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How to Target the Right Keywords for Your Company

How to Target the Right Keywords for Your Company

Tony Patrick, Director of SEO and Analytics, Content & PR Division • Intero Digital • August 26, 2023

A magnifying glass lays atop a white keyboard.

Marketers often find themselves in a curious situation: They can see that a particular keyword has a high monthly search volume and a relatively low keyword difficulty. This match should provide a great SEO content opportunity for a company, yet leaders or subject matter experts just don’t want to use that word.

Why does this happen?

While your marketing team most likely has foundational SEO knowledge and probably knows how to find keywords and how to do keyword research, the rest of your organization might not have an understanding of the value that keywords bring to your company’s content and brand visibility.

It’s not uncommon for company leaders to have ingrained ideas about brand language that don’t take SEO into account. They’ve likely developed a whole glossary of terms to describe the brand, and they naturally want to choose keyword phrases they like — ones they feel already define their brand.

So what’s the problem?

These preferred branded keywords or leader-coined terms often have low search volume, meaning they will have little to no impact on a brand’s goals for digital content. When companies take this approach, they risk missing out on the results they could glean from targeting more competitive, highly searched keywords in addition to their branded keywords.

The Value of Keywords

The thing about keywords is that they are neither negative nor positive.

Some keywords are simply searched more or less than others.

So the question of how to choose the right keywords is not about finding the most colorful, unique, or suitable brand language; it’s about finding words and phrases that people are actually using to search for the things they want to find related to your services.

It’s completely understandable for companies to want to surround their brand with only specific, carefully selected language that speaks to the company’s values, mission, culture, and story. But oftentimes, the company’s target audience is using different keywords in their search for help with their pain points. And that’s a huge missed opportunity for the company to meet their target audience members where they are and convert them into customers.

This is why brands need to target keywords that are already being searched, even if they want to build visibility for specific branded keywords. This will allow them to generate results from their content in the shorter term while also building up search visibility for branded or leader-coined phrases over the long haul.

You can’t change the narrative if you’re not a part of it in the first place. To bring people into your branded world and start a conversation with them on your terms, you have to meet them on their terms first.


You can't change the narrative if you're not a part of it in the first place.

— Erica Garman, VP of Marketing • Intero Digital

How to Choose the Right Keywords for Your Brand

So how can you balance branded keywords and preferred language with more competitive search terms?

There are several keyword scenarios that require different strategies. Let’s lay out a few of the most common ones.

Scenario 1: You haven’t yet identified any keyword opportunities.

You need to learn how to do keyword research before you can identify the right keywords for your brand. The first stage of this research might be to have subject matter experts or sales team members come up with a list of terms that already work well for them in presentations and pitches.

From this list, you can figure out whether these keywords will work with a digital audience. Do they land better when shared in a spoken, conversational context? If so, they might not be great keywords to target in your digital content. If you showed the terms to a room full of members of your target audience, would they instantly recognize and understand them without needing an explainer? These could be great search terms to target.

The next step is to conduct further research to see which highly searched or more general keywords you could use in your content alongside branded terms. Once you have a list of general and branded keywords that you want to use in your content, try searching for them using incognito mode on your browser. What shows up? Is this corner of the internet a place you want to be? Do the top search results reflect the type of content you’re hoping to create, and do they address your target audience members and their wants and needs? This will allow you to validate your findings and make sure you’re on the right track.

Scenario 2: Your brand or industry has changed.

If your brand needs have changed, you might need a strategy to phase out outdated and unwanted keywords on your site.

Let’s say a brand has undergone a rebranding or renaming. The audience already knows one version of the brand story and will continue to associate that brand with the terms they’re familiar with. A good SEO strategy in this case is to take a gentle but multifaceted approach — a combination of outreach, new content, marketing, repetition, and personal conversations.

The key is to invite your audience along for the changes. Instead of rearranging the furniture overnight and just expecting them to sit in the right place, make changes gradually. Replace one or two keywords with the updated phrases at a time so you don’t leave your existing audience out of the new conversation. If warranted, consider creating content that explicitly calls out a brand/term change and use that as an opportunity to educate your audience on the change while infusing both old and new keywords into the content.

Scenario 3: You’ve identified keywords but don’t know how to use them.

So you have a set of terms, some of which come from your brand’s existing language and others that are new to your strategy. It’s time to start integrating the new keywords into your content in order to educate your audience and invite them to join the conversation with you.

A good strategy is to use your preferred terms alongside those new non-branded keywords with high search volume. Hit many touchpoints over an extended period of time — across social posts, blog posts, guest-contributed articles, and infographics — to help the new story sink in. And don’t shy away from using multiple terms in your content. Tandem phrases help audiences get used to new phrases and connect highly searched keywords with your brand identity.

A few weeks after publishing, review your on-site content and website pages to see whether they’re ranking for your new target keywords. If you’re not seeing that your content ranks for your target keywords or if it’s ranking for the wrong keywords, review these pages with fresh eyes to see what on-page updates you could make to ensure your content is properly conveying your intended message.

SEO is a long-term strategy, and keywords will continue to evolve alongside industry changes, your audience’s education and experience level, your own brand updates, and more. The question of how to choose the right keywords for SEO is not a one-and-done job. You will keep discovering new terms that your audience relates to, and you can incorporate them — alongside your favorite keywords — as you continue to grow.

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