What do you do when you want to find something quickly? I bet you immediately go to your laptop or unlock your phone and head for a search engine.
You then type a few words and hit enter. You browse the results until you click on a page that looks promising. After you’re in, you get what you’re looking for and you’re all chuffed.
The words you type in search engines are called keywords. If you want people to find your site, you must understand what keywords are, why they matter, and the best practices for how to find them.
In this post, I’ll cover everything about keywords and how you can use them to up your content marketing game. Read on for some helpful tips on how to identify and implement the right keywords for your site.
What Are Keywords?
Keywords are words and phrases that users type into search engines to find information on a particular topic.
For example, if you were looking to buy a new pair of shoes, you might type something like “men’s Nike shoes” into Google. Even though that phrase consists of more than one word, it’s still a keyword.
But here’s the thing. No one outside of the SEO industry tends to use this terminology. Most people would call them Google searches or queries. Keywords, however, are synonymous with both of these things.
In the world of SEO, keywords are used in webpage content as a way of ranking at the top of Google’s results for that same keyword.
Website owners use keywords to improve their rankings on search engines like Google to increase their traffic and, consequently, drive new business.
Why Are Keywords Important?
Keywords are the linchpin between what people are searching for and the content you are providing to fill that need.
When you optimize your content around words and phrases that people search for, your website can rank higher for those terms.
The higher you rank in the search engine result pages, the more targeted traffic you can drive to your website. This is why finding keywords people search for is the most important step of any SEO campaign.
If you use the wrong keywords in your content, you’ll never get the visitors you want or need, because your text doesn’t match what your potential audience is searching for.
But if you do use the words people are searching for, your business can thrive.
Simply put, SEO is pretty much impossible without keywords.
Types of Keywords in SEO
There are different types of keywords you can use within your strategy to connect with a larger audience. Let’s look at a few types of keywords in SEO:
Broad in scope, these are phrases (no longer than three words) used to search for a topic. These are used to generate a broad appeal, for example: “Bluetooth speakers,” and “SEO tools.”
Long-tail keywords help users specify what they’re looking for with a longer keyword phrase, for example: “Best Bluetooth speakers under $200,” and “Best Free SEO tools for beginners.”
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords
These are keywords relevant to your overall topic conceptually. So if “soccer” is your keyword, LSI keywords might include “freekick,” “whistle,” “foul,” or “offside.”
These help searchers find content that’s relevant to their location, and often geo-targeting keyphrases can be adapted to your primary keywords, like “hardware stores near me”.
These types of keywords are brand-specific, and they’re helpful if you’ve already established your brand to any degree. For example, “Nike tennis shoes” and “Samsung Galaxy phones.”
How to Use Keywords in Your Content?
There used to be a time when you could add a lot of keywords to your pages and posts, do some old-fashioned keyword stuffing, and you’d rank in search engines.
But a text with a lot of the same words in it is not a pleasant read. And because users find this kind of copy terrible to read, Google finds it terrible too.
That’s why ranking in Google by doing keyphrase stuffing, fortunately, became hard to do. Nowadays, you’ll need to add your keywords in a natural way by writing focused content.
Use Keywords Naturally and in Moderation
Getting the right amount of keywords onto your page is a balancing act. If you don’t use your keyword enough, you will find it hard to rank for that phrase. But if you use your keyphrase too much, your page will become spammy and unreadable, and that will also make it hard to rank.
You need to find that sweet spot where you’re using your keyword enough, but not excessively. Make sure you don’t stuff it into almost every sentence.
Make sure you include them in a natural way. Your keywords should be part of logical, coherent sentences that tell users something about that topic. Don’t force keyphrases into text where they don’t make sense.
Lastly, your keywords should be well-distributed throughout your text. Don’t put all your keywords in the first paragraph thinking you’re done with that part of the optimization. Sprinkle them throughout your post.
Where to Insert Your Keywords?
Distributing your keywords throughout your post isn’t enough. There are other places where you should add them. Remember, always add keywords in moderation and put readability first.
Page Title and SEO Title
You should always add your keywords in your page title. Ideally, you want to add it at the start of your title, especially if your title is long. The same goes for your SEO title or meta title.
You should add your keyword to some of your subheadings (H2 and H3), but not all. Use your keywords in a heading or a couple of subheadings, depending on the length of your page or post.
Your introduction should get straight to the point, so Google and your readers know what you’ll be talking about. This is a great opportunity to include your keywords.
How to Find The Right Keywords for SEO?
The keywords that you choose can make or break your SEO efforts.
If you choose keywords that are too competitive, you’ll have a hard time ranking on Google. And if you optimize your site around keywords that your customers don’t actually search for, you can end up with a lot of traffic that doesn’t convert.
This is why, if your site is relatively new, you probably want to focus your SEO efforts on long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are search terms with relatively low search volume. But they tend to be very specific.
It’s also worth noting that long-tail keywords tend to convert at a much higher rate than high search volume terms.
People using long-tail keywords are looking for something specific. This means they’re likely further along in their buyer journey and are more likely to convert.
How to Choose the Right Keywords for SEO?
Nobody can rank for every keyword, and nobody can bid on every keyword. For that reason, it’s important to choose your battles wisely. Let’s look at a few tips to help you choose the best ones.
Analyze Search Intent
Search intent helps identify what keywords to select based on why people search. They’re divided into three categories:
- Navigational – the user wants to find another web page
- Informational – researching a topic
- Commercial – desire to make a purchase
To choose the right keywords with the best results you need to think like your customer.
Ideally, you should offer content on all three areas with the goal of completing your call-to-action. Your keywords will target different landing pages or web pages dedicated to those search phrases.
Find Keywords With Search Traffic Potential
Unless people are actually searching for a keyword, there’s no point in targeting it. That’s because ranking high for a keyword nobody is searching for won’t send any traffic your way. It simply has no traffic potential.
To find what people are searching for, you need a keyword research tool.
Google has a free one called Keyword Planner. The way it works is pretty simple: You enter a topic, and it kicks back relevant keyword ideas and search volumes.
Make Sure You Can Rank For the Keyword
In theory, anyone can rank for any keyword with enough effort.
But in the real world, some keywords are going to be harder to rank for than others, especially in the short to medium term. Therefore, you should assess the ranking difficulty of a keyword before you decide whether to go after it.
The simplest way to compare the relative ranking difficulty of potential keywords is by using a keyword difficulty score. Most SEO tools have this.
Analyze the Competition
Another great way to discover the best keywords is through your competitors’ websites.
Tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs help analyze traffic on any website, including your competition. Use it to understand their ranking position. Then utilize those findings to help shape your own strategy.
Keywords are the foundation of SEO. You can’t possibly create or optimize content for search engines unless you know what people are searching for and what they want to see.
I hope you didn’t just learn what keywords are. But hopefully, you also came away with practical knowledge of how to use keywords in your digital marketing efforts.
So go ahead and find keywords for your business. Sprinkle them into your SEO and Google Ads campaigns.