When was the last time you typed in “cars” into Google when looking to buy a car?

Perhaps, if you live in Boise, you typed in “Toyota Corolla deal Boise” or if you are a really hip parent in Sacramento you might have typed “fully loaded used Honda Odyssey”.

Optimizing your web sites for high value keywords may be a waste of time. Especially if you are not a national brand. People are searching for regional information and Google is also sorting content based on the searchers location, especially when it comes to mobile searches.

When you start you keyword research be sure to use keyword phrases not words.

How to select the best SEO keywords

Here are seven tips that are critical in learning how to select the best SEO keywords :

1) Optimize for local. That means cities, counties and states (or provinces) that your web site serves by including the add on “in Chicago” or “in Montana” or even in a neighbourhood like “in Haight Ashbury” for local businesses.

2) If you are a national brand be sure to provide regional information, such as store locations, regional offices and the like. People like to deal with local. Support your region reps and drive traffic to them.

3) Think like a searcher and design keyword phrases they may type to find your product or service. Poll your a barista, your neighbours and your likely customers. Taxi drivers, if you sell to consumers, are always good for consumer research.

4) Don’t chase single word keywords unless you are patient and have a huge budget to put behind content development. No content related to that term, no traffic.

5) Google rewards content-rich web sites with high rankings if they generate voluminous and helpful content that demonstrates that the they are the topic expert. This strategy will guarantee that over time you will earn traffic from Google for all kinds of keyword phrases.

6) Research how difficult a keyword phrase is to win. Use a tool like Wordtracker. Don’t chase the  hard to get keywords. Optimize for the low-hanging fruit first then work on moving up the rankings on the more competitive keywords and keyword phrases.

7) A handy free research tool is Google Adwords. It can be used to find related phrases and keywords to the most obvious keywords and keyword phrases. You don’t have to buy ads to use it.