How to Use SEO Keywords: A Beginner’s Guide
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of bettering your company’s website and online presence in order to increase your organic rankings in Google. There are many methods that can be used to do this, but one big pinnacle of successful SEO is to make on-page optimizations. On-page optimizations can include metadata enhancements, internal linking best-practices, fast site speeds, quality content, and last, but certainly not least, strong keyword inclusion.
Keywords within the context of SEO are word topics and phrases that better define what your content is about. It is important to include these keywords throughout your website and within your content in order to signal to Google what it is you are offering or discussing. In basic terms, keywords are the phrases or words that people search in Google to get their desired results. If you have these keywords correctly utilized throughout your site, then Google will want you high in the search results.
Keywords will ultimately :
- Make your content stronger and more optimized
- Make it easier for Google to find you
- Increase the likelihood that Google will want you to be the preferred results
- Make your content or offerings more useful and easier to find for searchers
With the proper utilization of keywords, everyone wins!
Why Keywords are Important
Keywords are important for a number of different reasons. Above all else, they act as your link between what people are searching for, also known as search queries, and what you are offering to fulfill those search needs. Ultimately the goal of SEO is to drive traffic to your website organically. In order to do that you want your website to rank higher in the search results for queries related to the products, services, or content that you have to offer. The best way to do all of this- conduct keyword research and include those keywords properly.
How to Choose SEO Keywords
Now that you have an understanding of what SEO keywords are, it is important to also understand how to choose SEO keywords. When initially selecting your keywords, or when making adjustments to your site’s targeting keywords, it is important to perform keyword research. Keyword research is the process of identifying the keywords that will best suit your website. Keyword research can also provide insight into how many people are actually searching certain keywords and keyword phrases to ensure that you are getting the most out of your optimizations.
There are many different factors that go into how to choose SEO Keywords, but we have boiled it down to the three most important attributes to consider.
The intent of a keyword is essentially the meaning or desired results behind a search. In simplest terms, it is what the searcher wants, or is looking for, when they go to Google. For example, if you are a band trying to gain traction by performing at weddings, the keyword phrase “wedding bands” is probably not optimal for you because it does not have the best search intent. Typically, someone searching “wedding bands” is looking for wedding rings to exchange on the big day and not someone to play their music. Understanding the intent that searchers have and the intent that Google will most likely perceive is an essential part of how to choose SEO keywords.
That is a more obvious example of how intent can be important, but there are different ways that intent can be off. Another example is if your company is a skincare business. The keyword phrase “best skincare” in theory has strong intent, but in actuality, the Google results that populate for this search do not align with the goals of your company. While you are trying to sell the “best skincare” available, the results of that search query are mostly blogs, articles, and lists of top skincare products and brands.
Keyword intent, therefore, is a lot about the meaning of your words, but also what Google thinks that people are looking for when they search. If you are trying to sell a product or service but the search results for a keyword are more informational or directory-based, then you probably need to keep looking for a better match.
The next factor to consider when choosing the keywords that are best for your site is keyword relevance. This is exactly what it sounds like- the relevance of keywords to your site. You can add keywords to your site all day long, but if they are not relevant to your company or its offerings, Google will not allow you to rank well on them. On the flip side, you want your keywords to be as relevant as possible to help ensure that not only are you attracting traffic to your site, but that you are attracting the right traffic.
The final main piece to consider in dealing with how to choose SEO keywords is feasibility. This is in regard to the feasibility that your site has to rank on a certain keyword or keyword phrase. This is typically two-fold because it depends on how high the search volume of a keyword is, and also how likely your business is to rank on that keyword. If you are a local business or a smaller business in general, you are not very likely to rank on keywords with high search volumes. For example, if you are a small, local grocery store, it is not feasible that your website will rank for keyword phrases like “grocery store” or “fresh fruits and vegetables.” The search volumes for those keywords are too high and also have massive competition from bigger companies like Kroger, Publix, etc. that will dominate the search results.
There are ways for smaller businesses to rank on keywords that are relevant to them, however. This will be discussed later.
