How many keywords should you target?

There’s lots to think about when optimising your site for search engine success. We’ve previously looked at how to choose the best keywords, but you’ll also need to think about the number of keywords you should target.

The right number of keywords for your site will depend upon a number of factors – the competitive situation, in particular. This information will allow you to understand how much effort and budget you’re going to have to put behind securing a positive ranking on Google and other search engines. You may need to go for long-tail keywords, at least in the beginning, particularly if you’re a new entrant in a competitive marketplace.

In our experience, the sweet spot for most SMEs which are starting on their SEO journey seems to be 5 – 10 keywords with monthly search volumes of 100+ although e-commerce customers may need to target 5 – 10 keywords per product category. Targeting fewer means that you’re putting all your eggs in one basket – if you can’t beat the competition on that keyword, or if it’s going to take a long time to get a top ranking, you’re going to find it hard to attract enough visitors to your site.

Conversely, targeting too many keywords means your efforts are thinly spread. You could find it difficult to set aside the time and budget required to create the content and links which will help you to rank for a long list of keywords.

Although your shortlist of target keywords may seem relatively small, don’t worry.  Your site will still rank if the keywords are used by the searcher in a different order and if they enter what are known as ‘stop’ words such as ‘and’ or ‘when’. For example, if you optimise your site for ‘’dairy allergy” you should still appear when someone searches for “allergy to dairy”.

When optimising your site for your chosen keyword you should create a good quality, content rich page which answers your reader’s biggest questions. That will normally allow you to rank for lots of long-tail keywords which you’ll find appear in your content without you having to think too hard about them. For example, if you write about how to prepare a meal for someone with a dairy allergy your site will probably rank in Google for that phrase as well as your target phrase. It’s thought that 40% of online searches involve phrases of 4 or more words, so these long-tail phrases can be very important to attracting new visitors to your site. Plus, these more specific searches tend to have better sales conversion rates because the people using them are more informed about what they’re looking for.

As well as using your keywords in your on-page content, you’ll need to ensure they’re reflected in the title tags and complimented by your meta descriptions.  There’s a lot to think about!

Once you start getting traction for your target keywords you can begin to expand the number of keywords you try to rank for. But our advice is to start in a relatively small and focused way, monitor your results using Google Analytics and Search Console and build on your success.

If you need a marketing agency in Cheshire or Cambridge to help with your online marketing and SEO, please do not hesitate to get in touch.