How to Choose Important Keywords for SEO | Explanation of 5 Selection Steps and Effective Strategies



  • Don’t you know how to choose SEO strategy keywords…?

    Keyword selection is one of the most crucial tasks in SEO.

    This is because keywords serve as the foundation for every step in SEO, including content creation and site structure determination.

    Moreover, whether you can achieve “top ranking” and “results” depends significantly on the keywords you target.

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that the results of SEO are determined at the moment of keyword selection.

    To emphasize its importance, it’s known that 36.2% of SEO experts dedicate most of their time to keyword research.
    Reference: Search Engine Journal – Where Do SEO Professionals Spend Time & Budget? [Survey Results]

    However, if you’re just starting with SEO, you probably don’t know the specific procedures and criteria for choosing keywords.

    So, in this article, we have summarized the steps for choosing keywords (procedure) that you can implement immediately and an effective keyword strategy for SEO.

    Topics in this article

    • How to Choose SEO Strategy Keywords【5 Steps】
    • Keyword Strategy for Top Ranking

    If you want to achieve results with SEO, start by working on keyword selection with reference to this article.

    *Please consider the content introduced this time as a reference for one of the methods of keyword selection.

    How to Choose SEO Strategy Keywords【5 Steps】

    Now let’s introduce the specific steps for choosing keywords.

    The steps are as follows:

    5 Steps

    • Step 1: Identify Core Keywords
    • Step 2: Expand Keywords
    • Step 3: Investigate Search Volume
    • Step 4: Group Keywords According to Search Intent
    • Step 5: Choose Keywords and Prioritize

    We will explain each one in detail.

    Step 1: Identify Core Keywords

    The first step is to identify core keywords.

    Core keywords are best thought of as a group of keywords that are most relevant to your business.

    For example, for our site, since the business is “Web marketing support,” core keywords can include:

    • “Web Marketing”
    • “SEO”
    • “Listing Ads”
    • “MEO”

    If it’s a company dealing with real estate, the keywords might be:

    • “Real Estate”
    • “Rentals”
    • “Renovation”
    • “Condominiums”

    Core keywords will be the keywords you ultimately aim to rank for.

    Think about keywords that users who could be your company’s customers would actually search for.

    Points to consider when choosing core keywords

    • Select keywords with a large search volume (monthly search frequency)

    Here, choose keywords with a large granularity of concerns. This is to derive detailed keyword candidates from core keywords in the following steps.

    • Be aware of the site’s mission and theme (= What kind of site is it, solving whose problems)

    In SEO, it’s important to start information dissemination from the user’s desired information point rather than unilaterally transmitting the information you want to convey.
    On our site, the mission is to solve the concerns about “Web marketing” for “small and medium-sized business owners and web administrators.”

    Step 2: Expand Keywords

    Next, based on the core keywords selected in Step 1, expand the candidate keywords.

    For example, if “SEO” is the core keyword:

    • “SEO Internal Measures”
    • “SEO Article Count”
    • “SEO Backlinks”

    Collect all concerns related to SEO.

    Let’s expand keywords using the following two methods:

    Methods for expanding keywords

    • Method 1: Use tools
    • Method 2: Collect manually

    Since each method has its merits and demerits, we recommend using both methods after checking the table here.

    Methods for Expanding Keywords

    Method 1: Use tools


    • Efficiently collect a large number of keywords


    • SEO difficulty increases because of overlap with competing sites and targeted keywords
    Method 2: Collect manually


    • Possibility of finding low-difficulty keywords in SEO that competing sites have not addressed


    • Takes time and effort to collect keywords manually

    Method 1: Use Tools

    Using tools allows you to extract a large number of keyword candidates at once.

    Tools that can be used to extract keyword candidates include the following:

    Tools for Keyword Expansion

    Compile the collected keywords into Excel or a spreadsheet.

    Method 2: Gather Manually

    Gathering keywords manually is a time-consuming task.

    However, to find “treasure keywords” that competitors haven’t thought of, this method is effective.

    When gathering keywords manually, check the following information:

    Methods for Gathering Keywords Manually

    • Q&A sites like Reddit or Quora
    • X posts, comments, reviews on social media
    • Issues heard from your company’s customers or representatives
    • Competitor sites

    Bulletin boards contain real questions from people with concerns.

