SEO for Business (Part 2): What are Keywords?
In my previous article I gave an overview of what SEO is. In this one, I will take a closer look at a very important aspect of it that I only briefly mentioned last time: keywords.
Before I begin explaining what keywords are and how you can find and use them, let’s assume that you have already taken the following steps for your business:
1. Opened a Google My Business account
2. Created a Website
If you haven’t, you can go back to the first article to find out more about why these are important first steps to take.
Now, let’s look at keywords.
What are Keywords?
In SEO, keywords are words or phrases that enable people searching to find your website or post.
For example, if you are a hairdressers, it is important to mention the word ‘hairdresser’ (or ‘hair salon’) on your website. It’s also important that you mention all of the services you provide, such as ‘blow drying’, ‘hair dying’, etc.
This is all quite obvious, especially with regards to the main description of your business and services. However, once you look a bit closer, you will find there are other keywords you might not have thought of that need including.
It is important to find and use these because they will help more customers find you.
For example, you might only have listed ‘blow drying’, but someone is searching specifically for ‘blow drying for curly hair’ or ‘blow drying for thin hair’. In this case, a website (your rival) that uses these keywords will have an advantage over you.
How to do ‘keyword research’ for free
To find less obvious keywords, there are a number of free and paid tools you can use.
The first and simplest free tool is Google itself.
When you enter a keyword from your industry into Google it automatically gives you a list of auto-complete suggestions. When I write ‘plumber’ I immediately see: ‘plumber near me’, ‘plumber London’, ‘plumber salary’ etc.
If I was a plumber creating a plumbing website, I would then look through this list and see which of these auto-complete terms is useful to me. (Obviously, ‘plumber salary’ is not something my customers are likely searching.)
In this instance, I would select the location (‘Plumber London’) and add it on my site, by inserting some text like this: ‘I am a London-based plumber…’ (as you can see, keywords don’t always have to be in the exact order they are searched. It would be unnatural to simply write ‘Plumber London’ on your website even though this is the phrase that is being searched).
Another way to find keywords through Google is to look at high-ranking competitors webpages. Let’s say you own a bakery: your first step is to search ‘Bakery near me’ and see whose website ranks highest in the search results (which in itself is proof that they are doing something right and so worth emulating).
Next, go through this rival’s website and look out for any keywords you haven’t already thought of. I just did this and found within seconds found references to ‘sourdough’ ‘chocolate valentines’, ‘Chocolate and pecan’, etc.
You don’t need to rely on one site. Try also looking at site’s for businesses in more competitive areas. A high-ranking website for a bakery based in central London will likely be much more keyword-rich than one in a small village. To find these, simply search ‘bakery’ + ‘[location name]’.
Aside from Google itself and rival websites, some other tools you can use for free keyword research include: Google trends, WordTracker, Keyword Surfer (a plug-in for Chrome), WordStream.
Paid keyword tools
Paid SEO tools, such as Ahrefs, Semrush and Moz (amongst others), provide powerful keyword research tools.
Paid tools often cost between 75 – 100 pound a month. However, many of them do have free 7-day trials. So, if you are interested in doing even better keyword research than you can do with free tools, it is worth trying them out. (Just be sure to cancel them before the trial period is up if you won’t be regularly using them!).
Paid tools give you more keyword suggestions and more detailed suggestions. They will tell you, for instance, what the search volume is for a particular for, or what ‘keyword difficulty’ it has.
A high keyword difficulty means it is hard to rank for that word or phrase. Generally speaking, most new websites want to begin by focusing on ranking for easier keywords before they are ready to rank for harder ones. This is because you need to accumulate ‘site authority’ over time to have a better chance to rank for more difficult words.
Where to put your keywords
Once you have a list of keywords, your next step is to place them on your site in a natural and coherent way. You can do this by adding new sections and descriptions to various pages or editing the material you already have to accommodate them.
Don’t be afraid about adding more text to your site: the more information you have on there, the better – as long as it is presented well.
In fact, some studies have found home pages that have between 2,250 – 2,500 words on them are optimal for higher search rankings. This is more than enough of a wordcount to help you include most keywords you need to use!
Aside from the main text on your website, another important thing to consider is creating content, i.e. article/blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. related to your business and industry.
By doing this, you can write whole articles based around popular keywords that will, over time, bring more traffic to your site and help your ranking. You can share this content over social media and/or include it in email newsletters to customers who have signed up for them.
Once you have done your keyword research and added keywords to your website’s main text, you have laid the foundations for building a good SEO ranking.
Many small local businesses simply focus on having their information listed on their website. To stand out from your competition, you should create content.
Creating content is time-consuming, but in the long-run it will help your site’s SEO enormously, especially if you write or create content with keywords in mind.
It takes time for Google to rank new websites. It can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years to rank on the first page of Google for a particular keyword search, depending mainly on how competitive that keyword is.
Updating your keywords is important if you are working in a fast-changing industry. I.e., if you are a clothes shop, you might want to add keywords related to new brands and styles as and when they come into stock.
After keywords, the next basic step to think about is backlinks. Next time I will explain what these are and how to get them!
Kain is an SEO freelance consultant and copywriter based in London. His business is called Barbell SEO (https://barbellseo.co.uk)