What Are Keywords & Why Are They Important?
Keywords are the words or phrases that online users type into a search engine, like Google, to find results. By aligning the content of your website with relevant keywords of your target audience, it’s possible to appear, or rank, in search engine results, earning your website more traffic and more business.
How Can I Determine Which Keywords to Focus On?
There are a few factors to keep in mind while choosing keywords to target on your website, whether your set of keywords is fairly simple or complex.
1) Relevance and Searcher Intent
An important component to keep in mind when choosing keywords is relevance/searcher intent. The owner of a dental practice may use the phrase “dental supplies” when referring to their practice needs, but when a patient types the same phrase into a search engine, we primarily see things like toothpaste and toothbrushes. For this reason, it’s important to stay up to date by checking search engine result pages (SERPs), forums, competitors, and other tools to understand the language that your audience uses.
As another example, when someone does a search for “orthodontist”, the examples that are likely to show are going to be more related to what an orthodontist is. However, when someone searches for “orthodontist” along with a descriptor like location, the search results are going to show them local orthodontists.
It is best to focus your time and energy on keywords that will result in direct interest in the content on your website.
2) Traffic Potential and Rankability
A balance exists between finding keywords that cast a large enough net but are also achievable. By using online tools like Google Keyword Planner, it’s possible to find the search volume (average online searches per month) of keywords and phrases to better make decisions.
If you operate a business that sells and installs solar panels for homes, you might think that “solar panels” is an appropriate keyword to target for your website, but a keyword that is too broad can be near impossible to rank for. There are around 201 thousand searches monthly in the US for “solar panels,” and the results include cost-savings information, guides, government resources, businesses, and more. As we learned in the previous section, not only is it difficult to understand the searcher’s intent when they type “solar panels” into a search bar, but it’s also such a competitive phrase that it might not be worth the enormous amount of time and energy to attempt to rank for that keyword. This is where long-tail keywords come in.
A long-tail keyword is a more descriptive keyword with less search volume (fewer searches performed monthly). A long-tail keyword that could work in this example is “solar panel installation service.” This keyword and surrounding topics sees around 380 searches per month in the US, so it’s less competitive and easier to rank for. There’s also less confusion about what the searcher is looking for through this phrase.
Casting a smaller net in a more relevant area can earn you more traffic for your website with less effort.
3) Ability to Create Content Surrounding the Topic
Google’s crawler bots search through websites daily, indexing them based on the content present on their pages. This is how search engines deliver relevant results to searchers.
In order to rank for a keyword, content must be in place on your website involving that keyword. For this reason, it must be possible and sensical to write about or create content on your website surrounding the keywords that you choose.
Targeting the keyword phrase, “teeth whitening by dentist” could bring a generic teeth whitening website more traffic but those people will only be converted if the teeth whitening is, in fact, offered by a dental practitioner. If they find the website has inaccurate information based on what they were searching for, they will not stay on the website and will continue to look elsewhere.
By ensuring that your keywords are attainable, relevant to your audience, and that content can be written surrounding your topics, you can choose keywords for your SEO strategy that make sense for your business goals.
—Erin Feret, SEO Specialist, Sesame Communications