I have just hired an SEO company to help me rank better on google, and they are currently negotiating keywords that we intend to rank for. I want to make sure I'm getting my best bang-for-buck and don't want them to be sneakily ranking me for keywords that never get searched or give good ROI.

What is best practice for me to check that these keywords are good, and then negotiate with the SEO crew if they are not?

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  • Ask them those keywords search volume, like how many people search about it. In your case most of query will return same result. Google don't look into keywords, they understand user intent, if people search about adelaide wedding photography then Google will rank same website on first position for this keyword as well wedding photography in adelaide hills Just try out different cities name in your query and you will get what I am talking about it.
    – Goyllo
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 18:08
  • I realize that for so many I am a broken record, however, SEO is not about keywords. If that is all your SEO can focus in on and is his entire strategy, then fire him immediately​. The strategy should be on content not keywords. Search engines do not match keywords but semantic intent. If your SEO cannot discuss effectively on the topic of topical and linguistic semantics, then show him the door. He does not have to be an expert to be effective, however, he should know how semantics effects search query matches. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 23:40

2 Answers 2


We encounter this kind of conversation a lot, and my alarm bells always go off reminding me that this can become a slippery slope away from what your real goals are (or should be, in my opinion).

Ranking for keywords is part of SEO, sure, but it's also not the real end game. You want people to visit your site, and ultimately take some sort of action - maybe download a PDF, make a sale, or generate a lead. As long as the right people are finding your site, and then clicking on it, does it really matter which keywords they used to find you? My answer to that question is no.

That means that whether I find you by searching for "affordable wedding photography" or "cheapest best photographer who specializes in weddings" or "wedding photog near me", my end goal - and yours - is presumably the same.

So, what difference does that make? It's a mindset difference. You've got a great list local, topical keywords there. They help to identify your customer persona, and more importantly, their intention for searching. That's what you really want your SEO to focus on. In the old days (before I started SEO, if I'm being honest), your agency would likely be trying really hard to make sure that you were #1 for every query of "best wedding photographers" by making sure those words were prominent and properly organized throughout your site. Your domain would be a monument to "best wedding photographers" and nothing else. Nowadays, it's different: the website needs to be useful and informative, easy to navigate, practical, and basically developed to be the most useful tool for someone who wants to hire the best wedding photographers. The elements that go into that are more varied: they include keywords, sure, but a wider array of keywords; they also include UX design, great calls to action, engagement metrics (such as bounce rate and CTR), and a long list of other factors.

My suggestion to you is to not be so concerned with whether every search for "best wedding photographer adelaide" in Adelaide, and more concerned with developing and organizing the content that someone who would actually type that would find useful. Your SEO is for the forest, not the trees. If you're confident that there's a market for your services, and your SEO follows this approach, you should, over time, start to see the increased traffic and increased conversions you want. Don't worry if you're ranking #1 for all of your favorite terms - at the end of the day, simply ranking doesn't make you money.

PS - This isn't to say that starting with keywords like you have in your list is a bad place. Your SEO team (your PPC team too, if you go that route, and I'd recommend it if it's in your budget), will appreciate and use this. It's just that they'll use it as part of a bigger picture process. If their work ends with your list, then you've got the wrong team.

  • 1
    Search engines do not match keywords and have not since Google appeared in 1998. It is all about semantics. What the SEO should be working on is properly written content and not keywords. No one ranks for keywords. Sites and pages rank. So to simply modify a site geared to a short list of search terms is really short sighted. That is mostly what you seem to be saying and one reason why I like this answer. The OP should throughout the list and ask the SEO for a bigger strategy. If the answer focuses again on keywords then fire the SEO. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 23:31
  • You're both correct and far more succinct than I could hope to be. Glad we agree!
    – Gesundheit
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 18:51

Very good question.

Let me explain from both sides: 1) As a business owner 2) As an SEO provider.

As a business owner

You shouldn't think about SEO to rank for keywords which vary slightly. And also based on individual suburbs too much unless there is significant search volume.

This is how you should think in terms of priority:


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Suburb Location Based:



Now, the best seo should be done to build authority for your website and implement long-term planning for primary and secondary keywords and then come to 3rd level keywords like suburb etc.

Note: Primary keywords are much harder to rank and if you find right digital agency and if you trust them then you need to allow proper time to show you gradual improvement in ranking.

Warning: If not done in right way, not only your ranking will fall but also it will be very hard to recover.

As an SEO Provider

There are many agencies, which sales SEO based on the number of keywords, but i guess business owners also ask for the number of keywords.


SEO should be considered as a long-term investment and build authority and see what best you can get rather than having a mindset to rank page 1, top 3.

Hope this will help you.


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