K is for Keywords
Keywords are what your customers type into a search engine when they are looking for the products or services you offer.
Essentially, they are tags a search engine uses to file data, much the way a librarian files books. That’s why keywords are, well, key to any search engine optimization initiative. Your job is to find the words that will deliver relevant traffic to your site. “All search terms are not created equal,” points out Pole Position Marketing.
John Alexander, author of Wordtracker Magic and Wordtracker Magic 2.0 – Keyword Forensics, says you need to think like your potential customers when you’re developing keywords. For example, if you’ve developed a new type of house paint called Wonderstuff, that name is not what customers will search for. Instead, they’ll be looking for “waterproof house paint” or “house paint Tennessee.”
The best keywords are aimed at meeting the needs of your customers. As Treefrog Marketing writes: “If your customers can find you and your information is relevant to filling a need – you’ve just won a new customer.”
So how do you come up with the right keywords? And where’s a good place to look? There are plenty of keyword research tools available to help you in your quest. A few are free, such as Bing Keyword Research and Wordstream. Others, such as Moz Keyword Analysis and Wordtracker, require payment. Plus, you can find keywords or tags at the end of most blog posts, which can help you identify the words that are trendy. For more on keyword research tools, check out Kristi Hines’ blog post on iAquire.com.
A cautionary note: Search engines are constantly changing their analytics, and customers’ needs change, too. So you constantly have to revisit your keywords to stay abreast of what customers are searching for online.
Writing for Hongkiat.com, web designer and WordPress developer Steven Bradley advises you to
- Dump the industry jargon.
- Look for synonyms. For example, you might call it e-commerce. Potential clients might search for ecommerce.
- Add qualifiers. A real estate agent in Des Moines, Iowa, might add that qualifier to his or her website. A web designer might add the qualifier “services” to get “web design services.”
- Check your analytics package to see what phrases already are bringing people to your site, then consider similar phrases you can also rank well for.
Webconfs.com promotes longer keyword phrases. For a site about dogs, for example, it suggests alternatives such as “dog obedience training,” “small dog breeds,” “homemade dog food” or “dog food recipes.”
Don’t stuff too many keywords into your copy, either. Your content won’t read well, and search engines might penalize you for trying to game the system.
Once you have your keywords, you’ll want to create a plan of action. Yola.com uses the example of an organic chocolate business with the keywords: Chocolate truffles, organic chocolate, organic dark chocolate, health benefits of chocolate. Once you have those keywords, you can create specific landing pages for each of those keywords to attract the customers you want.
Clearly, you’ll have to do some homework to find the keywords that work best for you. But the effort will be well worth it when your website traffic increases.