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A Comprehensive Guide to Focus Keywords And How They Work

  • Grace Lau
  • 6 min read
A Comprehensive Guide to Focus Keywords And How They Work


If you're looking at improving SEO for your business, it's hard to know where to start. The field is ever-evolving due to big-picture changes in the way people spend time on the internet and due to the whims of Google. The factors Google ranks you on are ever-changing, so marketers have to work to keep up.

53% of search traffic coming from organic traffic (Image source)

But getting a handle on SEO is essential if you're going to get in front of the people who need your product most. People search for your solution to their problems every day, and they're not finding it. With 53% of search traffic coming from organic traffic (from your content showing up in searches naturally), content built around Focus Keywords is essential for success.

Trying to come up with relevant content for these audiences without a clear SEO strategy could lead to a marketing operation that wastes time on content nobody reads and contribute to poor ROI ecommerce numbers across the board.

If you only learn one thing about SEO today, it should be about Focus Keywords. If your SEO strategy was Focus Keywords and nothing else, you weren't doing too badly. They're a good foundation from which you can see results in the short term and learn as you build out the rest of a high-performing SEO effort.

What Is a Focus Keyword?

Like most marketing strategies, SEO is about focussing as much as possible and selling to only your target niche. If you're selling B2B phone solutions, you could be selling to just about anyone. "B2B phone solutions" isn't very niche, so it's not a good keyword to target.

"Small business phone solution" is getting better. You might think that sounds less profitable, but this keyword lets you market yourself more effectively to a budget-conscious customer or one who needs something with a low commitment that can scale with them.

But "VoIP services for small businesses" would be a much better keyword. Because it's so specific, it's a sign of a high-intent customer who knows just what they want. That'll translate into a search leading to a click-through, which is more likely to turn into a sale.

Because of the incredible amount of data they process every second, Google has become a world leader in deep learning AI. As far back as 2013, AI matched searches to "natural language" phrases that you'd say in conversation or write on your blog.

What Is a Focus Keyword? (Image source)

So, if your customers are searching for CSAT meaning, your blog titled "the meaning of CSAT" will show up just fine, as long as it meets Google's requirements for quality content.

That includes other factors like your site's speed, the UX across different devices, and how many other sites link to your content.

How to Choose Your Focus Keywords

Choosing the best Focus Keywords is a multi-step process. It'll take some time, but by the end, you should have plenty of ideas for your content calendar and a solid foundation on which to build your strategy.


While there are countless full-service products out there promising to do it all for you, there are some reliable little tools to help you get started with Focus Keywords.

Google Trends is beneficial as it gives you a view of trends over several months or even years, not just a ranking of the keywords popular right now. While it's not detailed enough to give you Focus Keywords, it's a quick and free tool to help you compare some trends in relevant searches over time.


Ranktracker allows you to rank Focus Keywords, analyse the competition, and track your search engine ranking on one platform. Ranktracker harnesses world-class data sources to help you get ahead in SEO, whether it's a small startup or a large agency.

Keyword Sheeter

When it comes to finding keywords related to the ones you're focusing on, Keyword Sheeter is handy. It gets you a massive sheet of keywords related to the one you put in, and it's completely free. A paid plan gets you added data like the keyword traffic and the cost-per-click if you were to run paid ads on each term.


There's more to SEO than Google. As we'll cover later, sites like Amazon and Instagram are also good data sources for your SEO efforts. Keywordtool.io includes those sources in its search for related keywords, giving you a broader picture of what is relevant to your audience.

KeywordTool.io (Image source)

Keyword Research

Now you're ready to start researching your Focus Keywords, let's cover the process step by step.

List topics you want to cover

These should be topics you and your colleagues could talk about for hours, but they should also be related to the problems your business solves for customers.

If you're selling coffee grinders, you're covering brewing methods and ways to get café-quality coffee at home. If it’s business process automation tools, you have countless ways to talk about streamlining the way businesses work and helping teams work together more efficiently.

Identify words and phrases

Search for terms that fall under your chosen area of expertise. If your topic was mobile app development, you might break that down into keyword-focussed sub-topics like software testing or how to get more app reviews.

The idea is to build out enough small ideas to fill out the content calendar. These topics will be relevant to your company and your audience, and they'll be subjects you can write about with expertise. This aligns your content calendar with what your audience is searching for—no wonder 38% of marketers’ new content ideas start with keywords.

Identify words and phrases (Image source)

Ranking difficulty/search volume

When most people don't scroll past the first few search results, every page of Google search results is a winner-take-all battle for the top spot. While big companies can plough millions into getting the top spot of the online store page, you can only get to the #1 spot by choosing your Focus Keywords carefully.

The difficulty of ranking on a search term links to how many searches it gets per month. That's another reason you want to target the most niche, specific keywords possible. Maybe your specific keyword only gains a few hundred searches a month globally. But if you win in enough keywords of that size, you'll see hundreds of converted leads per month.

Most relevant keywords

Once you have a spreadsheet of keyword ideas and their difficulty, narrow them down to the most achievable and relevant targets.

It's more of an art than a science. Your Focus Keywords should have some traffic and should align with your company's values and the problem your customers are trying to solve. Your competitors might pay for better SEO tooling and data analytics than you have, but you should make sure nobody in the world knows your audience better than you do.

For instance, if your blog is about the must-have feature of a web based quoting software, you want to sprinkle in keywords around that.

If you look at the bottom of page one of Google, you'll find search terms related to the one you've put in. If you're hesitant to shell out on SEO tools, this is a free way to discover keywords related to your topic. Enter those keywords in Google to get more suggestions branching out from that and repeat as necessary.

While every piece should have one primary keyword, there's nothing wrong with layering in some of those related keywords into the body text.

Google analyzes the keywords and links in your text to position each page within a web of related searches. When Google doesn't have the exact answer for a search, it reaches for the next best thing. Spreading your bets across a range of related keywords puts you in a better position to show up in searches you're not even targeting.

Related keywords (Image source)

Check the content of pages

Look at the kind of content Google shows for this keyword. Are the results deep-dive blogs or snappy how-to videos? If you read and watch some of the pieces you're competing with, you might find specific words, phrases, or ideas come up again and again.

This competitor analysis might bring up selling points you should be shouting about for your product. If you're offering call centre training, you might find your competitors bringing up the same KPIs or certifications you've neglected. They're bringing those items up for one of two reasons. Either it's something that keeps coming up in sales calls, or it's a related keyword.

Check out forums/social media

In the Google-centric SEO game, social media can be an underrated source of audience insights. Many tools will let you scrape vast amounts of data for a fee, but just hanging out in the right hashtag or community will show you people's interests.

This method won't offer you much data on what to make your Focus Keywords, but if you look for posts from your target audience related to your topics, you'll find many relevant ideas to fill up the content calendar.

The Goal of Focus Keywords

We've covered a step-by-step process for finding your Focus Keywords, and none of it involved complex data science or expensive tools. If you're newly starting, don't try to beat the big players at their own game. In SEO, you only need to be the big fish in your customer's small pond.

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Grace Lau

Grace Lau

is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content.

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