What are Keywords and Why are they Important?
In creating content for your website, or research website marketing techniques, you may have come across the term “keywords”. In terms of websites, what exactly are keywords?
The best way to describe it is this: if you were looking for the information you have on your website, but you didn’t know about your company, you didn’t know your domain name, and you didn’t know where to look, what would you type into the search box at Google? That would most likely be your keywords.
What you want to do is rank high for the keywords you would expect people to look for while trying to find the exact information, products, or services you have on your website. This is one part of a larger topic called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. I’ve also written here about how to improve your SEO without paying a fortune. To rank high means to appear as close to the first page of Google for a keyword as you can.
Doing your research on Keywords
After making a list of what you think your potential visitors would be searching for when looking for information, products or services you offer (without knowing about your specific website), it’s time to do a bit of research to see what the competition looks like.
The first good step is to simply Google your keywords. What comes up? How many results are there? Are they all from a few specific websites or are they from many different websites?
The sites that come up for that keyword are your competition. Look at them carefully. What are they doing well? What do you do better?
Next, use some keyword tools available with different search engine webmaster tools. These will usually show you how many people have searched for that keyword in a specific amount of time, and it will also compare it with how much competition that particular keyword has.
In fact, if you go to Google’s webmaster tools, or the webmaster tools for any search engine, you’ll find loads of free help right from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. It’s generally not light reading, but it is loaded with great information for what the search engines themselves recommend for webmasters.
What keyword tools are available?
Google, for example, has it’s Keyword Planner. In order to use this, you need to have a Google AdWords account. Adwords is the ad program Google has for purchasing ad space on Google. I’ve done this a few times myself, for specific promotions, and it’s worked well. The keyword planner is mostly designed for picking your keywords for purchasing ads, however, it can also help you as you’re selecting your site keywords.
My personal preference is to use a paid service called LongTailPro which really has cut my keyword research time back dramatically. You can find out more information on LongTailPro here.
Google also has Google Trends, which shows you what is popular right now on Google. It gives a very general overview of what is getting searched for the most.
Bing also has a Keyword Research Tool, which allows you to see how many people are searching for your keywords on Bing, and how much competition they have.
What you want to do is find a happy medium…a keyword with lots of searches but low competition. The higher the competition, the more work you’ll need to get noticed.
I also really love this video here, which is available on YouTube from an SEO specialist in Australia. I feel how he explains finding good keywords is clear and helpful:
Keywords and Focus
One of the best things about considering your keywords as you create your content is focus. Thinking about your keywords helps you to focus your content better.
Each post and page, as David talks about in that video above, has it’s own probably low competition keywords. By focusing on a keyword or phrase for each post you create, you will be more likely to succeed in getting search engine traffic for this post.
Keyword Prime Real Estate
When it comes to where to put those keywords, some HTML tags are considered more important than others. Even if you don’t know HTML and you are using a content management system such as WordPress, you can still take advantage of this. Having the keywords in the title of a page or post, in the headlines within your content, or in the text that someone else has highlighted to link to your site are all important.
You obviously can’t do anything about how someone else links to your site, but when you create headlines to break up your content a bit within your post or page, and when you create a title, try to be keyword conscious.
Keyword Stuffing: Just don’t
Google often has some super helpful “hangouts” designed to help website owners get the most out of their services. I’ve found these to be informative and helpful to me as a website owner and as a website designer with clients. Every time, the bottom line is always the same:
Google wants you to have relevant, useful, original content.
Keywords need to be used naturally in context. Keywords need to accurately relate to the content. Incoming links that are from relevant sites will also make Google view your site as relevant and useful.
A site full of rehashed content stuffed with keywords in such a way that it doesn’t flow usefully may actually be harmed by the practice. Being linked to by sites that you’ve paid to link to you that don’t relate to your site may actually hurt you.
The Take-Away for You on Keywords
The takeaway on the topic of keywords for all of us is this: create a content-rich website that is useful to your visitors, easy to navigate, focused on its target keywords as much as possible, with descriptive headlines and subheads within the content and original content.
Search engines like Google will only see you as useful if you genuinely are. Don’t just try to trick the algorithm into thinking you are with some of these keyword stuffing practices. No one likes searching for something and landing on an irrelevant page. After all, Google is trying to be helpful to those searching. They do this well by constantly improving their algorithm.