What are Keywords?

Keywords, also called “keyphrases” are specific words or phrases that people use when searching for information, products, or services on search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. 

Why are keywords important?

Optimizing your content for the keywords that an audience is searching for can increase your position in the SERP for those keywords.

Ranking higher in the SERP will increase traffic to your site. Choosing the right keywords to optimize content for is the basis of any SEO strategy.

How to Find Keywords

Start with Your Audience

Before a single keyword graces your spreadsheet, think about your audience. Who are they? What problems are they looking to solve? What language do they use? These questions pave the way for keyword ideas that resonate. After all, the ultimate aim is to solve a problem or fulfill a need for your users. Missing the mark here could render even the most exhaustive keyword list useless.

Brainstorm Keywords

Make a list of words and phrases that you think people might use when searching for your products, services, or information related to your business.

Competitor Research

Analyze your competitors' websites and marketing materials to see which keywords they are targeting. There are various tools available for competitive keyword analysis, such as SEMrush and Ahrefs.

Leverage Your Existing Content

Don't overlook the goldmine that is your existing content. Analyze your current website and blog analytics to see what's already drawing attention. This isn't just smart—it's efficient. It allows you to identify keywords you're already ranking for and create a plan to improve those rankings.

Keyword Research Tools

Use keyword research tools to expand your list and gather data on the keywords you've brainstormed. Some popular keyword research tools include:

  • Google Keyword Planner: Provides keyword suggestions, search volume data, and competition levels.
  • SEMrush: Offers comprehensive keyword data and competitor analysis.
  • Ahrefs: Provides insights into keyword difficulty and backlink data.
  • Ubersuggest: A free tool that offers keyword suggestions and search volume data.

Long-Tail Keywords

Keywords can be generic and broad, or they can be quite narrow and specific. These longer, specific searches are called long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords typically have a lower search volume and are therefore less competitive and easier to rank for. These specific, often question-based, keyword phrases bring in traffic from audiences that are generally further down the purchase funnel, making them prime candidates for conversion.

Qualities of a Keyword

Search Volume

Search volume refers to the number of times a particular keyword or key phrase is searched for on search engines over a given period (e.g., monthly). It indicates how popular or in-demand a keyword is among users.

High-search-volume keywords can potentially bring more organic traffic to your website. However, they are often more competitive, making it harder to rank for them. Low-search-volume keywords may have less competition but might not bring as much traffic.

Keyword Difficulty

Keyword difficulty measures how challenging it is to rank for a specific keyword. It considers the competition, backlinks, and authority of websites currently ranking for that keyword.

High-difficulty keywords are fiercely competitive, and it may take considerable effort and time to rank for them. Low-difficulty keywords are easier to target and can be a good starting point, especially if you have a new or low-authority website.

CPC (Cost Per Click):

CPC is a metric often associated with pay-per-click advertising. It represents the cost advertisers are willing to pay each time a user clicks on an ad triggered by a specific keyword.

High CPC values for a keyword can indicate strong commercial intent. If you're running paid advertising campaigns, focusing on keywords with higher CPCs might be profitable. However, it can also mean more competition in the advertising space.

User Intent:

User intent is the reason behind a user's search query and can be identified in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). It can be categorized into informational, navigational, or transactional intent. Informational intent seeks knowledge, navigational intent aims to find a specific page or website, and transactional intent indicates a desire to make a purchase or take a specific action.

Understanding user intent is crucial. You should align your keyword selection with the intent behind your target audience's searches. If users are looking for information, provide valuable content. If they intend to make a purchase, focus on keywords that lead to conversion.

When thinking about these keyword qualities, it's important to strike a balance in your keyword strategy:

  • High-search-volume keywords may be desirable, but they often come with high keyword difficulty and competition. Choose a mix of high and low-volume keywords to diversify your strategy.
  • Keyword difficulty should align with your website's authority and your SEO capabilities. It's often beneficial to target a range of difficulty levels.
  • CPC can be a critical factor in pay-per-click advertising. High CPC keywords can be lucrative, but you should also consider your budget and competition.
  • User intent should guide your content creation. Tailor your content to meet the specific needs and goals of users behind their search queries.

Go Beyond Google

Consider Voice Search and Mobile Queries

The rise of voice-activated devices like smart speakers and the ubiquitous use of mobile phones have redefined how people search. These queries tend to be longer, more conversational, and sometimes even more urgent. Catering to this dynamic can help you tap into a whole new audience segment.

Use Social Media and Forums

Don't limit your keyword research to search engines and dedicated tools. Social media platforms and forums like Reddit or industry-specific message boards can be goldmines for keyword ideas. These platforms allow you to see how your audience talks about your industry, product, or service in a more natural setting, giving you authentic language to incorporate.

Explore Other Search Engines

Google may dominate the search landscape, but it's not the only player in the game. Other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and even YouTube have their unique algorithms and user bases. Diversifying your keyword strategy to include these platforms can potentially open up new avenues for traffic and conversions.

Where to Use Keywords for SEO

In SEO (Search Engine Optimization), keywords are strategically used throughout your website and its content to make it more visible and relevant to search engines like Google. Here are the primary places where you should use keywords for SEO:

Title Tag: Include your primary target keyword in the title tag of your web page. This is one of the most critical on-page SEO elements.

Meta Description: Craft a meta description that contains relevant keywords and encourages users to click on your link in search results.

Headers: Use your keywords in headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to structure your content and make it more accessible to both search engines and users.

Content: Integrate keywords naturally throughout your content, including in the introduction, body, and conclusion. Avoid keyword stuffing, which can harm your SEO efforts. Focus on providing valuable and informative content that addresses the user's intent.

URL Structure: Optimize your URL structure by including keywords. Keep URLs short, descriptive, and easy to read.

Image Alt Text: When using images on your web pages, include keyword-rich alt text in the HTML code. This is essential for SEO and accessibility.


What Is Keyword Intent and Why Is It Important?

Keyword intent refers to the underlying goal a user has when conducting a search query. Understanding this intent is crucial for matching your content to what the user is actually looking for, thereby increasing the likelihood of higher rankings and conversions.

How Often Should I Update My Keyword List?

The digital marketplace is ever-evolving, making it essential to regularly update your keyword list. While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, a quarterly review is a good starting point, especially for dynamic industries.

Can I Overoptimize My Content with Keywords?

Yes, this phenomenon is known as keyword stuffing, and search engines penalize it. The focus should be on creating high-quality, relevant content that incorporates keywords naturally.

How Do Seasonal Trends Affect Keyword Performance?

Seasonal trends can dramatically alter search volumes for certain keywords. Being aware of this allows you to capitalize on heightened interest during specific periods.

What Are Negative Keywords in PPC?

Negative keywords are terms that prevent your ads from being triggered, thereby saving you from wasted ad spend on irrelevant clicks.

Should I Target High-Volume Keywords Only?

Not necessarily. High-volume keywords often come with high competition. Sometimes, low-volume, high-intent keywords can offer a better ROI.

How Do Localized Keywords Differ from General Keywords?

Localized keywords are tailored for a specific geographical area and are essential for businesses aiming to capture local markets. They often include place names or local jargon.

Are Long-Tail Keywords Easier to Rank For?

Generally, yes. Long-tail keywords are more specific, which often means less competition. They also tend to attract users who are further along in the buying cycle.

How Can I Use LSI Keywords Effectively?

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords should be used to supplement your primary keywords. They add context to your content and help search engines understand its relevance to the query.

What Metrics Should I Consider When Analyzing Keywords?

Beyond search volume and keyword difficulty, consider metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI to evaluate the true value of a keyword to your business.