    Therefore, you should be able to see how people with actual concerns express their issues.

    From questions and answers, pick up keywords that users are likely to search for.

    In this age of information overflow, asking questions on bulletin boards implies that the problem is deep or that it is a problem that cannot be solved on other sites.

    Just like the feeling of “trying to find keywords that tools couldn’t pick up,” be sure to check keywords manually.

    Step 3: Investigate Search Volume

    The third step is to investigate search volume.

    Search volume represents how many times a keyword is searched in a month, indicating “demand.”

    Naturally, even if you can rank for keywords that users don’t search for, it won’t lead to results.

    Therefore, it is necessary to investigate “how much demand there is for a keyword” in search volume.

    Tools for Obtaining Search Volume in Bulk

    Here, we will introduce how to investigate search volume using the Keyword Planner.

    You can investigate search volume for free by registering for the Keyword Planner (limited functionality if not advertising).

    1. Select “Review volume and forecast data for searches”.

    2. Enter all keyword candidates (one search keyword per line).

    3. Search volume is displayed for each keyword, so download from “Past Plan Metrics” in the upper right of the screen.

    4. Open the downloaded file in Excel or a spreadsheet and extract only the necessary information. The necessary information is “Keyword” and “Avg. Monthly Searches”.

    You can investigate search volume in this way.

    Search volume will be necessary when narrowing down keywords in “Step 5.”

    Step 4: Group Keywords According to Search Intent

    Step 4 is grouping keywords.

    Let’s group the keywords collected so far according to search intent.

    Search intent is the “user’s concern” embedded in the search keyword.

    Search KeywordExample of Search Intent
    SEO Dwell TimeWant to know the relationship between SEO and page dwell time
    SEO CompanyWant to know about companies famous for SEO, want to choose a company
    SEO Title CreationWant to know how to create effective titles for SEO

    Specifically, do the following two things:

    What to Do in Keyword Grouping

    1. Group keywords with the same search intent into one group
    2. Apply to the 4 classifications of search queries

    Each will be explained in detail.

    1. Group Keywords with the Same Search Intent

    First, let’s group keywords with similar or identical search intents into one category.

    For instance, even if the words in phrases like “SEO cost” and “SEO fees” are different, if the intent is the same (“Want to know how much money is needed for SEO”), group them into one category.

    In SEO, it’s a principle to address one search intent with one page.

    This is because if the search intent is the same, there won’t be a significant difference in the pages displayed in the search results. Therefore, addressing the intent with one keyword is sufficient.

    This approach is not only efficient in utilizing limited time but also crucial in preventing negative impacts on rankings.

    It’s okay to exclude keywords that are not related to the theme at this stage.

    Points for Grouping

    • If you can’t imagine the search intent, try searching for it.

    By seeing “what issues the top-ranking pages are addressing,” you can understand the search intent.

    • If you can’t determine whether search intents overlap, check the search results page.

    Checking how much the pages from rank 1 to 10 align can be one indicator. If it’s more than 50%, group them under one intent.

    Checking each search result individually is challenging, so make good use of these techniques.

    2. Categorize Keywords into the 4 Types of Search Queries

    Next, according to the 4 types of search queries, let’s group keywords based on the search query (= search keyword).

    This categorization is based on four search intents.

    Some keywords may span multiple categories based on their search intent.

    By grouping keywords according to this classification, it becomes easier to imagine the user’s purchase intent and what kind of information is being sought.

    • Know Query
      Want to understand the meaning or content about a specific topic, seeking information.
      Example: “What is Content SEO,” “U.S. President,” “Population of Japan,” “Types of Web Marketing,” etc.

    • Do Query
      Want to take a specific action.
      Example: “How to make fried rice,” “Creating a writing structure,” “Easy diet,” “Self-haircut,” etc.

    • Go Query
      Want to go to a specific place (including branded searches on websites).
      Example: “Ebisu beauty salon,” “Nearby convenience store,” “Amazon,” “YouTube,” etc.

    • Buy Query
      Want to purchase a specific product or service.
      Example: “Men’s suit online shopping,” “Recommended vacuum cleaner,” “Comparison of advertising agencies,” “Mother’s Day gift”

    Once you’ve completed this, you’ll move on to Step 5 to select target keywords for your strategy.

    Step 5. Choose Keywords and Prioritize

    Now, let’s determine the priority of keywords to address from the grouped keywords.

