How to choose keywords for SEO?

In this article we explain how you should choose the right keywords for your SEO strategy. We talk about customer journeys, SEO tools, search intention and competition. Read all about SEO and keywords here.

Sam van Houten
May 19, 2022
5 min read

There is no doubt possible, keywords are the most important part of SEO. In fact, keywords can make or break your SEO campaign. Luckily, you are already doing great when thinking about which keywords to use to generate more traffic for your project. In this article we will use 5 steps to explain how you can can choose the right keywords for SEO.

  1. Start with keyword analysis
  2. Find out which search intent exist in your keyword set
  3. Determine the customer journey of target audience
  4. Analyse the competition
  5. Combine pages and keywords

Ready, set, let's go!

1. Start with keyword analysis

A keyword analysis is an important part in SEO. You try to understand your target audience and find out what your potential clients are looking for. Such insights will later be used to optimise your website and content. The first step is to create an extensive list of keyword ideas. Basically, the more the better. In this first fase you will not yet focus on search volume, competition or cost per click. Let your creativity run loose and start with a brainstorm sessie. Write down words related to your website, product or service. Keep a list of these in for example sheets or excel, these words will be the origin of your extensive keyword list. From here on there are a few tools you can use.

Seed keywords

A ‘’seed’’ zoekwoord is the shortest form of a query. For example, when searching "Where to find kopi luwak coffee beans?", "coffee beans" would be your seed keyword. The tool Seed Keywords will generate insights in your search, how? You will create a scenario to ask questions to your clients. The tool will keep track of what people enter and give you the list of keywords they would use. You will be surprised which keywords people use to actually find you, some you would never had thought of. A tip for the usage of this tool is to keep the scenario neutral, for example: "You want to book a weekend trip, what would you search?" instead of "You are looking for a cheap weekend away, what would you search?". This way you will gain more insights and not push the users into your narrowed vision. The seed keywords are also a great starting point for some of the other keyword analysis tools.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is technically designed for Google Ad campaigns. However, Keyword Planner is perfect for keyword research. You can type in multiple search terms and the tool will give you your extensive list of related keywords. Choose your keywords from this list that are related to your project and add them to your sheet. Be careful though, Keyword Planner can be very generic.

Google Suggest

Google Suggest is a smart place to find some long-tail keywords. It's actually a feature of Google to help you determine what to search for when typing. Try it out by typing in your seed keyword in Google and see which suggestions they give you. The suggestions are based on what other users search for when using those terms.


With Semrush you can go "behind enemy lines" for a second. Type in de url of your competitor and the tool will show you which keywords they are ranking for in Google. Choose your competitors wisely, because some may be a competitor offline but not online. When comparing yourself with a dominant organisation, some keywords may have a too high competition for you to rank for. However, that's something we will come back to later.

KeyWI for grouping

For a more efficient keyword analysis it's a good idea to group your keywords based on similarity and relevance. This is where KeyWI comes in handy. Our tool uses your keyword list as a starting point and gathers Google's results for each keyword. These result are then used to determine how much every keyword looks alike, it searches for relations. Such relations show how similar two keywords are in the eyes of Google as they show the same results for them.

When applying this approach you will directly know which keywords to use in the same content piece or page. You will be able to distinguish main and subtopics and will rank faster for these subtopics as they often contain long-tail keywords with a bit lower volume. If you also set your internal linking based on these clusters and subclusters, you will slowly see your main topic also gaining in rank.

2. Find out which search intent exist in your keyword set

During your keyword analysis search intent is something you should not forget about. Search intent is also known as the goal a user has when using a certain keyword in his or her Google Search. The keyword intent can be split into four categories:

1. Informational intent

The intention someone has when looking for information is called informational intent. The searcher is for example looking for facts, news or inspiration The searches are often quite simple and recognisable by the following trigger words: what, when, who, why, how, facts, tips and examples.

2. Navigational intent

The intention someone has when looking for a specific website or place on the internet (not to be mistaken with the search for a place to go for a drink). The searcher is looking for a specific domain or url where they can do or find something. For example: log in or contact an organisation. The navigational queries are recognisable by trigger words like brand names, products or services.

3. Commercial investigative intent

When performing commercial investigation someone is looking for a website or place to perform a transaction, he or she might not yet know where or exactly what. The searcher knows he or she wants to perform a transaction but is stil in comparison mode to find the perfect fit. The commercial investigation intent is recognisable by the following trigger words: compare, vs, versus, top, best, deals, review, characteristics or products.