How to Find SEO Keywords
As discussed above, keyword research is essential when it comes to planning the on-page optimizations and strategy for your business’s website. But how do you find keywords anyway? There are numerous tools that are available to help you find the right keywords for your business. Taking feasibility, intent, and rankability into consideration, you can use these tools to find keywords that match your business, have a high search volume, and that you will be able to rank on.
Tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, Google Trends, and more can be great resources to find keywords and different keyword variations that apply to you. Or, simply start typing potential keywords into Google’s search bar. The suggested results are there for a reason and could provide some new opportunities and ideas. Keyword research is all about being creative and smart- so this is your time to design a custom strategy to best fit your business!
Types of Keywords in SEO
There are dozens of different types of keywords in SEO. While it can be helpful to learn all of the different options, we have narrowed it down to what we believe are the 5 most important types of keywords in SEO.
Generic/ Broad Keywords
Generic or broad keywords are the simplest, most overarching keywords that can be used. Sometimes also known as short-tail keywords, these keyword phrases consist of only 1-3 words. For that reason, they are not typically very specific and most likely have high search volumes. The general rule of thumb is to avoid the use of these keywords because chances are it will be impossible to rank on them and the intent is probably off anyway.
Examples of Broad Keywords: women’s shoes / home roof repair / living room couch / red lipstick
Long-tailed keywords are your new best friend! Long-tailed keywords consist of more than 3 words and are, therefore, more specific searches. This typically lowers search volume, which is good in this case because it increases your feasibility to rank. Plus, the more specific the keyword is, the more likely that the searcher knows exactly what they are looking for, so they are the exact customer that you, in turn, want.
Examples of Long-Tailed Keywords: fire ant removal service / plus size black prom dress
Geotargeted keywords are keywords that include location modifiers in order to specify the area a customer is looking for a certain product or service. These are also sometimes referred to as local keywords because they are especially useful for local businesses. This is a small, local business’s best bet to rank for keywords against the “giants” in their respective industries.
Examples of Geotargeted Keywords: mexican restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia / home cleaning services in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Branded keywords are exactly as the name suggests- keywords with branded terms included. These can be beneficial for companies offering brand-name products or the brands themselves. It is typically difficult to rank on these keywords if you are not the actual brand, however, so it is important to see what results populate in the search results before you settle on these keywords.
Examples of Branded Keywords: Nike women’s shoes / Michael Kors gold watch
Last but not least, informational keywords are those that are used to find information. These are typically going to be in the form of questions. These keywords can often provide additional opportunities for a company to rank on questions that relate to the products or services that they provide. If you can answer a potential customer’s question, they may be interested to see what else you have to offer.
Examples of Informational Keywords: how to garden tomato plants / how to brand your company
Keyword Inclusion & How Many Keywords Per Page
When implementing keywords onto your site, it is important to note that it is not a game of adding the keywords as much as possible throughout. Each page should have specific keywords that are targeted and that the page is optimized for. Optimizations can include keyword inclusion in the metadata, in the alt tags, in the URLs, and especially throughout any content on the page. Ultimately, you don’t want your pages to compete with themselves though, so choosing precise keywords for the different pages of your site is essential to ranking success.
The natural question now is how many keywords to include per page. The answer, unfortunately, isn’t cut and dry. It depends entirely on the structure of your site, the products or services you are offering, and the content that you have on your pages. In general though, it is a good rule of thumb to have one primary keyword per page, with a few secondary supporting keywords. Within the content of the page, these keywords should be included anywhere possible while maintaining quality and readability. Keyword inclusion should be natural and easy to read so that your content doesn’t come across as spammy in the eyes of Google or your readers. A good general metric to follow is that your keywords should make up at least 3-5% of the content. Meaning if you have 100 words on the page, your keyword phrase should be included at least 3 times. Keyword insertion coupled with the optimization of your site’s metadata for your selected keywords is a great start on your way to improving organic rankings!
There is a lot to understand when it comes to the use of keywords in SEO. Ultimately, this information will act as a good beginner’s guide to understanding how to use SEO keywords.
If you would like more information or assistance in regards to keyword best-practices, check out the rest of our blogs or reach out to us today to see how Techwood Digital can help you!