The foundation of search on the internet is keywords. Keywords are the search phrases people enter into a search engine’s search box to find the information they’re looking for. The whole purpose of your business’ website is to get found when potential customers search online for keywords related to your business’ niche or industry.
Your goal is to show up high on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) for keywords that relate to your business.
To get found online, you need to optimize the content on each of your site’s pages for the search engines AND for the people who are searching for you so (hopefully) your site ranks on the first page of search results for the keywords you’re trying to rank for. Ranking on the first page of Google is easier for local companies (because there’s less competition), but it’s still not as easy as it may seem.
One of the reasons it’s difficult to rank on the first page of Google is because Google’s first page of search results is already packed with paid-for ads and the Google “local 3-pack.”
The ads and local 3-pack typically take up so much space on the first page that there is very little room for other search result listings (these non-paid for search results are also known as “organic” search listings.)
Even though there’s not much room left for organic listings, it’s important that you somehow get your site listed on the first page. Here’s why:
- The first organic search result gets nearly 33% of clicks.
- 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
If your website isn’t listed in the local 3-pack or in the organic search listings, the chances of a potential customer finding you is almost zero.
Keyword Research: Select Keywords to Target
When it comes to ranking your site higher on Google (and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo), it’s important that you think about the keywords people are using to search for your business, and then hone in on those keywords as you write content for your site.
Keyword research is the first step to ranking towards the top of search engine results. One way to easily find keywords is to simply start typing a search phrase related to your business into Google, and Google will start displaying various keyword phrase options:
When you’re looking for keywords to target, you want to optimize for keywords that have more than three words (“long-tail keywords”) because these longer keyword phrases typically have less competition and are more specific (Sony Alpha a5000 SLR vs. digital camera.)
Long-tail keywords also allow you the room to optimize for keyword phrases that have “buyer intent.” An example of intent-based keywords would be “Maytag refrigerators with top freezer” vs. “refrigerators.”
Let’s use the refrigerator example to see how buyer intent and long-tail keywords work. If you optimize the content on a page for just the keyword “refrigerators,” you could get people who are looking for information about refrigerators, how refrigerators work, what products you should use to clean refrigerators, and what to look for when buying refrigerators – you get the idea. None of these visitors are necessarily looking to purchase a Maytag refrigerator from you.
But if you create pages about specific models of Maytag refrigerators with top freezers, you’re going to get people who are probably ready to buy a Maytag refrigerator because they’re actually interested in Maytag refrigerators specifically with top freezers. (Those are people who have “buyer intent” and are more likely to make an actual purchase.) Those are the types of visitors you want to get to your site if you sell Maytag refrigerators.
Ways to Find Keywords
All the major search engines, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, show keywords that are related to the entered search terms on their result pages. These are terms that the search engines think are relevant to the search query -- and they’re also keywords that users are typing in to find your type of products or services. Start entering search terms into the main search box, see what related search phrases the search engines come up with, and keep a list of those terms. (NOTE: When people think of search engines, most people think Google first. It’s important to keep in mind that Bing has 23% of the search market – and that’s still a huge number of users. So when you’re creating your keyword list, be sure to use Bing to find keywords, too.)
Below you will see related search terms from Google:
And here are related search terms in Bing:
There are a plethora of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools on the market. Many of these tools are robust and created for SEO professionals to use to manage their clients’ SEO campaigns. However, optimizing the content on your website for keywords is an ongoing endeavor – it’s not a “one and done” thing. This means you need to regularly add new pages to your website that focus on keywords you want to rank for. Tools like SEOProfiler or SEMrush allow you to find keyword phrases that are searched for frequently but aren’t as competitive (which increases your chances of ranking higher.) These types of tools will be worth the price if you plan on creating and optimizing the content on your site as often as you should.
If you’re not ready to invest in SEO keyword research tools, you can always sign up for a free Google AdWords account and use Google’s Keyword Planner:
Or use a free tool like https://keywordtool.io/
Another place you can find great under-used but valuable keywords is by visiting user forums. Where else can you find hundreds – and sometimes thousands – of people asking and answering questions about your business’ topic?
To find user forums, use these search strings:
“keyword” + “forum”
“keyword” + “board”
“keyword” + “powered by VBulletin”
Once you get to the various user forums, see what types of questions people are asking about the products or services in your industry or niche, and create keyword-rich pages on your site that answer these frequently asked questions.
Final Tips on Using Keywords
Once you have your list of keywords, here are some other tips to help you better optimize your content pages using the keywords you’re targeting:
- Put keywords in:
- Title tags
- Description tags
- Alt image tags
- H1 (heading 1) tags
- Towards the front of a paragraph/sentence
- Use synonyms/variations of the keywords
- Optimize each page for only 1-2 keywords – max
- Try not to repeat the keyword phrase more than two times per page
- Google likes long-form content – so try and write around 1,500 words per page
Mastering the art of keyword research and ranking your site so it reaches the first page on search engines can take time, but once you get the hang of search engine optimization, you will see how it can help your site – and your sales – take off!