A Guide to Keywords, Part 1: Finding the Right Keywords

hawthorn creative hospitality marketing a guide to keywords part 1 finding the right keywords feature

Whether you’re writing pages for your hotel website or building content for a destination marketing blog, developing the right keywords is an essential part of the process to make sure you get the most SEO juice you can out of your work. Disregard them and you may be found, but you may also be silently yelling into the giant black hole of the Internet. No one wants to get hoarse doing that.

We can’t stress that enough: Instead of trying to stuff keywords into a post or page after the fact, define them ahead of time to inform the direction you’ll take. Not only will it ensure you’re targeting the most SEO-friendly terms, but it’ll also keep your post from sounding clunky and robotic because you forced “Florida Gulf beach resort” into four polished paragraphs. In this first installment in our two-part guide, we give you all the tools, tips, and steps to take to build the right keywords before you start writing.

Tools for Generating Keywords

Google Keyword Planner

Built into Google AdWords, this keyword tool is free and excels at researching keywords being used in paid advertisements. The drawback is that the data for “competition” is based off paid Google Adwords, not organic search.


While many use it to research competitors’ websites and how they stack up, its Keyword Analytics tools provide some of the most detailed and customizable keyword products and reports for content marketers. Plans start at $100 a month.

Moz Keyword Explorer

Similar to SEMRush, although because it uses different algorithms, it can sometimes bring back more results if you’re struggling to get data for low-traffic keywords in SEMRush. You have a maximum daily limit for free searches; beyond that, $99 a month for a Moz Pro plan.


Believe it or not, this social network is a great tool for finding keywords related to your primary terms. Here’s a post that details how to harness the Pinning platform for keyword research.

Additional Sources to Creatively Define Keywords and Content Ideas

If you’re stumped on coming up with content ideas that use keywords you found through the above sites, check out this post detailing some of Hawthorn’s favorite tips and tricks.

Understanding Keywords Data and Terms

Searches/Search Volume/Traffic

The average number of times users searched for your keyword in a given month, often calculated using the past 12 months of data. Some platforms, like Google Keyword Planner, don’t show any results if the numbers are below a certain threshold.

Keyword Difficulty/Competition

An estimate of how hard it would be to organically rank on the first search result page for any given term, often quantified as a percentage (1 to 100 percent) or term, like Low/Medium/Hard. Avoid using keywords above 80 percent or listed as “Hard.” You’ll find it tough to rank for those terms, especially if you aren’t supporting your content marketing strategy with ads.


The number of URLs displayed in organic search results for any given keyword.

Keyword Density

A percentage that represents how often a given keyword is used compared to other words and phrases in a post or on a page. Google can red flag your content if the keyword density is over five-and-a-half percent, as it’s an indicator of inauthentic “keyword stuffing.”

Steps to Building the Best Keywords for Your Content Marketing

Define the Role Search Will Play with This Content

It’s easy to get wrapped up in keywords and be beholden to those terms. Before you begin, make sure you step back to evaluate how this page or post will fit into your content marketing strategy. If you’re aiming for it to be found in Google, then get after it! Keywords are the key to search engine optimization.

But if this content is being created to fill a different, specific need – for example, to speak to a particular audience in an email campaign or to promote a social media contest – then you may not need to put as much weight and attention on keywords.

Review Site-Wide Keywords Versus Content-Specific Keywords

If your goal is simply to get your overarching site found, then your job is simpler: Build content ideas and the writing of those posts around your website’s keywords. If you’re not sure which keywords your site should be found for, then you really should consider an SEO audit and package.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for the particular page or post you’re writing to not only reinforce the overall site’s keywords (it always should) but also be found on its own in search, that’s when you need to go further.

Pro efficiency tip: Tape a list of the top terms for which your site should be known next to your workstation. It’ll help always keep your site’s keywords top of mind and avoid breaking up your writing flow for each piece of content you write.

Find the Right Longtail Keywords

Oftentimes, the best way to get found is by being as specific about your business or topic as possible. Crafting your content around longtail keywords, a string of multiple words put together to create a phrase, will help on that front. For example, at first glance “New York City boutique hotel” looks like a longtail keyword, but it’s still pretty general. So much so that punching it into Google yields 5.6-million results, and enough ads to bury your content.

On the other hand, using “Meatpacking District micro-hotel” as your primary keyword casts a smaller, more focused net that will help individuals interested in the hot micro hotel trend find one of the few such properties in the city. Also work the terms “boutique hotel” and “New York” into the post or page and Google will give traveling tiny-house lovers exactly what they’re

Be sure to check out A Guide to Keywords, Part 2: When You’re Writing.

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