fulfils the audience’s needs. You want your target audience to be encouraged to click onto a page, derive value from the content, perform a further action – such as clicking onto another page, or making a purchase – and be left with a positive impression of the brand. 

The most valuable and accurate data you will receive is by speaking to your customers and prospective buyers. You can obtain information about their pain points and even what they are typing into Google to find you by liaising with your sales, marketing and business development teams. By going directly to your source, you can work out exactly what people are looking for and build your keyword strategy accordingly. 


Imogen Groome

Content Lead

Imogen is the SEO Content Lead at Skittle Digital. Imogen has worked in SEO since 2016. She helped to define SEO strategy at Metro.co.uk before guiding the newsroom at The Sun Online as SEO Editor. She has more than 5 years’ experience in scaling content strategies that drive revenue for brands through organic search channels. In her spare time, Imogen writes books, watches poor-quality reality TV and hangs out with her cats.

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