Search Engine Optimization is like running a marathon. No matter when you start, you have to continuously run to overtake the others and be among the top 10 contenders, with the first position obviously being the most coveted one. Even when you’re at the Number One position you cannot slow down your pace, for someone may overtake you even before you realize it! Thus, inarguably, ranking on the first page of a search engine results page (SERP) isn’t enough; ranking in the top 3 results makes a lot of difference since the number of visitors keep on dropping considerably as we move south. As a matter of fact, less than 25% of people visiting the first page go up to Page 4 of search results. That’s why, SEO needs to be a continued process; you cannot stop optimizing your website just because you reached your desired position.
One of the key drivers of SEO is keywords; if you overlook it, it’s a sure shot recipe for SEO disaster. Though you may understand the basics of keywords, you perhaps aren’t sure how to make the best use of it, or possibly a lot of technicalities and jargons have left you puzzled. Today, we’ll help you understand the different terminologies associated with keywords and how to use keywords to boost your business website’s SEO ranking.
First thing you may want to understand is why keywords are important. Well, here’s the answer to it: Google collects information about different websites mainly by sending “spiders” to “crawl” them (in simple words — scan them) and look for keywords in the textual and multimedia content. Based on the keywords the spiders see on a webpage — in the page title, meta description, headlines, main content, images, etc. — Google deciphers what the webpage or website is all about. Accordingly, it ranks the website whenever there’s a relevant search. Thus, keywords play a significant role in helping Google understand what your website is all about. That’s why keywords need to be carefully chosen and included in the website content. They are a useful marketing asset which, if used well, have the potential to bring in prospective customers to your website.
Keywords, more specifically, head terms are very generic and short. On the other hand, long tail keywords are longer and more specific. Suppose you own a footwear store in Zurich, the head terms would revolve around regular synonyms for footwear in addition to the location — for example, Shoe stores in Zurich. But if you include a string of keywords that are rather specific — for example, Nike Men’s Sports Shoes Size 11 — you’ve used a long tail keyword. Because they are very specific, long tail keywords often help searchers looking for a specific item easily find what they’re looking for. Including such long tail keywords in your textual and multimedia content help a great deal in bringing to your site relevant visitors who are likelier to make a purchase.
Before delving further into keywords, you need to first understand how search engines function and rank different websites for different searches; check out our previous blog for a lowdown on it. It will also give you tips on how to boost search engine ranking whilst telling you about the several factors that influence SERP.
Coming back to choosing the right keywords for a business website, the process begins with ‘keyword research’. Here, you need to understand the kind of terminologies searchers generally use to search for things related to your business. While there are several online tools that can help you find keywords, their suggestions could be pretty generic. So, it’s better you put in some extra effort and manually figure out the keywords suitable for your business.
How to manually search keywords for your business
Here’s Phase 1 of how to go about it:
- First, list down the topics most relevant to your business, and then head terms and long tail keywords relevant to each of those topics — eg. For us, it would be Web designers in Toronto or Affordable website designers in Toronto.
- Then, go to Google and type out each of those keywords.
- At the end of the result page, you’ll see a ‘Related searches’ section; from here, you can draw other keywords that you think your potential customers may search.
Phase 2 involves seeking help from family and/or friends to get a layman’s perspective. Here’s how you go about it:
Suppose you own a jewelry store. You tell your sister or female friend to use different keywords to search for something pertaining to jewelry. Based on the keywords she used, you’ll be able to draw a few more keywords.
Repeat the exercise with a male as well. That will tell you a guy’s perspective as well while searching for jewelry online.
Similarly, repeat the exercise with different people and gather the keywords they use.
Filter the keywords used based on how relevant you think they are to what you have to offer. Based on this, draw your final set of keywords.
The goal is to generate a list of relevant keywords to optimize your site, include in your meta title and description, and craft your blog posts.
