Link Building 101: Market-Defining Keywords vs. SEO Keywords

When compiling a keyword list to combine with, say, a link building query generator, it's easy to miss the distinction between Market Defining Keywords and your standard SEO keywords, especially for SEOs who have trained themselves to think in terms of long tails, big heads, and everything in between.

4 Characteristics of Market Defining Keywords

  • Probably not converting keywords
  • Words the market or participants use to describe itself/themselves
  • Single or two-word phrases that are very crowded and competitive in the SERPs
  • Keywords you would NOT target with a PPC campaign

So, let's say you're a camping goods retailer and have a camping tips blog. When developing out your queries it could be tempting to use product-related keywords that convert well for you. Instead of profitable keywords, think of 5-10 market defining keywords that have the 4 characteristics mention above.

For a camping goods retailer these market-defining keywords could look like:

  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Outdoors
  • Hunting
  • Fishing

Those keywords, combined with advanced operators and other link prospecting keyword clusters, will turn up far more prospects than keywords like "camping equipment."


  1. Market-Defining Keywords vs. SEO Keywords

    Very, very interesting. This is great info. In over three years online marketing this is the first time I've heard of this thought pattern in link building. Great job...... I'm off to find my MDK's. Will definitely be back to your site.

  1. great insight on keywords for link building

    These market defining keywords are a great step in finding good opportunities. I find that campaigns fail after aligning with exact match keywords targeted in SEO. Vertical keyword targeting will produce much better results.

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