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What Are Keywords, and How Do they Affect My Site’s SEO?

Matt Brady
#Digital Marketing, #Inbound Marketing, #SEO
Published on December 31, 2014

Learn all about keywords and how doing keyword research is an essential part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

In any community of experts, the language people use to discuss their subjects can become insular and difficult to understand for outsiders or novices. The world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no exception; if you spend any time reading blogs or articles on the subject, you might struggle to understand what people are talking about when they mention things like SERPs, backlinks, on-page optimization, or referrals. One particular term that might seem obvious is “keywords,” but it can actually be more complicated that you might expect. Let’s look at what keywords are and how they affect your SEO:

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are the terms that people use to search for the information they want to find using search engines like Google or Bing. When somebody searches for a certain term, the search engine looks at the most relevant websites related to that term and returns a list of results. This is why SEO is important: if you want to make sure your site is included in search results for keywords related to your company or organization, you need to make sure your site is optimized for those keywords. This means you need to do keyword research.

How Do I Do Keyword Research?

Keyword research helps you not only understand what search terms are leading people to your site, but it can also help you learn about what people are searching for that is related to your organization, so you can optimize your site to make sure people can find you.

You’ve probably set up Google Analytics on your site to track its traffic and monitor how your visitors are using it. You can use Google Analytics to see what search terms are leading people to your site, which will help you understand what current keywords are working for you. Along with Google Analytics, you also have access to Google’s Keyword Planner, which you can use to find other keywords that people search for that are related to your organization.

In addition to Google’s Keyword Planner, there are a number of other tools available for keyword research, although many of them do require additional payment to use. One that we particularly recommend is SEMrush, which not only shows you what keywords your site ranks for and provides suggestions for additional keywords, it lets you see exactly where you rank related to your competitors and gives you a great deal of information about search volume and keyword competitiveness.

One other thing to consider when doing keyword research is long-tail keywords. While it might be hard to rank highly in searches for a certain general keyword, people also search for longer, more specific keywords that might be perfect for you to target. For example, if you are an auto parts distributor, it may be difficult to receive high rankings in searches for “auto parts”, since the top results for that search will be related to major manufacturers and retailers. However, you may be able to rank highly for a more specific search, like “auto parts distributors in Aurora Illinois”. Targeting these specific long-tail keywords can help you reach people who are more likely to become actual customers.

What Do I Do With This Information?

Keyword research gives you a great deal of information about how people find your site and what they are searching for, but in order to get the most out of this data, you need to act on it and make sure people can find your site. You’ll want to make sure you are optimizing your content for the keywords you want to target. Here are some tips for making sure your content is optimized for the keywords you want to target:

  • Include the keyword in the title of your blog post, article, or page.
  • Include the keyword in the body of the page.
  • Include the keyword in the page’s URL.
  • Don’t overuse the keyword. Including keywords in your content too many times can be considered “spammy” and reduce your search rankings.

In addition to seeing how people are finding your site and making sure the content you create is optimized for the keywords you want to target, performing a content audit can help you see what content you already have that can be optimized for your keywords. It’s a good idea to regularly revisit your content and see if you are able to update it to make sure it is relevant to the searches that people are performing based on the research you’ve done.

While it might seem fairly simple to make sure your site targets the keywords that you want to reach based on what you think people are searching for, optimizing your site for keywords can be more complicated than you might think. Regularly performing keyword research to see what you can do to reach more people and provide the best content for your audience is essential for maximizing your site’s SEO. Do you have any questions about how to get started with keyword research and optimization? Do you want to know more about how our SEO services can help you drive more traffic to your site? Please contact us to speak to a SEO expert, or feel free to leave any questions in the comments below.