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Keywords are the words, topics, and phrases that define what the content on a website is really about. This way a search engine can figure out what the topic of the website is and match search queries relevant to that topic.
Keywords are the linchpin between what people search for and what websites they are presented with as a result of their search. The keywords on your website will determine what search queries return the site as a search result. Understanding what keywords are valuable to your site is crucial in driving the correct audience to you.
Keywords are divided into two major categories: Head Keywords and Long-Tail Keywords. These serve different functions on your website and it is important to pay close attention to the techniques required to maximize their efficiency.
Head keywords are displayed within the “Title” and “H1” tags and are cataloged by web crawlers when updating the webpage. This determines the specific phrases that will enable the URL to be found on the SERP. Check out the tag below to see our keywords for our “Tips & Tricks For Increasing Page Speed” article (and check it out if you’re interested, the link is on the photo!)k
Long-Tail Keywords are words with a high search volume, but also maintain high competition within search. These are typically single words that are generic (think “dog” for example) or keywords with a defined intent (“the best dog food for puppies”). The longer the phrase, the more intent that can be derived. In turn, the competition for a “well defined” phrase reduces and creates an opportunity to penetrate that specific phrase.
So, how do you know which keywords to use in your website’s content?
Research your audience. Research your direct competitors. Research your indirect competitors. Research the industry. There is no shortcut to gaining insights on what keywords have the most value to your site or business. These words and phrases should match the language your target audience uses in when searching for your site or business.
You operate a website that sells sneakers for young adults. That means your target audience for your website is young adults. Now lets say a new trend amongst this audience catches on and they stop saying sneakers and instead call them “kicks”. If your website is geared towards selling “sneakers” to young adults, you will struggle gaining PageRank. Because your target audience is now searching for “kicks” and not “sneakers”, your website has lost its relevance in the eyes of the search engine. To resolve this issue, you have to research what language your target audience is currently using. This will provide you with the relevant keywords to use on your site. There are many different tools that can help with your keyword research. Check out our favorite: Answer the Public
This tool lets you search for a keyword and it will return questions, prepositions, comparisons, and alphabeticals related to the searched keyword. The site utilizes data found in the auto suggest results in Google and Bing’s search bar. Below is a picture from Answer the Public’s questions section, using the example of “sneakers” that we mentioned above.
Keyword research should be maintained continually as site content is developed and pushed to a production environment. Search language shifts constantly and requires regular monitoring in order to remain competitive. A website should be thought of as a living document, rather than a one-time creation. These sites should be maintained through constant surveillance of traffic metrics, keyword metrics, and SEO tools.
The image below is a chart from Google Trends after a search for the keyword “sneakers”.
It’s a trend line illustrating the interest in this search term over the past five years.
Searching for various keywords on Google Trends provides you with an overview of any given keywords popularity and a projection for where the popularity is heading in the future.
The following video is a great way to plan your keywords. We strongly recommend you watch this and adopt the strategies if you want to fully optimize the keywords on your website.
One of the fundamental pillars you need to take into consideration when strategically planning keywords throughout your site is relevance. Relevance refers to how well your keywords relate to the general content of your site. Crawlers will be measuring the relevance of your website by looking at your content and comparing it to the keywords you use in your site. These must be related, or else, your site is not relevant to the keywords you use and PageRank will fall.
Even the URL of this site has a keyword phrase (Canine-Separation-Anxiety). This helps to direct traffic for this specific question on Google’s results page:
By using the “Inspect” tool on Google Chrome (F12) we can see the “H1” and “H2” tags have keywords placed in them. This is true for all well-optimized sites, and is a prime location for organizing keywords that you wish to rank for.
Keywords are a critical part of every website. Using the right tools will help you determine which keywords you can rank for, how difficult these rankings will be, and even spark ideas on new places to rank.
Check out our “must have” toolbox. Some of these are “freemium” tools that will unlock additional features if you subscribe, others are completely free (and even provided by Google).