Over a period of time, search engines will understand what your site is about, and show it as a search engine result whenever there’s a relevant search. As your SEO efforts continue, your website will steadily climb up the SEO ladder, thereby showing an improvement in the quality and quantity of visitors.
Ideal keyword density for SEO
For the uninitiated, keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page. While there is no ideal keyword density, it is essential to refrain from keyword stuffing. What is keyword stuffing, you may wonder. Here’s an example to help you understand:
Are you looking for romantic greeting cards? We sell romantic greeting cards. Give your loved one romantic greeting cards today. View our romantic greeting cards now!
Notice how the words ‘romantic greeting cards’ have been repeated to an extent that it felt forcefully inserted? This is called keyword stuffing. Some believe that stuffing their content with keywords multiple times will help boost their website’s SEO, but sadly that’s not how Google functions. Write for humans, not for spiders — that’s what even Google wants you to do.
Where to use keywords to boost SEO
Where the keywords are used — and not used, for that matter — also affects your website’s SEO. So, here’s a guide on where to insert keywords:
- Web page title
To understand what web page title is, hover your mouse on the top of a browser tab. The text you see there (check out the reference we’ve shared below) is what search engines take notice of first. So make sure the keywords used convey well what the page is all about. For example, we design websites for small businesses at an affordable price; this is exactly what our web page title conveys.
Let’s be honest here — how many times have you quickly scanned through a web page looking for something that is of interest to you? Similarly, most visitors are either in a hurry or simply too lazy to read everything given on a web page. That’s why you need to bring different sub-topics on a page to their attention explicitly. Similar is the case with search engines. That’s why it is suggested that you use keywords in headlines and highlight them by changing their style to H1, H2, or even H3; like here ‘Where to use keywords’ is highlighted. This helps visitors and search engines alike to understand what you’re talking about, at a glance.
The main content is where most websites engage in keyword stuffing. However, as we mentioned above, it’s essential to steer clear of inserting keywords anywhere and everywhere. Instead, you need to plug in keywords seamlessly without making it evident that you’re trying to capture the attention of search engine spiders. Also, include your primary keyword in the first paragraph of a page/blog since it helps SEO.
Keyword search volume vs competition
This aspect of SEO plays a big role in how your website ranks. But first let’s understand what search volume is and what competition is, in SEO language.
In simple words, keyword search volume is the number of searches for a particular keyword in a specific period of time. But why is keyword search volume important, you may wonder. Well, that’s because it’s important to use keywords that people are looking for, the ones with a higher search volume. If you insert keywords that people aren’t using on search engines, no one will spot you organically. However, the catch here is that higher the search volume, tougher is the competition. Since keywords with a higher search volume have better exposure, there are several websites using them to show up on search engines. This could probably translate to you competing with several well-established sites for those keywords. That’s why you need to maintain a fine balance between keywords with a high search volume and those with a low search volume — this will help balance out the competition as well.
Miscellaneous tips to use keywords for SEO
- Decide your keywords beforehand
Whether it’s website content or a blog, every web page needs a separate list of keywords; decide those keywords before you start writing. This will help you craft SEO-driven content diligently.
- Try keyword stemming
Keyword stemming involves adding a prefix, suffix or pluralization of a popular keyword pertaining to your website in order to add variations of the keyword on a page. This can help you get more visitors to your website.
For example: If you were to try keyword stemming for the word ‘sell’, you could use the words selling, seller, sells and/or resell.
- Pay attention to keyword proximity
Suppose your keyword is ‘buy laptop online’; you may use ‘Buy XYZ laptop at best prices online’ in your headline. Here, the keyword proximity between ‘buy’ and ‘laptop’ is one word, while it is three words between ‘laptop’ and ‘online’. Though ideally the keywords must be at close proximity to each other, at times it is not viable since it hampers the readability or fluency.
We hope this blog helped you understand how to use keywords, where to use them, and the dos and don’ts of keyword insertion for SEO. Follow the above-mentioned tips to empower the keyword leg of your SEO efforts.
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