4. Transactional intent

The transactional intent is applicable when someone is ready to buy, download or sign up for example. The transactional intent often follows after commercial investigation, however not always. Sometimes people already know exactly what they want or need. In both cases they want to perform a transaction and the intent is transactional. This intention is recognisable by the following trigger words: buy, shop, coupon, discount, cost, order, delivery, return and sale.

KeyWI for intent

Besides grouping keywords, KeyWI uses the Google search results to predict search intentions. Per search term you will see which intention someone has. Thanks to grouping the keywords you will now be able to know which intentions a cluster exists of. You can use this insight to understand which type of page you will need to create and which goal your potential visitor has. See our example below of different brands that are bought by true coffee fanatics, both drip and immersion coffee. Since a lot of people are comparing these, Google knows people want to learn about the differences and might be looking for the other product. These are therefor showing similar results in Google and have been grouped together by KeyWI. Back to intention, we see a navigational and commercial intent for "aeropress v60". People are searching branded and comparing two types of machines. We even found a keyword "duismann coffee" which is a company reselling the aeropress.

screenshot of keywi tool for intent prediction

3. Determine customer journey of target audience

Now we have a list of keywords, preferably grouped in clusters based on topics and intentions are predicted. The next step is to determine the customer journey of your target audience. A consumer almost never decides to buy something in one go. Jeffrey Lant invented one of the most ancient marketing rules, the rule of 7. This rule claims a consumer by average needs 7 touchpoints before he or she is ready to buy. It may be an old concept but not less relevant. Google is known for it's See-Think-Do-Care model and uses this to focus on the customer journey.

See-fase: During this fase you are planting seeds for a relatively large audience. You want this audience to get to know your product or service, as they are in search of information or have interest in a certain topic. The target audience does not yet have direct transactional intention and your goal is to be top of mind when they do get there.

Think-fase: The target audience knows your product or service in this fase and is searching with a goal. He or she wil be comparing and thinking before acting. This is where you want to make clear why they should interact with you, your product or service, and which solution you are providing them.

Do-fase: In this fase your goal is conversion. The audience is almost ready to transact in this fase but might need a push or nudge.

Care-fase: This fase focuses on binding customers and creating brand loyalty. You want to be valuable for as long as possible for your audience. By keeping them interested or asking for feedback or tips, the chances to stay on top of mind will grow. Besides a happy customer is great marketing too.

This model shows you the importance of focussing on the complete journey. You will be able to connect with potential visitors at any stage. Try to find out which steps your visitors take and which keywords you should use at those stages.

4. Analyse the competition

Part of choosing keywords is to see where others are already doing a good job. There are two reasons why you want to analyse your competitors:

  1. It's easier to rank for keywords where little content exists. If your competitors are not yet writing content about certain keywords, that can be your competitive advantage.
  2. It's always good to analyse competitors to find out which keywords you might have forgotten. They analysed their target audience and might have found some interesting insights on how to lure them in.

A way of doing this is entering a keyword in Google (in private browsing mode or with a VPN) and check out who ranks first page. First thing to do is check out the ranking domains, some questions you should be keeping in mind are:

  • Who is in the top 10 in most searches?
  • Which ones contain paid ads and who is posting them?
  • What page types are ranking top 10?
  • What content is ranking?

When you see large organisations dominating the cluster you want to rank for, the difficulty to get there is much higher. There are always plenty clusters that have high opportunity for you, they might seem less tempting due to a lower search volume. Do not forget that search volume accumulates, rank for several low volume keywords instead of one high volume keyword.

5. Combine pages and keywords

We've arrived at the last part of this article. It is time to turn your keyword list into a structured content plan and combine your pages with keywords. It's important to keep in mind that an individual page ranks for certain keywords, not your complete website. By translating your customer journey into keywords you will be creating a flow in the new content which you should use for the structure of your new pages. For example, people who search for information want to end up on a blog page. However if your answer to an informational question is a product, do not forget to send your visitors to a place where they can buy the product. An overview of your new content is a good way to start your new tasks, you will be able to exactly see which keywords should be used for which new content piece. Try to avoid using the same keywords in multiple pages. Keep in mind what the goal of your content is, which intention a visitor might have and where they are in their customer journey.

The 5 steps form a good base for choosing the right keywords for your SEO and applying them to your website. Wondering how KeyWI can help you out? Check out our demo here.

Sam van Houten co-founder KeyWI
Sam van Houten

Sam van Houten is Co-Founder of KeyWI, has an educational background in data science and is always eager to learn new stuff. Together with the KeyWI team he has been busy developing SEO software and understanding how to use code to automate and smarten SEO tasks.

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