What are Keywords? A Guide to Finding and Using Them
If you’re asking ‘what are keywords?’, your business may be about to get a whole lot more visible online. Why? Because keywords are how you get found in the search engines. The good news is that once you understand what a keyword is, and how a keyword works, you can quickly start to use them in your content marketing strategy. In this guide, our Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) experts answer the questions:
Table of Contents
- What are keywords?
- How do I do keyword research?
- How do I choose the keywords I use?
- How do I use keywords in content?
- How do keywords help with ranking?
- Using keyword research tools.
What Are Keywords?
Keywords are the phrases or words that describe your product or service; they’re what your customers type into Google when they’re searching for what you sell.
You’re looking for a florist. What do you type into Google? “Flowers for Weddings”, “Flowers Delivered”, “Florist Near Me” are likely candidates. Each of these search terms is a keyword, in that they describe the product and service florists provide. Additionally, they’re all popular keywords that are searched for thousands of times each month.
“Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about. In terms of SEO, they’re the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called “search queries.”
Your use of keywords in your website will determine where you show up in the search engine results. When someone carries out a search online, Google will look for the best match for them; if you’re using the keywords they’re looking for, you’ve got a good chance of ranking high in the results.
How Do You Do Keyword Research?
Now we’ve dealt with ‘what are keywords?’ we need to tackle how you research them. Start your keyword research by listing the search terms that describe your product or service. Once you’re past the obvious ones, keep going till you find every single way people might describe what you sell or do in order to search for you. Then try each of your keywords in Google to find out how your competitors are using them, and what differentials they’re adding in.
You’ll see that brands use keywords in different ways; here are a few of the different types of keywords:
- High Search Volume. These are the short keywords that get the most searches each month. They are generic, such as ‘Flower shop’. You’re unlikely to rank high for these, because so many people will be chasing after them, but they should be included in a website page title to let Google know what your business does.
- Long Tail Keywords. These use more words and are more specific. Here’s an example: “wildflower wedding bouquets Birmingham”. There will be far less people using this search term, but it accurately describes a speciality you may offer that other florists don’t.
- Questions. When you check out your keywords on Google, you’ll notice a list of questions under the title: People Also Ask. These are popular questions which serve as useful keywords for blogs, or pages that describe specific services or products. To keep with the florist theme, a typical question might be: “What cut flowers last longer?”
- Niche. If you offer a very niche product or service, you will find that keywords describing it tend to have low volume. The people searching, however, will be looking for that specific product or service, so there’s a real advantage to offering something that’s pretty unique.
How Do I Choose the Keywords to Use?
Suppose you’re writing content for your new website. You want online searchers to know the range of things you do. So, choose up to 5 keywords that are popular, used by your competitors, and accurately describe your offering.
Then create 2-3 long tail keywords that show how you’re different from your competitors. It might be that you make free deliveries, or your stock is larger, or that you’re located in a different area. So “Flowers Delivered” becomes “Flowers Delivered Free in South Kensington”. The added detail is more accurate as well as being easier to rank for in Google for because – whilst there’s thousands of florists – there’s less concentrated in that particular area.
How Do I Use Keywords in Content?
What you have found as a result of you research is the phrases people use to describe what you’re selling. Use them naturally within your content to show online searchers that they’re in the right place to find what they’re looking for. The rule of thumb is to use each keyword no more than 3 times over 500 words. Keywords can be utilised in the following ways:
- As the title of a webpage
- As subtitles
- In the body of the content
- In the alt text for images
- In the SEO title of pages
- In the meta description for pages
How Do Keywords Help With Ranking?
When a new website is indexed, Google bots will ‘crawl’ your content and return collected data to Google’s server. The crawlers aren’t just looking for keywords, but they will pick up keywords as an important ranking factor. The better your keyword use, the higher you will rank.
Remember that ‘florists’ for example, are in stiff competition for the most popular keywords, so using these won’t get you to page one of Google. What will get you ranked well, though, is the use of a blend of both popular keywords and long tail keywords, questions and niche keywords. The more you demonstrate your difference from the competition, the greater your success in the rankings.
Using Keyword Research Tools
If you’re keen to make the most of your keyword research, you should start using the online tools that are created to help. Here are the ones we would recommend for anyone getting started:
- Soovle. This is great as a tool for starters; it gathers keywords from all the search engines into one place. And it’s free!
- Jaaxy. You get 30 searches free, before you need to subscribe. For short-term use this is a great way to generate keywords and get useful data on their effectiveness.
About Outsource Your Marketing
Outsource Your Marketing is a UK-based network of marketing professionals offering a range of outsourced services to business. We’ll do the big stuff – like creating and carrying out your marketing strategy for you. But we’ll also do the smaller tasks you don’t have time for, like keyword research, SEO enhanced content creation, or ongoing SEO marketing.
Bamboozled by SEO? The OYM team provides an SEO guide which answers the question “What are Keywords?” For all outsourcing enquiries call 01234 900203