Countless companies live and die based on their ability to show up highly in on search engine results pages (SERP) for a variety of terms. If you don’t have a lot of money to throw around, getting organic (unpaid) search traffic is one of the best ways to ramp up a business. But where to start? Competing for terms that don’t convert to sales, have no traffic, and/or are too competitive is a sure fire way to fail.

Criterion for winning keywords

Keyword Intent

Choosing the right keyword requires you to get inside the mind of the searcher. Part of the reason why Google has made so much money over the years is that when people search, they are looking for a solution, or something new, and this expansive mindset is very often associated with buying. Some keywords have the right mindset towards purchasing, such as product reviews, and mindset directly relates to how valuable a visitor is.

Let’s pretend that you want to help do SEO research for your friend’s cupcake recipe website. We’ll start in the Google keyword tool. In the screenshot below, I’ve entered “cupcake”, with Exact as the Match Type, to see how many people are actually searching for the terms. Notice that for exact match, even the difference of a single letter means a different search term to optimize for.


Out of this list, the search term most likely worth the most money is cupcake stand, since it’s a more expensive item, and people searching are in a buying mood. Looking at the top search terms we can get an idea of what searchers are thinking. Clearly, most people online are looking for recipes, with a smaller segment looking for supplies. In the case of our friend’s business, they’ll be hoping that by creating a valuable experience, visitors will be more likely to make purchases on their site.


Here’s my equation for the value of a search term:

Search Term Value = Traffic X Intent

Everything else is how well a site capitalizes once a person visits. This is part of the reason why popular search terms are usually more competitive, and why the long tail and local is increasingly the way to go for newer sites.


At this point, we’ve discussed what makes for valuable keywords. Tune in for part 2, where we’ll talk about keyword competitiveness, and finding keyword candidates. I hope that this will help provide you with laser focus for your SEO efforts, which will then lead to real profits.