Keyword optimization: what it is and how it works

✔️ Technically Reviewed And Approved By Nomadic Team

This post was written by the amazing writers here at Nomadic Advertising!

November 29, 2022

Keyword optimization is organically incorporating into your content words and phrases that are highly searched for on search engines. The result of this process will be to get your website to rank higher in search results. To that end, selecting the appropriate keywords and incorporating them into your content will help your target audience easily find your website or products.

However, it isn’t quite as easy as it might sound. Companies typically bid on keywords with high search volume to rank higher on search engine results, so it may be challenging to rank higher organically without paid search marketing.

You should also keep in mind that keyword optimization isn’t something you do solely at the start of an organic search marketing campaign, there are other factors that go into it. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start this keyword optimization journey right at the beginning.

What are search engines?

First things first: a search engine is a software program that compiles and arranges content across the web. When a user inputs a search query, a search engine will provide a list of results that matches the search query. The results may be in the format of web page links, pictures, or videos.

Search engines can provide results quickly by continuously monitoring the Internet and indexing every page they locate. Despite the difference in algorithms, how search engines work is broken down into three stages:

  • Crawling

Web crawlers are software elements that search engines use to find online content accessible to the public. Web crawlers are also known as search engine spiders. The search engine crawlers locate the web servers that host the websites and then inspect them. The search engine crawling process determines the number of pages on each website and the nature of its content.

  • Indexing

SEO indexing is the process whereby crawlers categorize and store information. So when search engine users input queries, the information can be swiftly processed by search algorithms and presented. Only the data required by the algorithms to evaluate the relevance of the website for ranking purposes is saved by the search engine.

  • Ranking

When a search engine receives a query, the index is searched for relevant data and sorted by an algorithm into a hierarchical order. Ranking refers to the arrangement of the search engine results pages (SERPS). Different search engines produce different results because they utilize various algorithms.



What are keywords?

With that first step out of the way, let’s get back to business. Keywords are words or phrases that people continually input into search engines to find content relevant to their searches. One or two words can be used as a single keyword, or you can combine numerous words to form a more specialized keyword (long-tail keywords).

Singular keywords generally have high search volume, but they also have exceptionally tough competition. Singular keywords can be vague,  an example of a singular keyword is “bike”. If someone is searching for a “bike,” we don’t know if they need a list of types of bikes or places to buy a bike.

Long-tail keywords typically have a more defined intent. Examples of long-tail keywords could be “best hybrid/commuter bikes” or “inexpensive gravel road bikes”. Long-tail keywords also tend to have less competition.

What does “optimizing keywords” mean?

Keyword optimization is the process of including keywords in the content of a website. The purpose of keyword optimization is to ensure that your target keywords raise your organic search ranking and boosts traffic to your website.

When you optimize your keywords, it helps search engines crawl and comprehend your page’s content easily. As a result, people searching for such keywords will easily find your pages.

The keywords previously used to improve your search results may change in response to trends. Optimizing keywords is an ongoing process as user search intent and trends change, which means you might need to switch up your previous keyword strategy. Continuous keyword optimization helps develop a strategy that boosts leads and sales while driving more organic visitors to your website.

Benefits of optimizing keywords

Optimizing your keywords can provide valuable insight into your target audience’s search engine queries. The benefits of optimizing keywords include the following:

  • Insights on marketing trends

You can gain insights into current marketing trends by carrying out efficient keyword research for optimization. It assists you in focusing your content on the essential topics and keyphrases your audience is searching for.

  • Quality content

You can learn about your client’s needs and how to meet them by analyzing the search terms they use. This will help in optimizing your website content with keywords that will instantly address potential customers’ needs.

  • Customer acquisition

If your company has material/products/services other business professionals seek, you may address their needs while also providing a call to action. This will guide them through the purchase process, from awareness to purchasing. You can respond to your audience’s queries by researching keywords by their search volume and general intent.

  • Organic traffic increase

Optimizing keywords in content published on your webpage will assist you in ranking higher in search engine results. This will draw more organic traffic to your website.


What is keyword research?

If you now understand what optimizing your keywords entails, but are unsure of how to get those keywords in the first place, we have got you covered. It all starts with solid research. Keyword research involves discovering and evaluating the words and phrases your target audience enters on search engines. Keyword research aims to get insightful information about the queries, problems, and answers your target audience is looking for. You can then use the knowledge gained about these search phrases to improve your marketing plan and content strategy.

Targeting the proper keywords through thorough research is critical to search engine optimization success. Allow us to give you some insight into our own keyword research process here at Nomadic Advertising: when we conduct our own keyword research, the three factors we consider include relevance, authority, and search volume. When we have met all three, our keyword research helps us understand our clients’ purchasing journeys, their competitive market, and how we can best create a relevant content marketing strategy for them.

Keyword selection

Now that we have researched all the possible keywords, the following step will be to select the best ones that are bound to help our clients rank in Google’s top organic search results.