    Since resources and costs are limited, prioritizing is essential.

    Ideal keywords to prioritize for optimization:

    • Not too small in search volume (= consistent demand)
    • Close to conversion (= likely to lead to results)
    • Not highly competitive (= easy to rank higher)
    • Leverages the company’s expertise
    • Specializes in a specific topic

    Decide “comprehensively” based on the following five criteria.

    Factors to Consider When Prioritizing

    • Size of search volume
    • Closeness to conversion
    • Level of competition
    • Value and expertise the company can provide
    • Specialization in a particular topic

    1. Search Volume

    It’s essential to strategize for keywords that users search for; otherwise, ranking high is meaningless.

    Avoid optimizing for keywords with a search volume of “0.”

    However, caution is needed even for keywords with high search volume (approx. 1000 or more).

    Keywords that are expected to bring in a lot of traffic when ranked high are intensely competitive, as competing sites are also focusing on them.

    For instance, targeting the keyword “SEO” (Search Vol. 49500) directly would be challenging due to high competition.

    It is recommended to prioritize targeting “long-tail keywords” with a search volume of 50-1000 initially.

    Example Keywords
    Head Keywords“SEO” (Search Vol. 49500)
    Middle Keywords“SEO Tools” (Search Vol. 2900)
    Long-Tail Keywords“Free SEO Tools” (Search Vol. 260)

    ※ The strategy for targeting long-tail keywords is explained in detail in the latter part of the article.

    Supplement: Predicting Traffic Using Search Volume

    When ranking high for a keyword, you can estimate the potential traffic by multiplying the “average click-through rate” and “search volume.”

    For example, if you rank first for a keyword with a search volume of 1000, multiplying it by the 28.5% average click-through rate gives “1000×0.285 = 285.”

    This means you can expect 285 visits per month.

    2. Proximity to CV (Conversion)

    Keywords can be categorized into those that are more likely to lead to “CV (conversion)” and those that are not.

    Prioritize optimizing for keywords that are more likely to lead to CV.

    In SEO, the goal is to attract visitors with the intention of achieving conversions such as inquiries, contacts, or purchases of products and services.

    For example, the keyword “SEO company comparison” is likely to lead to CV as users are already searching with the intention of comparing and considering SEO companies.

    Checking the following points helps determine proximity to CV:

    • Relevance to your company’s products or services
    • User’s intent to take action
    • Depth of the user’s problem

    Queries following the 4 classifications of search queries, such as Buy Queries, Go Queries, and Do Queries, often fall into this category.

    However, keywords close to CV often have high competition.

    Therefore, strategize separately for pages targeting CV (pages you want to rank in the long term) and pages for ranking purposes (pages that can be ranked in the short term).

    3. Level of Competition

    Targeting keywords with low competition increases the likelihood of ranking high.

    This is because SEO is a relative evaluation.

    No matter how good your content is, if there are many competitors or if competitors are strong, you may not be able to rank high.

    On the contrary, keywords with low competition have a higher chance of ranking high.

    The difficulty of ranking high (competition) can be judged based on the following points:

    Points to Consider When Judging Competition

    • Search Volume

    Keywords with a large search volume tend to have high competition.

    • High Profitability

    Keywords with high profitability tend to have high competition.

    • Strength of Competing Sites

    If the pages ranking high are from sites with a strong presence in the industry, sites focusing on SEO, or sites with high-quality content, competition is considered high.

    4. Value and Expertise Offered by Your Company

    Consider whether the keywords align with your company’s strengths and expertise when deciding priorities.

    If you can provide unique information not found on other sites, both users and Google are likely to find it valuable, increasing the potential for high rankings.

    In fact, Google states the following:

    High-quality sites with original and useful content are ranked higher

    Source:Google Webmaster Central Blog [JA]: Towards Better Japanese Search Quality

    In recent SEO, the evaluation emphasis on “E-A-T” has increased.

    E-A-T is a concept comprising Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

    Pages written by experts or authoritative figures in the field receive better evaluations.

    5. Specialization in a Topic

    If you want to expedite the process of ranking high, you should be conscious of “creating a state specialized in a specific topic” sooner.

    This makes it more likely for Google to consider your site as having high comprehensiveness and expertise in information.

