What are keywords? Here in our Beginner’s Guide to Keywords and SEO, we discuss exactly what keywords are and how to get these right to generate large amounts of organic traffic.
Simply put, keywords are individual words or phrases that search engines use to match people’s search enquiries with relevant content on the web.
For example, say you want to research short haired chihuahuas. You may go to google and type the keyword short haired chihuahuas and see which pages come up. It’s the search engine’s job to provide the most relevant search results to you the customer, and this is done through algorithms that ‘crawl’ each site’s use of keywords and determine how relevant these pages are to topics and keywords that their customers (the web-browsing public) are searching for.
What does all this mean for your business? There are 2 steps necessary to cover the basics in keywords and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and they are:
1. Identify which keywords your business should compete on
2. Place these keywords strategically in your web pages
Let’s have a look at these two steps in more detail:
1. Identifying your keywords
You’ll want to identify exactly which keywords your customers are searching for, and include these in the setup of your website pages to ensure your site gets found ahead of the others.
Google provides a helpful keyword research tool called Keyword Planner, which can be accessed for free through your Google Adwords account. This is a great starting point, so open the tool and head to the search function.
If you use Keyword Planner to search for a generic keyword or topic, the tool will provide you with a list of suggested categories and individual keywords and an estimate on the amount of monthly traffic on each of these. Note: short-tail keywords (for example: fashion) will have a lot of traffic and a lot of competition and may be impossible for you to compete on. Long-tail keywords/keyphrases (for example: Korean fashion styles) may have less overall traffic, but more possibility of you competing and being found for these keywords.
The trick is to find keywords that have strong amounts of traffic and little enough competition; you want to be on page 1 of search results of keywords that are searched 400 times or more per month. Stats show that the vast majority of people rarely look at page 2+ search results, so try to compete on keywords you can get to page 1 with, and that have some good traffic numbers.
Use this tool to narrow down your top 5-10 keywords; these will be the basis for your SEO strategy on each of your web pages.
2. Placing your targeted keywords within your site
Now that you have your list of targeted keywords, it’s time to place them exactly where the search engines are looking for them. Deliberately stuffing your pages full of all of these keywords is not advised, as Google and Yahoo have caught on to this practice long ago and usually penalise pages for these black-hat techniques. Instead, make your pages relevant to your chosen keywords, and try to include these exact keywords in the following places:
- Web page title
- Web page URL
- Copy of the page (try to get the keyword in the first sentence, and once or twice more throughout the page)
- Names and alt text of any images included on the page
- Meta-description of the web page
Remember keywords are all about relevance, so write your pages for humans (not just for google), and these people will stay, share, and return regularly to your web pages. If you include the above techniques and build relevant, helpful web pages, the search engines will see this and reward your pages with higher rankings, sending you more and more organic search traffic.
If you’re using WordPress for your site, there are a number of plugins available to make the SEO process easier and more comprehensive; Yoast SEO is one plugin that is we have used over the past few years and highly recommend. There are plenty of other helpful plugins, so take a look out there and get your keywords and SEO right from the beginning!
Building quality pages with targeted keywords and strong SEO strategies is as complicated as you want it to be; indeed many people are building careers and agencies dedicated to this ‘art’ of learning to please the major search engines. Fortunately, if you follow the above steps you’ll already be ahead of a great deal of your competition.
For further reading, you may want to also check out 9 Winning SEO Strategies for Bloggers – these tips apply to most webpages (not just blogs) and will take you to the next level of SEO success.