Imagine you’ve just put the finishing touches on your business website, or you’ve polished a new blog post. You’re a rock star at what you do, and your future clients will be lucky they found you.
But first, they have to find you. A needle in the haystack, perhaps, competing with millions of other pages on the internet. How will yours stand out? How will you rise to the top of Google? How can you make it easy for your target customers to find you?
That’s where SEO Keyword Research comes in.
Keywords are the actual, specific words or phrases that people type into a search engine when they want information about a topic. For example, a keyword may be “frugal holiday decorating” or “strawberry freezer jam.” The most important keywords are the ones your target customers type into a search engine, such as Google, to find businesses like yours. Keyword research will help you find the right ones.
For example, if you sell premium denim to women in their 40s and 50s, is the term “denim” more important that the term “jeans”? Probably not, even if you’ve decided to use “denim” in your messaging to reflect your upscale product. Because how many people go to the computers and search for “denim jeans”?
Heard of SEO – search engine optimization? Keywords and SEO go hand in hand.
Using the best keywords for your business in the right places on your website will help your website rise to the top of the search engine results page (SERPs), driving mad traffic to your site! Note, there are a lot of ways to play the SEO game, and keyword research is one tactic. It can take months of consistent and strategic work to organically appear at the top of the search results – but it is extremely valuable because it means many more qualified customer leads via your website or social page.
Using poor keywords, or no keywords at all, means your site may get lost in the fray. When was the last time that you searched for a topic (Googling yourself doesn’t count) and ever looked past the first page of results (or maybe the second)?
In the above example of “strawberry freezer jam,” you might write a fantastic post about strawberry jam that goes in the freezer, but if you don’t use the phrase “strawberry freezer jam” verbatim in your post in strategic spots, you’ll miss out on everyone who searched for that most popular phrase.
Note: “Retail coupons” is a totally different keyword than “store coupons.”
Broad vs. Specific
Keywords should relate directly to your audience, and be as specific as you need them to be to narrow down your potential clientele.
For example: Say you’ve launched a photography business. Of course you want to make sure you use the words “photographer” and “photography.” But imagine how many sites about photography there are. These are poor keywords because there’s a lot of competition, and they also really don’t fully describe what you have to offer.
You want to select some niche or geographic keywords that narrow who will find your site, down to the people who are actually looking for what you do, and possibly even where you do it. Using well-chosen specific keywords will do more to convert searchers and net you business.
- affordable wedding photography
- Seattle portrait photographer
- freelance editorial photographer
How to use keywords to drive mad traffic to your site
Remember, bots are crawling the web 24/7 to index web pages and determine which sites it will return in a search. These three tips and tricks can increase your chances of getting noticed by the algorithm.
1. Use keywords verbatim. Once you’ve decided on a word/phrase, make sure you include it exactly, down to the order of the words and even the “s” (“photographer” vs. “photographers”). Scanning computer bots are looking for an exact match and aren’t smart enough to pull your topic out of surrounding context.
2. Use keywords in key places. Make sure to include them in the title of the page, the first paragraph (as close to the beginning as possible), within hyperlinked text, and in subheadlines in <h2> font. Instead of saying “Go here for my strawberry freezer jam recipe,” using the keyword in the link (“Go here for my strawberry freezer jam recipe“) will boost your SEO and increase your chances of getting clicks.
3. Sprinkle gently. It’s true, to get noticed, you want to repeat the keywords throughout your web page. But you also want to sound human. Overindulgence is called keyword stuffing, and not only will including the phrase ad nauseam turn off your readers, but it will actually backfire for SEO and the search algorithm will rate your page lower because it looks like the web page equivalent of spam.