How to choose a keyword for backlinks

Even after all the changes and updates, over the past years, keywords are still an important part of SEO. If you properly combine them with your link building strategy, they can greatly help increase rank and traffic. To increase the chance of success, you need to carefully research and implement only the valuable keywords. One one side, the process where you choose a keyword for backlinks is not easy, because it requires a lot of time and effort. On the other side, understanding it, and learning how to do it, is worth the effort.

The process of choosing a keyword for backlinks

More than a few times, Google has been changing the way some SEO aspects function. With Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin updates, for example, they try to increase the quality of content and search results. They also try to battle against black hat techniques and provide a better user experience. In a way, this is affecting keywords and backlinks. However, Google still significantly relies on keywords, just a bit differently. Now, you can’t just stuff pages and articles with backlinks who use simple keywords, like you once could. It’s a bit more sophisticated today, and you need to do serious research first. That’s why we’ll discuss how to choose a keyword for backlinks today.

1. Make a list of keywords

You can start by making a large list of keywords that are relevant to your niche. But, it has to be done from the perspective of your target audience. Think about what would people type in search queries when they look for certain services or products. Then expand that thought with reasons for searching and more. In essence, there are two major options here:

  • First, you have “head” keywords which are simple phrases like “IT services” or “pet food”.
  • Second, there are “long-tail” keywords that are extended versions of simple phrases. Like, “best IT services in NJ” or “the healthiest pet food for dogs”

For a serious long-term strategy when you want to reach top ranking, head keywords are better. However, for a faster ranking, long-tail keywords are more appropriate. The thing is, long-tail keywords have lower competition, but they also have a lower search volume. For the best result, your backlink anchor strategy should include both types. For the purpose of creating a list, Excel or similar spreadsheet program is good enough.

Board list and a pencil.
You will need a large list of phrases and various combinations of relevant words.

Discovering and expanding your keyword list

We already mention that you will need to discover new keywords from the perspective of online users. For that, SEMrush is a good tool to find the optimal keywords users are already using. Another way is to search for forums and blogs your audience is visiting and see popular topics. Any place where you can get valuable information for keywords is a good source of creative inspiration.

Google’s autocompleting feature is also good for finding both head and long-tail keywords. You can use it manually or you can use tools like for this. From other useful tools, there is Ahref Keyword Explorer. Basically, you enter a basic keyword or relevant phrase and it generates suggestions.

Finally, a good way to choose a good keyword for your backlinks is to see what your competition is doing. There are useful tools to discover what phrases your competitors are using in their backlinks and websites. It will eventually give you an insight into how you can expand your keyword list.

2. Choose the right SEO tools for the job

Now that you have a big enough list of keywords for backlinks, you should save it. In most cases, the .csv (Comma-separated values) format is a good choice so you can later import it to various tools. As for the tools, there are numerous good choices:

  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • Ubersuggest
  • Google Search Console
  • Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Keywords Everywhere
  • Google Trends
  • SEMrush
  • KWFinder

Sort out your results

Depending on the tools, your keywords can be sorted out in different ways. Pay close attention to your priorities here. For each keyword on the list, there are three factors you should be worrying about:

  1. Relevance – this is more of a subjective value that shows if the keyword is relevant to the subject of interest. Tools will, normally, show certain values, but it doesn’t have to be the right measure. Often time, you should rely on your common sense and intuition.
  2. Volume – this is a search volume for each keyword on the list. Simply put, it shows how often users are looking for such a term in a certain period of time. It’s usually a useful way to discover current trends and the popularity of words in a month.
  3. Competition – shows how your competition is ranking for each keyword on the list.

3. Analyze all the suggestions

Now, that you have the entire list, it’s time to analyze it. You need to check which of those keywords can be used in the most appropriate way for your backlinks. In other words, which choice is the best for good results. First, pick those with low competitive rates. To rank better for high-competition words, you will need a significant budget and a tremendous amount of effort. Next, analyze the current trends in your niche. If a certain keyword is showing a rise in popularity, it might be a good opportunity to use it. Google Trends, for example, is of great help here. Also, you should eliminate all the one-word keywords. After all, people rarely query a search using only one word. Overall, this is where long-tail keywords in backlinks show usage the best.

Notes with the “option” word whirling on a pile.
It can be a huge job to analyze all the options.

4. Choose a keyword for backlinks

After your analysis, you will be down to potentially the best choices of keywords. Now you need to pick the winners. In general, the ideal keyword has high relevance, large volume, and low competition. But the ideal keyword is a rare animal. So, you need to work with what you have and make some choices. Depending on your SEO campaign plans, it would be smart not to rush things. Start with a smaller amount of backlinks and grind your way to the top. Generally, you don’t want to use all your keywords at once. If you need to correct your strategy on the go, it would be better not to waste too many keywords. Also, for large scale businesses, it can be an enormous job. So, it’s better to hire a professional team that can handle the amount of included work.

A professional SEO team in the office.
For a serious and large campaign, you need a competent team of professionals.

Finally, choose a keyword for backlinks carefully and implement it naturally. By all means, this is today one of the most important SEO aspects. If a certain phrase looks too artificial to use, try to be creative, and modify it. Given all the efforts from Google, it’s better to adjust than to sacrifice readability in your content.

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