May 29, 2023

SEO Keyword Selection Advice

In her latest High Rankings Newsletter, Jill Whalen tackles the following question:

We would like to optimise for the conditions she treats such as back pain,
insomnia, headaches, etc – about 40 different in all. What is the best way
to present this to a search engine without having to write “acupuncture for
colds and flu” or some such other boring list which no real person would
want to plough through?

Her advice is simple:

I would create a “symptoms” or “conditions” main category page. Then list
each of the various conditions, with a few sentences describing that
condition. From each of those, you would place a link to go to a specific
page with more information about that symptom and how it can be treated
through acupuncture

This is good advice, but it’s not as good as it can be. She should have discussed usefulness and whether or not these keywords relate. (see one of my previous articles on usefulness.) Let me explain:

This approach certainly makes the website more useful to a visitor which is a huge key of SEO, but does it make the website useful in terms of the query? Let’s have a look:

The term the client is after here is “Back Pain,” but I think that’s way too broad. A quick look at the first 10 results in Google shows that most of these results have a common theme: Causes of back pain.

You may also notice the Google “onebox” here, which offers you to refine your search. Some of the options are “treatment”, “sytmptoms” , “tests”, etc. The very existence of the onebox and “refine your search” seem to support my theory that this is a very broad term.

Since the search was for the broad term, a site that only deals with treatment of back pain probably wouldn’t be viewed as useful as a site that deals with all aspects of back pain.

While Jill’s approach is a step in the right direction, I would advice her client to re-think his chosen keywords. A quick visit to Overture shows that some better terms for the accupuncture clinic to focus on would be “back pain relief”, “back pain treatment”, or even “back pain excercise” depending upon what services they offer.

While these terms get less overall searches than “back pain”, they are terms that the site should be a useful result for. Not only that, but they’ll probably deliver visitors who are more likely to come in for a consultation anyway.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: