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Updated: Jan 30, 2023

Picking Keywords for SEO

While it is crucial to have a well-designed website, if no one can find you via search engines, the point is mute. More than just having a website is required. While 77% of Canadian businesses in 2019 had a website, only 64% of small businesses had one, up from 50% in 2014. This first article focuses on Keywords.


What are keywords? Keywords are the words or phrases potential prospects type into a search engine to find information. Keywords are essential for websites if you want to use online advertising with Google for ad placement. Long-tail keywords are 4+ words strung together, which is what most web traffic consists of through search engines.

The Right Keywords

One of the issues many businesses have is understanding what users will type in the search engine to find their business, products, and services. It is sometimes impossible not to have tunnel vision thinking you know what someone will type to find your website. We worked with a client in an industrial business that insisted that certain words would have clients find their website. Unfortunately, a few of the words/phrases they chose were only searched by ten people in Canada in a month. That would not get them the traffic they needed.

  • One way to determine keywords is to look at competitors' websites that rank well and determine their keywords.

  • Use an SEO tool with keyword help and analysis to help select and suggest relevant keywords and analyze them against competitors.

  • Think about how you search and today, so many pose questions, so think of questions that someone would type to find your business and products/services.

  • Ask your clients what they would type in to find your business if they were searching today. I have done this several times. We provide a free consultation, and almost all users find us through an online search. I ask them what they typed in to find us, and they are more than happy to provide that information.

Keyword Volume and Ranking

As or more important than the correct words/phrases for your website is the average volume or number of times that word is searched. This is where long-tail keywords are essential. If you are a restaurant, the chances of ranking for this term are slim as the term is broad and the competition (ranking) is high. You want to narrow the search to distinguish your business. You might use "sushi restaurants in Markham." There still will be many, but your competition is less than sushi restaurants or restaurants or sushi.

You may have to use more keywords/phrases to drive traffic. Instead of focusing only on volume with high competition, the key is looking at keywords/phrases with low to medium competition but still having some volume level. Many Keyword or SEO tools will provide you with this information for volume and ranking.

Placement of Keywords

So, where exactly do you put keywords? It would help if you looked to put keywords in the following places:

  • In your headings.

    • Websites include headers H1-H6, with most being H1-H3.

  • In your page titles

    • These are the titles that show on the browser tab. You have 70 characters, so use the keyword (s) if possible. Example: Your Business Name | Page Name | keyword.

  • In your page name -

    • The page name should reflect what is on the page, but this is suggested if you can incorporate a keyword.

  • In the body of the text of your page

    • Use keywords sparingly, as this can work against you versus working for you. This is called keyword stuffing, and search engines can lower your ranking.

  • In Alt Tags or Anchors

    • This is true only if relevant to the picture or anchors.

Will My Traffic Increase Immediately?

The answer to this question is no. This is something that takes time. We rank in the top 3 or page one for several keywords. For one phrase, we compete head-to-head with a crown corporation. Depending on the day, we will be in position one, two, or three, which ranks above or below them. Our ranking for this phrase took six years to land in the top 3 , as this was a high-competition keyword phrase. It will also change over time up and down for the following reasons.

  • You gain additional competition, and the search engine thinks their content is more relevant for that keyword.

  • You are stuffing keywords into your website, and the search engines determine the use of the keywords are too abundant and need to make more sense as to how they are used on the page.

  • A current competitor works on their website to improve their rankings and surpasses you.

  • If your keywords are not relevant to the content on the page they are on will not rank as high as those that the search engine algorithm determines.

  • If your website stagnates for a while and does not change, your rankings could drop. Search engines are calculating keywords constantly. With the keyword tool we use, we can see rankings change daily. You want to stay at an average ranking for your top keywords.


Keywords are only one component of the ways to help increase traffic on your website. The idea is to understand the keywords relevant to someone searching for your business and products/services. Next, you need to know that this is not a one-time exercise and will only gain traffic after some time.. If the concepts in this article do not make sense, we would advise you to get help in determining the keywords for your business. We could help with this through a custom consulting engagement or business coaching.


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