The absolute foundation is figuring out what people are searching for in relation to what you sell. The whole point with search is you're not putting your content on a billboard and interrupting people who are doing something else. You're tapping into an existing flow of intent. People are already there in the search engine, actively searching to fulfil a need.
In figuring out your fit against that existing traffic flow, consider:
- What do you sell?
- What do you do?
- What are you good at?
- What do you want to talk about?
- What are the things that you do that people could be interested in?
You then need to target those topics and areas of interest with appropriate content, remembering the principals of EAT. Generally speaking, by brain dumping around the questions above you can arrive at your ‘seed’ terms which you can then use to investigate your full keyword landscape using a tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs or MYPOSEO.
A bit more technically, SEO is the process of figuring out how people are searching for the products and solutions that your brand can solve. Typically, a search will start broad for a key term that has a comparably large amount of search volume. As the user educates themselves through searching, they become more aware of the specific thing they are after which is then reflected in their refined search queries (this is typically what we call in SEO the longer-tail versions of the broad search terms the user started with).
The long-tail tends to have lower search volumes per key phrase but much higher conversion intent. The broader head-term will tend to have higher volume but lower intent. Ideally, we want to optimise for both, but starting with the higher intent longer-tail tends to be a great place to start and more important for your conversions. It will also help with the optimization process for the broad term, which tends to be more competitive and takes longer to optimise for.
The cautionary tale here is to not blinker yourself with big volume vanity head terms rather than capturing the higher intent lower volume long-tail which, incidentally when you put all the long-tail together, tends to amount more volume than the head term. This is an incredibly common misinterpretation of what SEO should be delivering.