Keyword selection for search engine optimization entails more than just picking words and phrases that are both relevant and often searched. Our years of experience have allowed us to conclude that the success of an SEO strategy depends on the selection, strategic placement, and usage of keywords in marketing activities. A psychological understanding of user intentions and actions is necessary for selecting the best keywords.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting keywords:

  • Keyword relevance

When choosing keywords for optimization, we consider their relevance to your goods or services. Search engines will not direct traffic to your web pages if your keywords are not naturally relevant to what you are offering. Without relevance, you have little chance of converting searchers into loyal customers.

  • Keyword intent

We ascertain the searchers’ intentions to assess the value of the keywords to use for your blog post. By matching content and landing pages to the visitors’ goals, keyword intent enables us to meet their demands better. The intent behind search inquiries can be divided into three categories: navigational, informational, and transactional.

How to choose the keywords?

We understand that thinking of keywords in terms of “good” or “bad”, “the best ones”, etc., might be too broad; you should think of it more in terms of being well-positioned in high-quality content and frequently searched by the target audience. Here are a few tips on how to select keywords for your website and content:

  • Analyze search intent

Search intent assists in determining which keywords to choose based on why people search them. We consider your target audience when selecting keywords to get the best results. Searches like ‘buy low-cost water heater’ are very different from ‘how to fix a broken tap’ queries. The first is an informational keyphrase, whereas the second is commercial.

If you present a user with a product to buy when they may be looking for informative content, you aren’t addressing their needs. Your keywords will direct traffic to specific landing sites or web pages dedicated to those search terms. Therefore, having your content written by an SEO agency can assist it in matching your keywords when search engines crawl your website.

  • Search on Google

Start by entering your initial keyword suggestions into Google’s home page. Search for and add to your list any relevant keywords that Google tries to auto-fill. Then, scan the first page of result titles for recurring topics or words to better understand user intent.

  • Use “good” keywords

High search volume, little competition, and high conversion rates are characteristics of “good” keywords. Almost all keywords with high search volume are very competitive, which is why we recommend targeting the keywords that still have a reasonable search volume but might not be as highly searched as the first results. Words and phrases that are too generic and have low search volumes are examples of “bad” keywords.

  • Leverage paid search insights

We highly recommend working with a paid search (PPC advertising) team to better understand keyword optimization, and inform your SEO keyword targeting decisions. SEO experts will assist you in ranking higher on search engine results pages by extracting information from SEM data. With search engine marketing data, we can filter out certain topics and calculate the search volume for particular terms or phrases.

  • Choose the right keywords with an SEO agency

Selecting the best keywords will significantly affect the ranks of your company website. We are sure you can conduct the research independently, but we must warn you it requires time, previous experience and skill to do it well. Our process as a marketing agency with a special interest and expertise in SEO is to avoid selecting the ideal keywords for your website through automated tools, which makes all the difference. Our clients have been able to see actual results on their Google Analytics dashboard and start to rank high on Google’s organic search results, all thanks to our experienced team of SEO analysts.


What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords allow you to remove search phrases from your campaigns and focus on the search queries that are important to your clients. Better targeting can increase your return on investment (ROI) by placing your advertisement in front of interested potential customers.

Selecting what not to target is one of the keys to a successful campaign, you could consider searching for search terms similar to yours when choosing negative keywords for advertising. Keep in mind, these phrases can be relevant to clients looking for a different good and your ads may reach fewer consumers if you overuse negative keywords. Nevertheless, negative keywords can help to increase Click-Through Rates, ensuring that your adverts only appear in response to relevant queries.


What should you evaluate when optimizing keywords?

When determining which keywords to choose for your optimizations efforts, the following are several factors you should consider:

1. Keyword difficulty

Checking the keyword difficulty of the keywords you’re evaluating should be your initial step. It makes no difference if the keyword has massive search traffic and is only used by buyers. If a keyword is too competitive, we do not target it as the chances of ranking for it is low. Most keyword research tools provide a rough idea of how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword. The highest keyword difficulty to aim for primarily depends on the overall authority of your website.

You can target terms with reasonably high competition if your website is an established older site with lots of backlinks. However, if your website is new and has few backlinks, you should first concentrate almost entirely on low-competition keywords, given that the chances of ranking for a highly competitive search topic increase with your authority score.

2. Search volume

An essential factor we consider while evaluating primary keywords is monthly search volume. The best keywords are typically those with more significant monthly search volumes. When you rank for a keyword, more searches indicate more potential traffic to your website. Focusing too much on search volume has the drawback that high-volume terms might generate a lot of traffic, but not always potential buyer traffic.

3. Trend

Ranking for most keywords involves considerable effort, including content planning, writing, publishing, on-page SEO, link building, and other activities. Therefore, it’s critical to understand how searches for that primary keyword have changed over time.

