A "Customer-First" Approach to SEO Keywords

When we develop a keyword strategy for any of our clients, we take a customer-first approach. Before we can dive deep into your SEO services package, we must first conduct keyword research to determine the relevant keywords we should be helping you rank for. These are ultimately the list of words and phrases your customers will be typing into the search engine to find you. We use research criteria based on your niche, target market, competition, and keyword search volume.

This is a part of the process many people get lost in, simply because there are mounds of data to wade through. But at the end of the day, we have to remember one thing: the customer always comes first.

If you focus solely on the keywords you think are relevant to your business, your SEO strategy is setup for failure from the beginning. The customer-first approach is the only way you’re going to see a real ROI on your SEO services.

Who Are Your Customers?

Think about who your customers really are. Take the time to develop buyer personas, also known as customer avatars, for each segment of your target market. These will give you a clearer picture of who your ideal customers are – to make it easier to conduct keyword research and develop website copy, content marketing assets, and so forth. Buyer personas can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be, based on your products or services. Get started by asking questions like:

  • Am I targeting an audience of both males and females? All females? All males?
  • How old is my ideal customer? What’s an acceptable age range?
  • Where do my customers live? Does this affect how they use my product/service?
  • Where do my customers work? Job title? Years of experience? Are they ready to leave their job and transition to a new field?
  • Is my customer single, married, divorced, partnered?
  • How much money does my customer earn in a year?
  • What language(s) does my customer speak? Are they interested in learning a new language?
  • What are their hobbies and interests?
  • How familiar are they with technology? Do they love it? Hate it?
  • What’s their education level? Are they interested in returning to school?
  • What are their religious beliefs? Objections?
  • What are their common problems and challenges?
  • What motivates them to buy the products/services I offer?
  • What concerns do they have about buying the products and services I offer?
  • What are their favorite websites and blogs?
  • Where do they spend most of their time on social media?

What Are They Looking For?

Once you have a clear idea of who your prospect is, put yourself in their shoes. With their pain points and challenges in mind, take it a step further and brainstorm the kinds of questions they’ll ask when they’re looking for what you offer. This helps you find the keywords that offer solutions, which brings more qualified leads, which increases the chance of making the sale.

Brainstorming this list of questions helps you come up with ideas for content that can help you rank for the various keywords – while also addressing the common questions and objections your prospects may have. Plus, you can search and see what kind of content is out there from your competition, to find ways to make yours more thorough and complete.

Why Are They Searching?

User Intent makes all the difference in the success your website. If you’re ranking for a vague keyword like red shoes that’s one thing, but if you’re ranking for red shoe store in Colorado then you’ve got user intent – the reason behind their searching.

User intent generally falls into one of three categories:

  • Transactional: A person wants to make a purchase. Where to buy red shoes
  • Navigational: A person is looking for a specific resource, site, or page. Red shoe store in Colorado
  • Informational: A person wants more information about a subject, or answers to their questions. Red shoe

The ideal keyword strategy will have a mix of these keywords, as you’ll have people who are looking to buy at the same time as you’ll have people who want more information about the products or services you offer. When we pull your keyword list, we’ll let you know which keywords fall into which category of user intent, so you can craft content that matches.

When you know what they intend to do with the search you know how to tailor your content and messaging on your website. If you speak to their initial intent, you have a great chance of converting them to a paying customer. But, if you rank for a transactional keyword and send your users to informational content, you’re disregarding intent – which leads to unhappy searchers.

Where Are They Coming From?

Keywords aren’t confined to the initial on-site SEO optimization. You’ll use them throughout your monthly SEO strategy in a variety of ways, including:

  • Social media updates.
  • Weekly blog posts.
  • Guest blog posts on industry sites.
  • Link building activities.

Knowing where they come from will help you prepare to monitor these keywords in a variety of ways.

If they come to you from social media – it’s important to know which post they’re coming from. If they’re coming from an offer you posted on your page, then they may be ready to buy. But if they’re coming to a blog post, they may just want more information.


Everything you do on your website and as part of your SEO and online marketing strategy must consider your customer first. They are who you want to connect with, and who you want to keep happy. If you take any action without considering how it will impact them, you could be making a huge mistake that affects your profit margin. That’s why part of our customer first approach means focusing on who your business’s customers are.

Do you understand your customer on this kind of level? Could you benefit from a deeper SEO strategy? If so, contact us today! We’d love to discuss how we can turn your website into a revenue machine.

What is SEO? (Part 2)

When I was a kid, the magic words were always “Please” and “Thank You.” The magic words today? Well, they’re different for every client. Of course, I’m talking about keywords. In an SEO professional’s toolbox, keyword usage is perhaps the most powerful optimization tool of them all. In this blog, I’ll be giving a brief explanation of the importance of keywords in relation to SEO, and how best to use them to enhance your website’s search rankings.

A keyword is a term or phrase that people enter into search engines to find specific information. Most people enter search phrases between two and five words. Such phrases may also be called search phrases, keyword phrases, query phrases, or just keywords. We call them keywords at Firestarter. The search engine then comes back with a list of web pages that have content relevant to the keyword searched for. The purpose of SEO is to ensure that when customers search for keywords related to your business, your website appears at the top of the search results.


Good keyword phrases are specific and descriptive. If you owned a beauty salon, the words “salon” or “hair stylist” would be poor choices, as they are too broad and the competition for them is extremely high. Success for very popular one-word keywords is very difficult. It’s best to focus on less competitive, highly specific keywords that still drive a lot of traffic. For example, “Salon Denver” or “Hair Stylist Denver” or maybe even more specific like “professional colorists Denver” or “blow dry styling Denver”. These keywords are more customized and location based and would produce better results.

Also, remember to choose keywords that are highly relevant to the content of your website. You don’t want to pick random keywords and lead your visitor to a dead end. Give them the content they are really looking for. Once you’ve come up with a list of a few potential keyword phrases, run them past the Google keyword suggestion tool. This tool comes up with a list of related keywords that you can use and shows you the competition level, the estimated global search traffic and the estimated local search traffic. Remember, stick to only optimizing five to ten keywords total. Trying to cover too many is counter-productive.


Once you’ve determined the best target keywords, be sure to use them in the right quantity. Inserting your keywords all throughout your content with no rhyme or reason will actually decrease your website’s quality and rankings, not help it. Also be warned: Your web pages may be penalized by search engines if they think you’re trying to cheat the system. That frowned-upon practice is called ‘keyword stuffing.’ The recommended density is 3-7% for the major keywords and 1-2% for minor keywords. Going back to developing keywords, that’s why it makes sense to only focus on a handful of keywords. Choosing too many will make your content seem artificial and stuffed.


Where your keywords are placed within your website is also important. Be sure to use your keywords in the page title, the headings, and the first few paragraphs. These places are much more effective than using them at the very bottom of the page. Placing keywords in the URL, domain name, file names, page title, and title headings as well as in the body of the text will boost your rankings.

So, there you go. Some quick, in-a-nutshell, information about keywords. Of course, if it were all really that simple, I’d be out of a job. But I can’t give away all of my secrets! However, if you have any additional questions about keywords or keyword usage, feel free to drop us a note here. Or check out our keyword research services.