If there is one thing at the epicenter of the growth of the internet, as well as Google’s massive $25 billion revenue, it’s keywords. Keywords are those little things that users type in search engine search boxes when they’re looking for something on the internet. And it’s their search terms that often dictate whether companies rise and fall.

Companies who understand keywords thrive. According to ComScore, Americans were already performing more than 15.5 billion searches a month, a number which has no doubt grown considerably since. And so keywords present a massive marketing opportunity for firms who understand them.

Picking the right SEO keyword phrases to include on blogs and websites isn’t completely straightforward. Here’s some advice for companies who want to make a splash online.

Pick good “Keyphrases”

The word “keyword” is a bit of a misnomer. Calling keywords words isn’t entirely accurate. Usually, companies don’t target words, they target phrases. There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is that users rarely enter keywords in a random order. Instead, they arrange them into a phrase that makes sense. Rather than targeting individual combinations of words, it’s often more effective to target a particular phrase or phrases, especially if those phrases come up over and over again.

The second reason for choosing to target keyphrases rather than keywords comes down to the fact that there’s a lot of competition online for particular keywords. As sofiaseo.com points out, targeting the right keyword is essential for success.

But the same keywords are targeted over and over again by companies in your industry. A far better way to gain traction is to target a keyphrase or a string of keywords that users regularly type in but that your competition isn’t focusing on.

This will allow you to develop a niche in the search results, improving your organic traffic, and putting you in a position where you can then compete for better ranking on more competitive keywords.

Avoid vanity keywords

Vanity keywords are the most popular single words used in search boxes for your particular industry. For instance, if you run a car repair shop, then the vanity keyword for this might be “mechanic.”

Type in “mechanic” into Google, and you’ll get the highest ranking websites for this phrase. The chances are that it won’t be your small repair shop that’s at the top of the list: it’ll be a big, multinational company with a team of SEO experts working for them.

Don’t focus on these “vanity” keywords says Inc.com. Instead, look around for hundreds of less competitive keywords and target those. Often you’ll get a much better return for your SEM investment.

Value repetition

Google ranks websites based on their relevance to a particular search phrase. Because Google can’t understand text in the way that you or I do, their robots have to use alternative means of discovering relevancy.

One of the ways that they do this is to count how many times a keyword is used. Repeating keywords can, therefore, be valuable, so long as the meaning of the sentence is retained.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (his free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.