Whether you’ve been around on the web for a long time, or you’re just starting out, keyword research is an essential part of building your website. Keywords are so essential, in fact, that if the research isn’t done correctly, you won’t have the right audience your site targets, and you won’t have many visitors overall.
You might think of keywords as just that: keys that help you guide visitors to your site. Not only that, but keywords are the way to get attention from search engines. Search engines find your site, crawl it in search of keywords, and then use these words to categorise your site within their database.
This is how search engines guide users to your site. Users find your site but inputting search terms into the search engine. The search engine then goes through the database looking for similar keywords (search terms), and after finding them, returns the search results to the person looking for information on that specific topic.
If your website’s keywords are not correctly optimised, search engines won’t be able to properly categorise your site topic. Then you won’t have the right visitors showing up. Those who do visit your site will quickly leave when they don’t find the information they need.
Before we get into all that, let’s take a minute to review keywords.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are ideas and concepts based on specific topics that define your website and its content. For SEO purposes, these are words and/or phrases that people enter into a search engine to find specific information they need or want.
For your site, you need keyword to be relevant to what people are searching for so they can quickly find your topic and the information they need.
Why are Keywords Important?
Remember the key analogy? Your “key” words are specific words or terms that people use in search engines to find your site. All the content on your site, whether posts, images, etc. must contain the right keywords that your target audience will use in a search engine.
Your keywords will determine the type of traffic and even the number of visitors you’ll have. So, you want this traffic to be targeted. This is a targeted traffic is a topic for another post; for now, we’ll just take a stick with keywords.
How do you know what keywords to choose for your site? That’s the question. It can be difficult to find the correct keywords to use on your site. Especially since there are literally thousands of keywords available, but what you need to do is target the key words to your audience.
When conducting keyword research, it’s necessary to think like your target audience. What types of words will they use for the search? Is there particular jargon they’ll search for? These are clues to the keywords you’ll need to use on your site, especially if you want traffic that converts into sales.
One way to find the right keywords is to think of the questions site visitors are trying to answer, the words they type into the search engine, etc. When you have this information, you’ll be ready to optimize these keywords on your site.
When looking for keywords the goal is to find words that have a high search volume but that have lower scale of competition. What does this mean? It means you need to search for keywords that have a higher return in the search engine but look for those words and terms that aren’t used much by larger companies. This way, there’ll be less competition for your targeted audience, and you’ll have a better chance of gaining a higher number of visitors.
Now you’re ready to use keyword optimisation on your site.
Keyword Optimisation Tips
What does keyword optimisation mean? Some people have the mistaken idea that keyword optimisation means using the keywords as many times as possible on the site, in content, etc. However, this has a term; it’s called keyword stuffing. You’ll need to avoid keyword stuffing, as this will cause Google to penalise your site, meaning you’ll have less traffic, if any.
We’re now getting into the meat of SEO (search engine optimisation). Keyword optimisation is how and where the words and phrases are used on the site. The goal is to keep keyword used as naturally as possible while avoiding keyword stuffing.
Here are the places to begin using your keywords on the site:
- At the beginning of your title tag
- In your meta description
- In the first 50 to 100 words of your content
Here are some additional ways to optimise your keywords:
- Use keywords in image alt tags, especially in the first image on the page
- In the page’s URL
- In at least one subheading
- 2-3 times (or more) throughout the content
As you can see, there’s no need to keyword stuff. There are plenty of ways to signal to the search engines and your target audience that you have the information they need.
Types of Keywords
There are different types of keywords you can use, which determine the types of visitors (traffic) you’ll have to the site. Let’s take a look:
Short-tail: these are generic keywords that help to signal the topic; however, they won’t impart any useful information. Examples of short-tail keywords include: “book”, “vacuum cleaner,” “shoes.” These words only give the name of the main topic but share no detailed information.
Competition for this type of keyword is usually extremely high, which means it will be very difficult to gain any traffic to your site.
Brand keywords: these are words and terms related to your brand of product. Examples include: “Dyson vacuum cleaner” (a specific brand of vacuums), “Harry Potter book” (specific book), etc.
While these are better than using generic, or short-tail, keywords, they still don’t specific the topic or bring in the kind of traffic you need and want on your site.
Broad keywords: these can be more helpful when it comes to gaining visitors to the site. These types of words give a little more indication of what the information will contain, which helps visitors make the decision to visit your site.
By this point, the searcher will have decided on what they need or want but may not have the complete idea yet. Examples of these keywords include: “Children’s books,” “Running shoes,” or “Upright vacuum cleaner.”
While these keywords are open to some interpretation, they still help the searcher to zero in on the specific information/product they need.
Exact Keywords: if a searcher is using exact keywords, they know what they’re looking for. This is a great type of keyword to optimize your site and content for because these tend to convert well, and will give you high search volumes, which usually translates into higher traffic. Examples of these words include: “Best running shoes,” “Vacuum cleaner reviews,” “Recommended children’s books.”
The problem with exact keywords, though, is that they tend to have high competition.
Long-tail keywords: long-tail keywords are great to use—some say this is the best type of keyword to use. Why? Because they generally have a higher conversion rate, which translates into more traffic for your site—traffic that’s targeted. Examples of these include: “Which children’s books are best for ages 12-14,” “Upright vacuum cleaner with retractable cord,” “Which running shoes are best for marathons.”
Long-tail keywords offer you a better balance between competition, traffic and conversion.
Buyer Keywords: these are keywords that have a specific word signalling the searcher that’s ready to make a purchase. Examples include: “Buy Adidas running shoes,” “Dyson vacuum cleaner discount,” “Children’s books coupons.”
Using buyer keywords is the right choice if you’re aiming at a target audience that’s ready to buy a specific item.
Tire Kicker Keywords: these are used to for those searchers who are not going to spend money. Why would you use this type of keywords? If you offer free products or samples, you offer an exchange for broken items, etc. Examples of these keywords include: “Download children’s books” (searchers are usually looking for a free download), “Free running shoes” (perhaps you’re giving away free samples), “Dyson vacuum cleaner exchange” (if you’re providing a new vacuum in exchange for an broken one).
Remember, when using this type of keywords, the benefit will be for the searcher, not you, unless this is part of your business model.
So how do you actually find good keywords to target?
Finding the right keywords that have a good balance between monthly searches and competition relies on accessing a keyword research tool. You may have heard of the likes of kwfinder and Google’s own research tool, however our current personal favourite is Twinword Ideas.
We’re big fans of this tool for a few reasons. First and foremost, the amount of information that you can find at the click of a button is staggering. From finding variations on your initial keyword, to competition and CPC data, Twinword is unrivalled. Secondly, we prefer the user interface over other competitors and finally, their free tier is incredibly generous compared to other available services. We highly recommend you check them out here.
Summing It Up
We’ve covered a lot of information in this article including what keywords are, why they’re important, why keyword research is essential in order for your business to succeed online.
We also took at look at how to properly optimise your site, without keyword stuffing. And you’ve learned about several different types of keywords and how to use them.
With all of this information, you’ll be able to set up a site and gain traffic from your target audience in no time.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent a decade working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.