SEO Basics: What makes a good Keyword List for SEM & SEO Copywriting?

Keywords (a.k.a. search terms) are the words and phrases that people use to proactively find what they are looking for in search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. The choice of keywords that prospects use to find what they are seeking on the web is a critical factor in determining what sites are going to be served up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

SEO Basics: Keyword List for SEO Copywriting

Definition of a Keyword:

  • A word that serves as a key to a code or cipher.
  • A significant or descriptive word.
  • A word used as a reference point for finding other words or information.
  • Any significant word or phrase, esp. a word used to describe the contents of a document.

Many of the top-ranking webpages, for any search query, rank prominently because their site owners are paying attention to the importance of SEO copywriting (writing content that is both interesting and search engine friendly) and optimizing (onsite and offsite) a particular webpage for specific keywords based on their keyword list, and the content of their page. Conversely, the majority of sites that don’t rank in the first few pages for a search engine result, often rank poorly because site owners are not engaged in the SEO Basics of building an appropriate list of keywords, or any keyword list at all – it’s astounding how many otherwise sound websites fall into this category.

A good keyword list is the cornerstone of Search Engine Optimization and Marketing (SEO & SEM).  It is a list of keywords thematically related to the content of a website or webpage, containing relevant search terms with a high probability of being used by a site’s target market to search for the site’s offering (i.e. sufficient relevant search volume). A keyword list should contain search terms that present a reasonable chance for the site to appear in the SERPs  (i.e. low competition; or a relatively low number of webpages indexed for a particular search term, vs. relatively high search volume for the term).

The ideal size of the keyword list will vary in proportion to the size and scope of the site or campaign. An individual webpage should only target a few primary keywords, and keep the keyword density in the single percentages relative to other content, so as to avoid keyword stuffing. Keyword derivatives and variations in the text are acceptable, providing they flow naturally within the content and are used selectively.

The length of each keyword search term is also important. One-word search terms are usually too general (with a few exceptions such as keywords promoting a brand) and often return too many results for your site to be found. Keywords consisting of more than three or four terms are often too specific, resulting in low search volume. Niche sites and campaigns, however, employing long-tail keywords (keywords that don’t have high general appeal, but do have strong specific market appeal, representing the ‘longtail’ of a distribution curve, and are often, but not necessarily, more than 3 terms in length) can be highly successful when targeted correctly.

In other words, you want to use keywords that accurately represent the content on your page (Google is increasingly adept at determining the strength of this relationship, and you loose credibility if this relationship is weak) and that your prospects are likely enter when they are looking for what you are offering, without being too vague or too specific. Your keywords should also give your site a decent chance to stand out from other webpages that are served up in the SERPs.

There are other important factors that influence the rankings in a SERP, such as the number of quality backlinks to a site (or internet votes) and onsite elements such as the quality of your content, usability of your site, load time etc.  However, most of the important ranking factors relate back to your keyword list; for example, a backlink with one or more of your chosen keywords as anchor text will usually give you more juice for that search term (helping you to consciously improve your rankings) than a link with only a URL or generic keywords as anchor text.

When the Samurai Warrior had the strategic plan of attack laid out, it was time to chose the appropriate tactics and weapons to win the battle. Methodologies and tools for keyword research and implementation to be discussed soon.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


rssComments RSS

Hey James, I’m a huge fan! There is some very useful information here and I look forward to hearing more about how it can help ME.
BTW I love the personal touch on your site and hope to see more of that essence in your future blog posts.

Comment by Katherine Archer on February 22, 2012 10:25 pm

Hi Katherine,

Thanks for the feedback and for being a huge fan… I intend to offer up some good value in this amazing space… so stay tuned!


Comment by jtaylor on February 23, 2012 4:26 pm

This was a very interesting subject. With good SEO copywriting you can really take your website to a wider audience as it will be mass appealing and people will be attracted with the good titles that you have posted on your website.

