Search engine optimization or SEO is one of the most effective strategies for online marketing. If you want more traffic for your website, then you owe it to yourself and your business to include SEO as part of your online marketing strategy.
Otherwise, you will miss opportunities to reach potential customers, and they’ll go to your competition instead.
More than 90% of online experiences start with a search engine and 75% of people never click past the first page of the search engine results. With these statistics in mind, you should quit wondering if SEO is the right fit for your business. IT is.
If you want to reach potential customers through search, then you need to understand SEO keywords. For today’s SEO 101 guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about SEO keywords.
What Are SEO Keywords?
Let’s start with the definition.
Keywords are the words or phrases that people use when searching through an online search engine. SEO keywords are the terms that you add to your online content to help improve its search engine rankings for those terms. Basically, it will help push your website to the top of the search engine results. Obviously, your main goal is for your website to appear on the first page of the results.
Search engines like Google and Bing are in the business of delivering the best, most relevant results to their users. With SEO keywords, you’re telling the search engines what your content is about and helping users find the information they need.
3 Reasons Why Keywords are Important for SEO
#1: Keywords Let Search Engines Know What You’re Up To
Whether you want to gain new customers, build brand awareness, or promote your products, keywords and SEO are an integral part of any website. However, it’s not just about using keywords as much as you can because that gets you on the bad side of search engine algorithms.
Search engines want to deliver the most relevant content to their users. These days, improving your SEO rank is about putting out high-quality, relevant, and useful content for your target audience.
Once your content has been published, search engines will break down your article or blog into words and phrases, each one becomes an individual search term. The search engine will then index your article. Whenever a person uses a search engine to find information, it will look into its index of web pages and identify the web pages that are most relevant to the query.
Therefore, you must be specific with your keywords.
Without the right keywords, search engines will have a hard time understanding the meaning of your content, which will result in less traffic to your web page.
#2: Keywords Help Attract More Traffic
If your website doesn’t get any traffic, what’s the point of having it? If you get no visitors to your website, how will you sell your product or service online? Keep in mind, people prefer to shop on the web these days. Without the right keywords, your website will suffer from reduced online visibility.
Even if you have a physical store, you still need to have a professional digital presence that represents your brand. People search the internet to learn what a business’s hours are, their locations and addresses, available inventory, and even their history. If they can’t get that information, they likely won’t plan a trip to the business.
When you optimize for the right SEO keywords, your online visibility will improve through organic searches. This is mainly because your web page will appear on the first page of search engine results and will likely attract visitors. These visitors are all potential customers that can bring you more business.
#3: Keyword Research Is a Must for SEO
As I mentioned, choosing the right keywords is essential for improving your site’s ranking. If you want to target the right keywords for SEO, keyword research should have a place in your strategy. Most beginners in online marketing make some common mistakes when researching keywords:
- Doing keyword research only once
- NOT updating or expanding the SEO keywords list
- Targeting broad and very popular keywords that are too competitive
Essentially, keyword research should be an ongoing and evolving part of your overall marketing strategy. All of your old keywords should be reevaluated from time to time and very broad, competitive keywords should be replaced with more specific ones. These specific keywords or phrases may not bring in as much traffic but it will bring you the right visitors that are also potential customers.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of keyword research tools that you can use for your SEO campaign like Google’s Keyword Planner. You should leverage these tools to help you identify the best and most relevant keywords—ones that will drive traffic and conversions to your website. If you have no experience using these tools, an experienced SEO agency can help you out.
5 Types of SEO Keywords You Should Know
#1: Generic/Broad Keywords
This type of keyword is simply a search query that serves to isolate a topic. It’s a very general keyword for a general topic—there’s nothing particular about it. Examples of this type of keywords are:
- Cleaning spray
These keywords are also considered “short tail” keywords since they are usually composed of 2-3 words and don’t feature a “head” or “tail” as qualifiers. In SEO, it’s a common practice to stay away from generic keywords due to these reasons:
- The biggest companies and manufacturers will be competing for these keywords.
- Generic keywords usually don’t convey the searcher’s intent (Do they just want information? Do they want to buy?).
- Ranking for generic keywords takes a lot of money and hard work. It’s not usually worth it for small to medium-sized businesses.
Imagine being a small, brand-new company that has to compete with the likes of Macy’s and Amazon for the search term “women dresses.” Ranking for these types of keywords is practically impossible.
#2: Branded Keywords
Branded keywords refer to a particular brand or product that the user is searching for. This is a step up from generic keywords but the user’s intent is still unclear. Some examples of branded keywords are:
- Nike running shoes
- Samsung smart tv
- Dell laptop
- Dyson portable vacuum
Again, the user’s intent is not clear since these keywords could indicate that they are might be looking for information, like product specifications or tech support resources. These keywords are still less than ideal because unless you’re working with that brand, you’ll be in direct competition with them.
#3: Long Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are more like phrases or even sentences. The main characteristic of long-tail keywords is that they’re very specific and targeted. According to a study by the New York-based SEO & SaaS company Conductor, long-tail keywords are 2.5 times more likely to convert than head terms, with or without optimization.
Long-tail keywords tend to have:
- Less competition
- Lower search volume
- Highest conversion rate
That’s right! Even though long-tail keywords have lower search volume, it’s typically better to use them than using short-tail keywords. This is because the long tail keyword searchers will convert at a much higher rate. It’s also a lot easier to rank for specific long-tail keywords. Some examples of long-tail keywords are:
- Converse all star white womens shoes
- What is the best whey protein powder
- Which are the best shoes for triathlons
- Guns n roses concert tickets seattle wa
Long-tail keywords hit the sweet spot between search volume, traffic, competition, and conversions. When a user finds your website using long-tail keywords, it means that they really want to be there.