    For example,

    • “SEO Backlink Effect”
    • “SEO Increase Backlinks”
    • “SEO Backlink Tools”

    Focusing intensively on pages related to “SEO backlinks” with just three articles can establish high expertise in the topic of “SEO backlinks.”

    On the other hand,

    • “SEO Backlink Effect”
    • “Types of Web Ads”
    • “Tips for SNS Operation”

    Strategizing in this order would dilute the specialization.

    To achieve results quickly and efficiently within limited time and resources, it’s effective to establish a specific genre that outshines the competition.

    When deciding the order of keyword strategies, consider “comprehensive” judgment based on the five points introduced so far.

    For those aiming to rank high, the next chapter is also essential, discussing the “strategies” to consider when choosing keywords.

    Keyword Strategy for High Rankings

    Achieving high rankings for targeted keywords requires effective keyword planning.

    When choosing keywords, keep the following four points in mind:

    Keyword Strategy for High Rankings

    • Start by targeting long-tail keywords
    • Ensure one page corresponds to one search intent
    • Consider internal link structure
    • Review keywords as needed

    1. Start by Targeting Long-Tail Keywords

    In the early stages of SEO, actively target long-tail keywords.

    Long-tail keywords have relatively low search volume and consist of 3 to 4 words.

    Long-tail keywords offer several benefits, such as:

    • Easier to rank high
    • Likely to lead to conversions
    • Easier to create content that captures search intent
    • Stable for attracting visitors
    • Likely to be clicked on
    • Contributes to high rankings for big and middle keywords

    However, some may wish to quickly rank high for “big keywords” or “middle keywords” to gain many visits. While it’s essential to target them in the long term, understanding that immediate high rankings for “big keywords” or “middle keywords” can be challenging is crucial.

    This is because high rankings for “big keywords” or “middle keywords” can be influenced by the overall site evaluation and category-level evaluations.

    Unlike “long-tail keywords,” focusing on “big keywords” or “middle keywords” often requires more than just quality content.

    Start with long-tail keywords and gradually target middle and big keywords.

    2. Ensure One Page Corresponds to One Search Intent

    Creating multiple pages for one search intent is not favorable in terms of both SEO and efficiency.

    For example,

    • “SEO”
    • “What is SEO”
    • “SEO strategies”

    These three keywords share a common search intent: wanting to know what SEO is. Thus, there’s no need to address them on separate pages.

    Having multiple pages for the same search intent risks “keyword cannibalization,” where your pages compete for rankings with the same target keywords.

    If keyword cannibalization occurs, page evaluations may be dispersed, negatively impacting search rankings.

    However, it’s also not recommended to optimize one page for keywords with different search intents, such as “SEO internal links” and “SEO backlinks,” as this can lead to a lack of focus due to differing user concerns.

    Be conscious of one page corresponding to one search intent when selecting keywords and creating content.

    3. Consider Internal Link Structure

    When selecting keywords, also envision the internal link structure of your site.

    Internal links refer to links that connect pages within your site.

    In SEO, the design of these internal links is crucial.

    Google considers pages with many internal links to be more important. Additionally, linking “related pages” with internal links can convey high topic relevance (comprehensiveness) to Google.

    If you aim to achieve high rankings for “middle keywords” or “big keywords” in the future, it’s effective to gather links from pages addressing “long-tail keywords,” as shown below.

    However, linking to entirely unrelated pages can be counterproductive.

    Only place internal links when it makes sense in terms of “related pages” and “information necessary for users.”

    4. Review Keywords as Needed

    Don’t consider the selected target keywords as final; continue to:

    • Discover “hidden gem keywords”
    • Optimize target keywords

    During content creation, you may discover valuable keywords. Additionally, pages may rank high for keywords different from the ones targeted, leading to increased visits. In such cases, consider optimizing and rewriting the page for the more frequently used keywords.

    To find out which keywords users are using to access your page, check Google Search Console, a webmaster tool provided by Google.

    【Conclusion】Success in SEO Depends on Keywords! Let’s Strategically Select Keywords and Create Content

    Keyword selection is one of the most critical tasks in SEO.

    While it may be a time-consuming process, use the information provided here to choose target keywords strategically.

    However, keyword selection is just the starting point of SEO. Subsequently, you need to focus on creating high-quality content.

    If you have any concerns about keyword selection or content creation, feel free to contact our company, ExScore.