Comment by Jan on February 23, 2012 1:24 am

Hi Jan,

Thanks for taking an interest and dropping me a line. I certainly agree that this is powerful stuff. Good SEO copywriting helps good content shine = good internet experience. By casting a wide, but strategically aimed net, with select keywords baked right into the content and metadata, a good flow of traffic can be achieved!


Comment by jtaylor on February 23, 2012 4:41 pm

I usually don’t leave remarks at blogs, but your post inspired me to comment on your blog. Thank you for sharing!

Comment by Xii Net on February 24, 2012 1:54 am

Hi Xii Net,

Always glad to share some inspiration! Thanks for your comments.


Comment by jtaylor on February 25, 2012 10:31 am

Like the blog

Comment by Ann on February 24, 2012 3:11 pm

Hi Ann,

Much appreciated! Thanks for stopping by,


Comment by jtaylor on February 25, 2012 10:34 am

No osfenfe.. well some osfenfe back but personally I think that is an absolute load of crap. I want my blogs to rank in the search engines and knowing what keywords I can use to help that helps me achieve my goals. That does not mean you spam the content but if you can use the keywords then why would you not?But hey.. everyone is allowed their opinions and I respect yours don’t agree with it but respect it.PS > what blogging should be about > in that case no one should have ads, affiliate mentions, opt ins and everything else monetized on the majority of blog.

Comment by Rudi on March 1, 2012 1:25 pm

Hi Rudi,

Thanks for your input. I think we’re actually on the same page. The idea with SEO Copywriting is not to “spam the content” with keywords, but rather to selectively integrate keywords, that are both good for search and accurately reflect the content… in a best of both worlds scenario.


Comment by jtaylor on March 14, 2012 10:41 am

Thanks for the post.
More and more businesses are starting to become aware of the importance of SEO and SEO copywriting – what good is being online if no one can find you. It’s not just about having the right keywords, but they should also be strategically placed into your website in order to be effective.

Comment by Andria Gaskin on March 23, 2012 6:08 pm

Hi Andria,

Thanks for your comment… much appreciated! I completely agree, finding the right keywords is only one part of the equation for SEO success. How you use those keywords in your content and metadata is equally important. I think the trick is to integrate a few, select and relevant, keywords per webpage, naturally into the content (which should be good quality of course) and reflect this accurately in the metadata for the page. The major search engines like Google and Bing will verify the relationship and smile on your efforts with progressively higher search engine rankings. I’ll be posting more about effective keyword usage soon!


Comment by jtaylor on March 23, 2012 7:35 pm

Give your content a great deal of effort and thought. A lot of people think only of keywords and don’t really put thought into the content they publish online. While you want keywords to be present, you don’t want to skip out on offering quality information that is needed to help encourage a following. Keywords can’t do it alone.

Comment by marketing on internet on July 22, 2012 8:24 am

This is a very good point, thanks for submitting it!

More than ever, Google is rewarding sites with high quality content in the Search Engine Rankings. Content that is well written, interesting and relevant is also more likely to be promoted in social media. Good SEO keywords can be found for virtually any decent piece of writing, but good keywords don’t do much to make a bad piece of writing better.


Comment by jtaylor on July 22, 2012 9:01 am

Choosing the right keywords to optimize for is thus the first and most crucial step to a successful SEO campaign.

Comment by Magento Web Design on December 8, 2012 8:28 am

Hi Magento,

Thanks for stopping by. Yes, conscious choice of keywords is a very important element in the process of SEO. What many people fail to realize is that there are good keywords for any piece of quality content. However, using these keywords in the metadata to accurately reflect the content for search engines does require some work.


Comment by jtaylor on December 12, 2012 9:55 am

Very True! working with wrong keywords is like sailing your ship without a proper compass.

“SEO content writing”, is an art using science.

Nice Post.

Comment by SEO Training Jaipur on December 14, 2012 12:55 pm

Hello SEO Training Jaipur,

I agree that working with the wrong keywords, or no keywords at all (which is often the case for many otherwise great websites) is a lot like sailing a ship without a compass… or even a map. If we want our webpages to be found by our target audience, we need to know what keywords to put in play.


Comment by jtaylor on December 14, 2012 2:14 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.