wooden tiles spelling out keywords

What are Keywords and Why are they Important?

I wanted to write a post explaining why keywords are important (and what they actually are). And I wanted to do so for copywriting clients who feel a little lost when keywords are mentioned in website discussions.  Copywriters and web designers who specialise in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) often forget that keywords aren’t something that clients are familiar with. The layperson’s understanding of “keywords” and the technical meaning are slightly different.

What are Keywords

Keywords are the words that people type into a search engine like Google to find what they are looking for. They can refer to a single word or a longer phrase.

Google is pretty amazing. It takes the words people type in and then searches through its database of billions of pages to find one that has what they are looking for. As a business you want people to find your website. But here’s the tricky part. How does Google decide which website to show to a person? If a person is looking for a builder, how does Google decide which out of the thousands of building sites, they want?

Ranking on Google

This is the reason keywords are so important. Google (and other search engines) use keywords to help match a person’s search term with what they are looking for (their intended purpose).

The more specific the search term, the better the match. For example, if you type in the word plumber, Google won’t know where you want this plumber or what you need them for, so you may not get a good match. But if you type in plumber Camden or emergency plumber Camden Google has more of an idea what your intention is. And can then deliver results that match.

From a business perspective, you want your website to rank organically on the first page of a person’s search. Ideally, you want to be in one of the top 3 spots. Organic results get 75% of clicks, as most people skip over the paid ads.

But there’s no use ranking for a keyword that doesn’t match your product or service. The point of getting a person to your site is to have them spend money with you. So ranking for the keyword emergency plumber Camden when you don’t make emergency out of hours calls would be pointless. A person would land on your page and leave because you’re not offering what they need.

Why is Keyword Research Needed?

Some clients say they have the keywords I’ll need to optimise their site. But I have to ask how they came up with those keywords. You can provide the keywords I need to optimise your site if you have done the research to determine which keywords are best to use. Plucking keywords out of your head, no matter how well you think you know your industry or your customers, is a bit hit and miss.

Keyword research is something that takes a considerable amount of time. While I sometimes do my own keyword research, I often outsource to a specialist keyword researcher who can crunch all the numbers for me and deliver a report on her findings. I then share that report with clients and we can make an informed decision about how to proceed.

When a person does keyword research, they come up with phrases they think their ideal client will be typing into Google. But is your customer really using those words? It’s actually quite surprising to see what people are searching for. There are a number of keyword research tools that we use to find out if a particular keyword is being searched for, how often on average it is being searched for every month and more importantly how difficult it is to rank for that keyword.

Everyone wants a keyword that has a high search volume and is easy to rank for. But that is very rare. Often we have to make decisions and find a balance between the two. A low search volume isn’t a bad thing if it’s hitting your target audience and they spend money with you. But there’s no point ranking for a keyword that hardly anybody is searching for if those few searches don’t result in a sale.

How are Keywords Used?

Once we’ve decided on a keyword for a particular website page (you have to have separate keywords for each page), I can then write optimised copy. This means I write copy that showcases your brand and gives people the information they need, while strategically weaving in the keyword.

Once upon a time, people would stuff a page with a keyword they wanted to rank for. But Google caught wind of this. These days the search engine giant is much more clever. It can tell whether a page makes sense and whether the keyword is appropriate for it.

Keywords are One Part of the SEO Puzzle

Keywords are important because when researched properly and implemented correctly, they help your page to rank in Google searches. But keywords alone won’t result in a ranking. Your web designer will have to ensure that your site is built correctly and works in a fast manner, so that Google is actually able to crawl it and index it. Building backlinks and page authority will also help you outrank similar sites to your own.

There are no guarantees with SEO. Even Google has made the statement that nobody can guarantee you a number 1 ranking. This is because there are so many factors that affect whether a site ranks – including an ever-changing algorithm that nobody is privy to.

Keywords are not an exact science. It’s all about making educated decisions based on the research data.

I would love to help you optimise your site. To find out more or to ask a question about keywords, please get in touch.


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