You know that keywords are important, but how do you use them to improve your search ranking and bring the right audience to your content? Trying to understand SEO (search engine optimization), is often an exercise in jargon-filled frustration. Fortunately, the concept of keywords is actually straightforward. The great news is that you don’t have to be a guru or large corporation to make keywords work for you. In this post we’ll go over the basics of keywords, to help you better understand SEO and how it relates to your business growth.
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Any time you type a word or phrase into a search box—on Google, for example—you are using keywords to try to find relevant images, videos, or information. Keywords are basically terms that we send to a search engine when we’re on the prowl for answers, knowledge, products, or services.
When it comes to SEO, keywords have a specific and important purpose. They tell a search engine, like Google, exactly what you are looking for. The search engine then queries its database to try to deliver the most useful and relevant web pages.
Since organic search plays such a central role in attracting customers to your business, you want to rank high for the terms that your audience is searching for. To do that, you need to send signals to the search engines that you have the high-quality content your potential customers need.
By placing keywords in your content—on your website pages and in your blog posts—you make it easier for search engines to know what your pages are all about. It isn’t about stuffing your content with keywords or trying to hide terms where they don’t belong. Instead, write for your audience and optimize your pages for search engines.
Search engines are the link between your business and your target audience, so you’ll want to understand how that connection is made. While Google is smart—and getting smarter every day—it doesn’t automatically know that you have the solutions your customer needs.
The best it can do is take the words and phrases your audience is using (the keywords) and try to find the most relevant results from the internet. This means that you need to know not just what your audience is searching for but also the specific words they are using. This is where keyword research comes in.
If you pay attention to your audience—on social media sites, in emails, or in conversations—you can discover what language they use when searching for the products and services that you provide. Know your audience to know which keywords matter.
Let’s say we install and maintain elevators in high-rise office buildings. “Elevator repair” might be a good start for keyword research if we’re in the United States. If we’re in England, however, our customers are more likely looking for “lift repair.”
You probably won’t make an error as obvious as this, but there are many different ways to convey even the simplest ideas. That’s why you need to pay attention to the way your audience speaks, writes, and searches.
Generally, unless your target audience includes specialists in an area, your keywords will be everyday language, so try not to include too much jargon. The better you can match the specific words of your audience, the higher your search rankings will be. Also, mirroring your customers’ language builds trust with them, which can help you generate leads online.
So how do optimize your web pages to help your clients find all of your great website content? As mentioned above, search engines like Google are the bridge between your business and those looking for it. Keywords serve as signposts that point search engines in the right direction.
Search engines use keywords to identify, categorize, and retrieve pages according to how people are searching. Since websites can offer information about anything from windsurfing to wind turbines, it can be difficult to pinpoint what a particular page offers.
Keywords can help with that because they provide clues about the content on a given page. Google likes pages that are easy to identify and require the least amount of work. By using proper SEO practices, you can ensure that Google matches your page with the customers who are looking for your expertise.
When you target keywords, you focus a given page on a specific topic. You are trying to get that page to rank in search engine results pages for relevant searches. This important practice helps SEO also because Google knows that your page is particularly well suited for a narrow search. Since Google is in the business of delivering useful information, it will show your page as a good result for that focused query.
When you use keywords to increase your rank, this leads to more clicks from searches. A higher rank also increases your credibility in the mind of the visitor. That builds more trust and ultimately leads to more potential customers.
Keywords also play an important role in search engine marketing (SEM), also known as paid search advertising or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. In this case, you are bidding on particular keywords in order to show your ads only to a particular audience. To better understand SEM, take a look at this introduction to search engine marketing.
For our elevator repair service from above, for example, we might want to create an ad campaign to increase visibility for our services. However we don’t want to advertise to just anyone. We want to show our ad to a specific audience interested in elevator repair or maintenance. After all, you are paying per click, so you want those clicking on your ad to be those most likely to convert into customers.
If we’ve done our keyword research, we’ll know what particular set of keywords our audience uses. We can use that information to create a highly targeted campaign that attracts customers who are ready to buy or learn more about our elevator services.
Properly executed SEM strategies are a great way to jump directly to the front page of search engine results, helping more potential customers find you. However, they do cost money, so it’s important to get familiar with paid search advertising before you begin a campaign.
Keywords sound technical, but they are actually quite simple. Remember that keywords help search engines know what your content is about. If you listen to your audience and allow them to guide your content, you will be off to an excellent start in optimizing your web pages.