Keywords 101: The Ultimate Guide to Using Keywords

Keywords 101: The Ultimate Guide to Using Keywords

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January 14 2022
Big Ideas

Keywords 101: The Ultimate Guide to Using Keywords

Whether you're in the business-to-customer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) space, keywords are a huge part of digital marketing. And they're likely not going anywhere anytime soon. People are using these words, phrases, and questions to the get answers they need on their search engine of choice. In other words, keywords help you and your business be found to your target audience. Without keywords, users wouldn't be able to find the information they're looking for on the web. In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about Keywords and how to you them to your benefit.

What is a Keyword, and What Does it Do?

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A keyword is an idea or topic that defines what your content is about. Keywords are important for search engine optimization (SEO) because they're the words and phrases that internet users plug into the search engines to return relevant content. If you own a website and create content, you want the content of your pages and posts (aka your keywords) to be relevant to what your target audience is searching for. Doing so will give them a better chance of finding your content in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Keywords are important because they help determine what kind of traffic your website gets. For example, let's say you're a meal prep service. If you write a post or create a video on the best practices for healthy meal prepping, you're going to drive traffic from people looking specifically for these tips. So, the people you're bringing into your website could be busy working moms, health and fitness junkies, or minimalists who want to cut back on grocery spending and save time. As a meal prep service, these are what you would call your Buyer Personas. (If you want to dive into what a Buyer Persona is, check out this article).

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By creating relevant content that includes keywords your audience is looking for, you can boost organic traffic to your website, which leads us to the next point.

 

How Google Uses Keywords

So how do keywords work on Google?

You've probably heard of the Google algorithm. You know, the thing that controls who sees what on the world wide web? Yeah, that. Perhaps you've always wondered, "What is it and what does it mean?" Let’s dive into that together. In terms of Organic search, the Google search algorithm is a complex system that allows Google to find, rank, and return the most relevant pages for a certain search query.

Ultimately, Google's goal is to improve the user experience and make finding the right information as easy as possible. What does this mean for websites? That if your webpage isn't offering information that's relevant to a user's search query, Google has a way of detecting that through its search engine spiders. These spiders crawl web pages and store information for the search engine to index. So, when a user types a word, question, or phrase into the Google Search bar, Google sorts through hundreds of billions (that's right, billions!) of web pages in its Search Index to find the most relevant, useful results.

Again, what does this mean for websites? Google will prioritize websites that provide the most relevant information. This means that these websites are more likely to rank higher in the SERPs. (If you’re interested in learning more about how this works, check out this article we wrote a while back).

Wait, what does this have to do with keywords? Well, keywords help Google determine what a webpage is about. In other words, they help you become found. As we often say: if you’re not on the first page of Google search, you’re not being found. The more relevant keywords you include in your content, the easier it is for Google to "crawl" your webpages and index them. This increases your chances of ranking, which means boosted visibility for your site. As a result, more people will see your website in the SERPs. 

SEO vs PPC

We just discussed how Google uses organically – but there is a whole other side to keywords: Google Ads. Google Ads is Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising solution. This allows businesses and website owners to bid on various keywords for the chance to be found at the top of searches on Google – increasing the likelihood that they will 

How does it work? You create an ad on google and upload a list of keywords that you would like to rank for. You pay only when a user clicks on your ad to visit your site or call your business. Essentially, the ads give you the best opportunity possible to be noticed by a wider audience online – but for a cost. It’s important to note, however, a PPC ad solution such as Google Ads does NOT offer the same results as organic rankings; it won’t improve your organic search rankings (SEO). It will, however, help you grab the attention of online users in their moments of intent – the exact moment they’re looking for a business like yours… all thanks to keywords. 

Keyword Best Practices 

Now that we know what keywords are and why they’re important to you as a website owner, let’s dive into how you should be using them on your site. Below are some keyword do's and don'ts for business:

Do: Start Compiling a List of Relevant Keywords

Come up with a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business. You can also write down common questions your current clients or customers ask.

Most likely, you won't use all the keywords in your list. But at least you'll get a clear idea of what types of keywords you'll be plugging into your keyword research tool, which we'll discuss a bit later.

Don't: Ignore Customer Intent

User search intent involves what people want to find when they conduct searches. If someone Googles "washing machine repairs Winnipeg", they probably aren't looking for an article about the history of the washing machine. So, when crafting your content, make sure your keywords are as specific as possible. Vague keywords can prevent your site from ranking in the SERPs.

Do: Broaden Your Keyword Pool

Increase your chances of ranking by using more complete and descriptive Keywords. For example, use long-tail keywords and LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords. Long-tail keywords contain more words, which means they're more specific and have lower competition. So instead of targeting the keyword, "camera water sports", try something like, "what kind of camera is best for water sports".

You don't want to just use longer keywords, but you also want to use more keywords that are relevant to your topic. LSI keywords, which stand for latent semantic indexing, are keywords that are related to your primary target keyword(s). LSI keywords help add more context and simplify your content for both users and search engines to understand what your content is related to.

Don't: Stuff Keywords

A successful keyword strategy will help your site rank in the SERPs. Does this mean you should go stuffing them unnaturally into your content? Nope. Keyword stuffing will get your site penalized, meaning it'll hurt your rankings. A crucial rule in keyword 101 is to avoid keyword stuffing at all costs.

Do: Use Google Keyword Planner and Other Tools

Now let's look at how to find keywords for business and how to use keywords for the business.

So, you've gathered up a list of relevant keywords you can use in your content, including long-tail and LSI keywords. Now it's time to plug those keywords into your keyword tools. Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for keyword research. Google Keyword Planner allows you to see search volumes, level of competition, and the cost to target keywords. It also has recommendations for other keywords it 

Don't: Put all Your Keywords on One Page

Instead of placing all your keywords on one page, use specific, relevant keywords on each page. This will prevent your pages from competing against each other for rankings. Plus, it'll make It clear to search engines exactly what your pages are about.

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Keywords are all about getting found by the people who are looking for you, so increase your page views, decrease your bounce rate and watch your conversion rate increase with a proper keyword strategy. Contact Glenn Cressman, Sherpa.McKim’s Chief Client Officer is now to get working on a successful keyword strategy.  

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