#4: Buyer/Transactional Keywords
As the name suggests, these are keywords used by people who are ready and willing to make a buying decision. This keyword type can be identified by the term that comes before or after the keyword. Here are some examples of buyer keywords:
- Buy power bank for iphone
- Nintendo switch games deals
- Smart fitness watch sale
- Baby stroller car seat discount
As you can see, these keywords indicate that the user has a high buying intent. These keywords can be targeted but it depends on your type of business.
#5: Informational Keywords
Informational keywords are exactly what the name suggests—keywords that are used to gain information on a specific topic. Informational keywords have massive search volume but they tend to have a low conversion rate.
With that said, informational keywords are important because they can help you attract new audience members at the start of their research. If you manage to capture their attention at this point by putting out content that’s focused at the top of the sales funnel, you’ll be able to build a strong relationship and trust with your target audience.
Informational keywords tend to include the terms below:
- How to
- Ways to
- Best way to
- I need to
While informational keywords don’t always convert and are very competitive, using them can help draw attention to your company or brand. The sale might not be guaranteed, but it can increase the likelihood of conversion down the line.
5 Keyword Research Tips to Optimize Your SEO Campaign
As mentioned, keyword research is not something that you do once and you’re done. It’s an ongoing process that needs to be reevaluated and updated to ensure that you’re keeping up with SEO trends. Here are some keyword research tips to help take your SEO to a whole new level.
1. Create Localized Keyword Groups
For small to medium-sized businesses, the best keyword research tip is to create a list of localized keywords and phrases. The point is to target potential customers who are within your local area and close to your physical store. Having said that, the best way to accomplish this is to create content that includes localized keywords that a nearby customer might use while conducting a local search.
Begin by researching keywords that include your local area. For example, if you have a roofing business in local Tampa, you can use “Tampa roofing” or “roofing in Tampa”. Afterward, you can start targeting the surrounding/nearby cities from where you operate. Keep in mind, if you’re going to target the surrounding cities, it pays to do keyword research in these regions.
Targeting localized keywords might get you less traffic but this puts your company or brand in front of local customers with strong buyer’s intent.
2. Check Out the Competition
Another essential small business marketing tip that you should consider is to check out your competition and evaluate what they’re doing. For starters, look at the keywords that your competition is using. Knowing which keywords your competitors are using can give you an edge and help you target the right customers.
When looking up your competition, don’t just target the keywords with the highest search volume. This is because a higher search volume doesn’t necessarily mean a higher number of clicks. Conversely, it would be better to target keywords with low competition, like those with at least a thousand searches monthly.
3. Use Google Suggest
Google Suggest is not just for providing users a better experience, it can also be a great tool for your local search marketing campaign, specifically for finding additional keywords.
Whenever you type a keyword or phrase in the search bar, Google Suggest will pop up and supply a list of similar and relevant terms below. Take note of these keywords from Google Suggest because it’s a new set of keywords that you can target.
Google Suggest is a very valuable keyword research tool because it gives you an insight into your customer’s search behavior. Google picks this information up in an effort to provide users with the best experience. In some cases, you may even find negative things that people say about your business, which can be an invaluable insight.
4. Answer Common Customer Questions
If you can answer the most common questions that your customers have, it can help you build a strong relationship and trust with your audience. With that said, the idea is to identify the most common questions or concerns that your customers have and to develop content around them. Doing so will improve your chances of reaching and engaging your target customers who are looking for that information through search engines.
There are many ways to help you find out the most common concerns or questions people have about your industry, product, or service. One strategy that makes sense is to ask your customers directly. You can conduct a survey through your social media channels or your website.
Alternatively, if you have a sales team, you can ask them about customer concerns since they’re dealing with them directly. Trust me, they don’t have a shortage of customer questions and concerns for you to address.
5. Use Answer the Public Tool
Another great tool that you can use for keyword research is Answer The Public. It’s a very clever keyword and content idea tool that combines the suggested searches from Google and Bing and presents them visually as a search cloud.
The results are categorized into what, how, where, and why—this gives you an overview of the questions the consumers are typing into their favorite search engines.
Why is it such a valuable tool for keyword research and overall SEO? Below are the top reasons why:
- It helps you gain more information about your target audience and what keeps them up at night.
- It helps with the optimization of long-tail keywords and phrases.
- It helps you focus your keyword research.
- It helps you answer the right questions that might help you secure a Google Featured Snippet.
Answer The Public works in the same principle as Google Suggest but I think it’s a lot more comprehensive, but still impressively easy to use. All you need to do is simply enter a keyword or phrase and hit the ‘Get Questions’ button. Then, you’ll be presented with the results, which you can easily download as a CSV file.
Need Help with SEO Keywords?
This concludes my comprehensive guide on SEO keywords and keyword research. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of SEO keywords.
Proper use of keywords and keyword research are the backbone of your SEO strategy. In a highly crowded digital marketing landscape, you need every advantage that you can get. Understanding SEO keywords and keyword research gives you a better chance of putting your business or brand in front of your ideal audience.
Just remember that keyword research is an ever-evolving task and not just a one-time deal only. As your business grows, your focus changes as well. From time to time, you’ll need to revisit your keyword strategy and adjust or replace the components that aren’t working for you anymore.
Founder and CEO
Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal has recently earned him the honor of being selected as a member of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list by Georgia State University as well as 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year,and the Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).