SEO Keywording In 4 Steps

> a strategy for ranking on determined keyword requests

Let’s focus today on what may be one of the most important aspect of on-page SEO : keywording, the art of choosing the search requests you want to get ranked on. And indeed this work of keywords identification and structuring might lay on a proven process basis : here I offer you my own one, based on the book “Google: arriver 1er sur les mots clés” written by Pascal Maupas (Dunod editions), and on my experience too of course.

NB: if you haven’t noticed it yet, I only deal with “White Hat” SEO, so this methodology in question only uses Penguin/Panda-friendly techniques – no cheating: it may take more time to see the results, but the positive effects of your work will have a long-term reach !

1. Keywords brainstorming

Start on paper: make a list of all keywords you think users may search for to reach your website, without any censorship – even ask colleagues or family for extra suggestions to complete it !

Then sort your keywords in an Excel spreasheet for example, making simply 2 columns: “Pages” (or also “sessions”, “categories” according to your type of business or website) and “Keywords”.

The next step will be to check the pertinence of your supposed keywords requests thanks to the most powerful (and moreover free) tool: the Google Adwords Keyword Generator Tool, available here:

Simply enter the list of keywords requests one after the other (I recommend working page after page, or category after category, etc.), then type in the letters in the Captcha and click Search.

Tips for the Keywords Generator (highlighted by red arrows on pic below) :

  • First look at the Searched Terms  field to see if you can keep the keywords you had thought of: you’ll see they generally have nothing to give you – no data found, or a very low number of monthly requests, so you’ll have to take it a little further ! To do so… :
  • Use the Keywords Ideas  field to find semantically close suggestions: you’ll have hundreds of ideas to choose from – click on a column’s name to sort them in increasing/decreasing order.
  • Tick all the requests you’d like to include to your selection: preferably select the requests that have a low competition rating (= a less important number of websites rank on them) but with high number of monthly requests (= they bring significant traffic).
  • Place your mouse cursor over the words “low”, “medium” or “high” in the Competition column to display its numerical rating.
  • To finish click the Import  button to save the selected data under an Excel spreadsheet.

To end this first phase, select no more than 5 requests you want to keep for each page/session/category, and report them into your original brainstorming document. You can highlight the final choice ones to make it even clearer :

2. Competitors benchmarking

Time for big piece of word, as for each selected keyword(s) request you’ll have to conduct a SERPs audit: this consists in searching for the keyword(s) in question in Google, analyzing the results methodologically.

Here we’ll only look at the 5 first ranking positions, for that anything below this limit does not have a sufficient visibility, and so by extension not a sufficient value to be worth working on it.

Let’s get it started: type one of your selected keyword(s) requests, and for each of the 5 first ranking results report the following data in a table > horizontally the rank number (from 1 to 5), and vertically the items that will allow you to proceed then to the SWOT* analysis of your competitors (* Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) :

  • Website name
  • Ranked URL
  • Page Authority
  • Domain Authority
  • Linking Root Domains
  • Total Links
  • <title>
  • <h1>

(download Excel spreadsheet template right there: SEO keywording – competitors benchmarking)

You’ll have to repeat the operation for each request you’ve previously chosen, and of course you’ll need other tools to collect the required elements – let me help you on this too :

  • Website name & Ranked URL > directly displayed in SERP
  • Page Authority & Domain Authority > use a PA / DA checker: or
  • Linking Root Domains & Total Links > use a backlinks checker: or
  • <title> & <h1> > open page, make a right click, choose Display page’s Source-code, use Ctrl+F shortcut to open a Search field, enter “title” or “h1″ and press Enter to find it.

When all of this is done compare the performances of your competitors to your own website’s ones, and now all you have to do if you make your brain work to define what ranking positions are winnable !

For example a website ranked in 4th position that has a very low number of backlinks plus an inexistent <h1> tag can definitely offer you to come before it as long as you gain a few more backlinks and you activate an efficient <h1> tag! Of course on some of your chosen requests you’ll have no chance to rank because the “Big Five” will be too powerful compared to your own page… So don’t give up and instead simply find other potential requests you can rank on !

3. Proceding to tags & content (re)writing

Now that we got all the elements we need it’s time to take action! Here’s a memo checklist in order of importance for all items concerned by keywording optimization :

  • URL
  • <title>
  • <h1>
  • links anchor text
  • main content text
  • <h2>
  • meta <description>
  • images <title> and <alt>
  • <strong>

Keep in mind that Google includes more than 200 criteria in its ranking algorithm, and the ones on that list are considered to be priority key ones by SEO specialists !

To finish and to perfect your editing, here are another few things to remember too :

  • The order of keywords does matter! Google reads (at least for our language) from left to right, and from top to bottom, so for example when writing a <title> tag make sure to place first your priority keyword, same for main content text – place your keywords preferably in the first lines of your text.
  • Google acknowledges only these 2 separators for keywords inside tags: | and
  • Make sure that all meta tags are activated (= present) and above all that they’re different for each page (especially for <title> & <h1>), otherwise their effect decreases.

4. Measuring results

Hum, not the easy part contrary to what we could think: in any case Google’s SERPs will be biased for the simple reason that results displayed always take in consideration all your previous researches, your web browsing habits, navigation cookies, etc… So when searching for precise keywords to see if the website you work on has “ascended” in ranking, well Google will automatically make it rise since it knows you’ve already visited it several times! Tricky, isn’t it ?

The solution for getting neutral, unbiased results may be to use any other computer – or to be more precise a different IP address, but anyway this is no doubt very inconvenient. Otherwise the use of dedicated tool(s) seems to be required on this phase, in other word the notorious “rank checkers”. I don’t have my particular fave yet, but here’s a selection of some pertinent ones:

Finally create another Excel document to collect the results so that you can follow your ranking evolution on chosen keywords, with for ex. date, tested keyword(s), URL of concerned page(s), ranking position – and make sure to maintaining it week after week!


As you can guess this whole process takes quite a lot of work, even more so if the requests on which you want to rank are numerous ! So if you don’t have enough time for this, well, contact a professional – turns out I offer SEO services at attractive price, check it out : <


Going further ? > As I said at the start of my post the present methodology process is inspired by the book “Google: arriver 1er sur les mots clés” (Pascal Maupas, Dunod editions).
And I can only advice you to read, and even buy it : I’d say this the most up-to-date work on the topic, offering very efficient pedagogical substance to understand the functioning of of Google, from SERPs to ranking algorithm, always with clear and simple vocabulary and examples. You’ll find in here everything you need to set up and conduct SEO keywording work : process and good practices, mistakes to avoid, complementary resources and tools, etc… And the book’s size even allows putting it in a handbag – quite an important point for me !

★★★★★☆ – in French, 192 pages, published Sept. 2012, 24€.

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