It is possible to put a lot of effort into search engine ranking for a relevant keyword only to experience a decline in search volume. Before attempting to rank for that term, it’s critical to understand its trend. Also, if you rank for a trending keyword, you may eventually see an increase in traffic.

Keyword optimization techniques

The flexibility of keyword optimization is its most challenging aspect. Google makes multiple adjustments to its algorithm every year, and keeping track of every change is impossible. You’ll have an advantage over your competitors if you keep up with some of the major trends and keyword optimization strategies.

The following is a list of significant keyword optimization techniques we have found very useful:

  • Map your keywords

Keyword mapping involves strategically placing target keywords and phrases throughout a website. Once we compile a list of relevant keywords, we assess each term and determine which page on the website it belongs to. We can avoid keyword stuffing on the front page by mapping keywords.

Mapping also helps avoid keyword repetition on each page. Determine what distinguishes each blog post from the others, then organize the keywords to match this. You want to use a keyword on a page with content similar to the top search results for that keyword.

  • Optimize for google passage ranking

Passage ranking is when search engines rank specific web passages and the entire page. If a page covers a different subject compared to the search query, Google can still extract parts from that page. Google is indexing that particular piece of content because it recognizes a relevant keyword there.

Your primary focus should be organizing posts into distinct sections and using keywords as section headings. These sections should contain concise text that is narrowly focused on the subtopic. While these parts should always be relevant to your primary topic, they should also make sense in their own right.

  • Focus on featured snippets

Featured snippets are displayed in a rectangular box in position zero or at the top of the SERP page. Although you can’t choose the content that appears in a highlighted snippet, you can optimize your content to make it more likely to do so.

For featured snippets, you can utilize long-tail keywords or questions. A search query is more likely to return a featured snippet if it contains more words. You should create all of your content with the user’s intent in mind.

  • Create new content

You have the opportunity to optimize new content for current SEO best practices immediately. Prioritize product titles, content headers, subheaders, internal linking, picture alt text, and the new keywords you’re aiming for. When looking for an answer to a topic, individuals frequently glance at the date to see if it is relevant.

If all of your posts contain out-of-date information and dates, people will swiftly move on to the next search results. Additionally, when you post more, Google will index your pages more regularly, which will speed up the process of your content ranking.

Keyword optimization tools

Several tools are designed specifically for keyword optimization, ranging from beginner-friendly to highly advanced. The best keyword optimization tools make it easy to uncover the keywords to target and provide you with the information you need to rank for those keywords. They also simplify and streamline your workflow. Here are some of the best keyword optimization tools available

  1. Google Keyword Planner – Although Google’s keyword research tool is primarily weighted toward commercial keyword placement, it provides some unique data. You can enter any keyword and see how many monthly searches it receives. A lengthy list of similar keyword suggestions will also be displayed, which you can scroll through or download. This can be used for free, unlike other paid tools.
  2. Semrush – Semrush provides relevant keyword data and makes it simple to analyze the details. It offers SERP elements, including featured snippets, site links, reviews, and image packs. Semrush provides a variety of tools, including content-driven keyword research and competitive keyword gap analysis. You can use it for free at low volumes to start, but you are required to pay a fee to access the most advanced features.
  3. Google Search Console – You can learn a lot about the keywords driving your actual search traffic using Search Console. It is an online tool provided by Google that enables users to examine the indexing status, search terms, crawling issues, and website visibility optimization. Google Search Console is entirely free to use.


Key takeaways 

  • Keywords are words or phrases that your target audience continually searches for. They can be one or two words and get a high search volume but perhaps equally high competitive levels, or contain more words that are specific to your niche and become long-tail keywords.
  • Keyword optimization is the process of including keywords in the content of a website to raise your organic search ranking and boost traffic to your website.
  • Optimizing your keywords will help you gain insights into marketing trends, and create quality content by directly addressing your target audience’s needs and increasing your organic traffic.
  • Begin by researching the keywords that could be most relevant to your industry. Then, prioritize them based on how relevant they are and the searchers’ intentions behind them.
  • When optimizing your keywords, you should evaluate their level of difficulty, their search volume and the market trends that could influence them.


By now it should be abundantly clear how important keywords are for your overall SEO strategy. We have tried to give you a comprehensive guide to see if you want to give it a try on your own, but we know firsthand what a thorough process this is. The first step will always be to understand the task at hand, and with this guide, we hope you now have at the very least a beginner’s understanding of the topic.
If this whole strategy sounds like exactly what you were looking for, feel free to contact us and allow us to show you everything we can do for your business. Keyword research is just a small part of our comprehensive SEO process: we create a tailor-made campaign designed for each particular client, with which we effectively meet both their needs and desires, and have been able to help them rank in Google’s top organic search engine results, this has made a huge impact on their companies. You can also visit our website to claim your FREE 30-minute strategy, where we will delve into what your business needs to improve sails, gain leads, and much more.

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