Finding keywords is easy. Finding the right keywords, organizing them into optimizable groups, and determining where and how they get optimized into the site is another story all together. Generally, keyword research is done at the hands of the SEO. Taking those keywords and integrating them into the content is the job of the Copywriter.

Under most circumstances, you want defer to the person who has the strongest skills for each particular task. Let the SEO determine which keywords are best, and let the Copywriter work them into the page. But, when it comes to actually deciding which chosen keywords make it into any particular body of content, the Copywriter needs to have final say.

Only a great fool will reach for what he was given.

The SEO often chooses keywords based on things like popularity, importance, and ability to convert. All very important factors, and very likely the keywords that the site needs for optimization. But, sometimes keywords are chosen incorrectly. Sometimes the keyword selection process is circumvented by someone else. Perhaps a boss has a "pet" keyword they want to rank for because they said so. Don't laugh, it happens.

One of the most common ways to choose a keyword incorrectly is based on competitor usage. While you may want to analyze your competition to see what keywords they are targeting as part of their SEO efforts, you don't want to automatically use a phrase or keyword that they did, just because they did.

I've seen this time and time again. A client says, "We need to rank for "x" because my competitor is." A little research will show that this particular phrase gets little to no search volume, but none of that matters to the client. Getting good rankings for that keyword may work, but there may be others that would work better. So, is it worth taking the focus off of other keywords that are likely to be more effective to focus on others just because a competitor is using them? The answer is no, it's not.

Competitor Uses, Doesn't Fit, Single Word

Choosing single-word terms is tempting due to the search volume those terms have. Clients often choose these words on that basis alone. Single-word terms are not only difficult to rank for, they generally produce very poor conversions as well. Still, they are tempting targets for business owners who see dollar signs in every potential visit. But, instead of creating dollars, these keywords steal profits away through efforts that are better invested in other places.

I mentioned above that the ultimate decision of a keyword being worked into the page should be that of the Copywriter. Sometimes a keyword can hit all the right criteria, but when it comes to actually working it into the content, it simply doesn't work. This can be for any number of issues, such as it containing a poor qualifier (which depicts a benefit that isn't offered), or it's simply an industry term that just isn't a match for the rest of the user-focused content.

The Copywriter's job isn't to force every keyword given to them into the page. Their job is to make sure the keywords they are given do work and to leave out those that don't.

The Copywriter might have to do some research of their own, looking at the products, features, benefits, term definitions, etc. If, when all is said and done, the keyword doesn't work on a page, it needs to be deconsidered. (Ooh, new word... I like it!) The Copywriter may have to pull rank and tell the SEO and/or the site owner what's what.

The key here is that the keyword research process doesn't end with the SEO. It needs to continue all the way through to the copywriting process. Don't let the keyword selection and optimization process be derailed by people picking keywords for all the wrong reasons. Make sure all of your targeted terms work on all levels before demanding they get used on the page.

August 9, 2010

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


RE"Perhaps a boss has a "pet" keyword they want to rank for because they said so. Don't laugh, it happens."

I didn't laugh, I cried. Because I know it happens, a lot.

@Josh, Dude, I'm sorry to have brought up up such painful memories. ;)

So would you say it is up to the Copyrighter to leave out the keywords that clients insist on having?? Of course it is important to use keywords that work, but if they want them included and can't be convinced otherwise it can be very tricky.

I think to compete with your competitors for the main keywords through seo are the best ways, the reason they are using it is because that's what the average person would search for, hence it's competitive.

It's a tough one alright. In general I'd agree with the SEO/Copywriter dynamic, although sometimes if you're blogging you don't have the luxury of either of these. I tend to have a rummage in the keywordtool and front-load if it's a trending topic, but I have to say it doesn't always come naturally. I think the key (as with most things in life!) Is to strike a balance, you can use keywords and specific phrases, but you have to be sure not to overload your copy. If in doubt, leave it out. Part of being succesful (and happy) as a blogger is realising that not every post can be a massive hit.

Selecting the right keywords is by far the most important part of SEO and online marketing in general. There is nothing worse than selecting a keyword, putting loads of time and effort into content creation, SEO link building etc to rank well for it, then to get innapropriate traffic and low conversions. What a waste of time and money!

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.

Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Who Told You THAT Was a Good Keyword?