Search engines such as Google play a huge role in our lives today. Whether it’s finding information or buying something, they’re always at the top of our minds. As a result, we often rely heavily on them to get things done.
When searching for anything on the web, we type keywords into the search bar. These words tell the search engine exactly what we want to see. For example, if we wanted to find out how to build a robot, we would probably enter something like ‘how to build a robot’ into the search box. The search engine then looks through its database of webpages and finds those that match our query.
When creating a new website and starting a digital marketing campaign, it’s important to optimize it for both humans and search engines. This means using relevant keywords throughout the site. If you don’t include these keywords, you may not rank as well in search results. Using keyword research to unearth relevant keywords can help you find keywords that might be high traffic drivers, and could become great drivers of success for your site.
There is also a higher element of success in organic search that you can get when you use keywords in your copy compared to when you do not. Doing so will help you unearth suggestions for great keywords to target as well. This will also help you turn your content creation into more of a success.
What Are Keywords?
Keywords are ideas and topics defined by what your content is about, and they’re used to find it online. They help determine where your content appears in search results.
In terms of SEO, they’re the words and phrases that people enter into search engines, or “searches.” If you boil everything on a web page — all the images and videos, text, and even code — down to simple words, those are your primary keyword phrases.
As a website owner and content producer, you want the keywords and key phrases on your site to be relevant to what your audience wants, so that they have a better shot of locating your content among the results, especially when someone searches for something specific.
Why Are Keywords Important?
Keywords are important because they’re the linchpin between the words people are typing into search boxes and the content you provide. They help you identify the types of content that people are looking for and guide you toward creating content that attracts the right kind of traffic.
If you own a golf shop and you want to rank for “golf clubs,” for example, you might think you could simply write articles describing the benefits of golf clubs and hope for the best. But if you don’t know how your audience thinks about golf clubs, you might attract people who just want to find a good place to dance after dark, or worse, someone who wants to buy a new car.
You can do better than that. By understanding your audience and the terms they use to express themselves online, you’ll be able to craft content that speaks directly to their needs and interests. And since you’ve already done the work of defining your brand and deciding what kinds of products and services you sell, you won’t have to spend hours writing copy that doesn’t speak to anyone.
This is where data comes in handy. Analyzing data properly can help you identify specific topics and topical clusters that will help improve your site’s improvement in the search results.
Using Keywords on Your Page
Many searchers use keywords while looking for information online. But it’s not enough to simply throw words into your content; you want to make sure those words are relevant to your audience. If you don’t, you could end up appearing unnatural and spammy to Google.
The problem is that most webmasters think that keywords are limited to the title tag of a page, and maybe one mention in the body. They might assume that if they include the word “keyword” somewhere within the body of the text, they’ll be fine. However, there are several problems with this approach.
First off, it doesn’t work. Using one keyword does not even approach the level of competitiveness that you need anyway (especially for more keyword phrases), and that’s (literally and figuratively) a lazy approach to SEO. Ideally, you want to use a tool such as Frase in order to identify exactly the keywords you need on the page in order to rank well.
Secondly, it’s too easy to trick Google. When you say something like “Keyword here,” you’re essentially telling Google that the page contains the term, and therefore it’s likely a little bit easier to rank well for that phrase. But what if someone else says the same thing, except they calls their page “Keywords here”? Or what if someone else writes a similar article, but uses different phrasing? In short, the more you repeat yourself, the more likely you are to look a bit spammy and unnatural to search engines. This is something we always want to avoid.
Thirdly, it makes your content less useful. Imagine if you had a page called “How to Use Keywords.” Now imagine that you wrote a whole bunch of articles explaining how to use keywords. You’d probably lose a lot of readers because they’d assume that you’ve already written one of those articles and didn’t need to read another one.
So, what does work? First, make sure that every single piece of content you write includes a list of keywords – its main keyword followed by supporting keywords. Second, make sure that the keywords are unique. Finally, don’t try to sneakily hide keywords in places where they won’t be noticed. Instead, let the reader know exactly what you’re talking about by making sure your writing is clear, rather than riddled with keywords.
Using Keywords to Formulate a Content Strategy
When creating a content marketing plan, one of the most important things to consider is finding the right keywords. These words will determine where your content appears online and how well it performs.
If you’re looking to optimize your site for specific terms, there are several ways to go about doing this. One option is to find a tool like Keyword Explorer and enter some keywords into the search bar. This will give you a list of related keywords along with their respective search volumes, CPCs, and PPC costs.
You’ll probably see that some of those keywords aren’t relevant to your niche, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include them in your content. Instead, you can look at them as potential opportunities to write articles around topics similar to those terms. You can even use these keywords to help form a topic sentence within your body copy.
Once you’ve identified the keywords you’d like to focus on, you can move onto the next step – building a content strategy. A content strategy is essentially a document outlining everything you intend to publish on your site – every blog post, image, video, etc.
To begin, you’ll want to make sure that you know your audience and understand what types of information they’re seeking. Once you’ve determined what type of content your audience wants, you can start thinking about how to structure your posts. For example, if your audience tends to prefer videos, you might decide to create a YouTube channel and upload videos regularly. If they love images, you could set up an Instagram account and post photos frequently.
The best part about having a content strategy is that it helps you avoid repeating yourself. By identifying the types of content your audience prefers, you can ensure that you don’t end up publishing the same thing over and over again.
As you continue developing your strategy, you’ll want to keep track of how many times your content gets shared across social media platforms. You can use tools such as Shareaholic to monitor your performance.
Using Keywords for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When it comes to SEO, using keywords to help you rank your site is not always a process that most SEO professionals are familiar with. Also, the process might vary depending on your niche, your topic, and your audience.
At the end of the day, however, using keywords for SEO comes down to one thing: making sure that you touch upon all the appropriate topics that your audience expects.
Ideally, one should consider exactly what the focus keyword would be. Beyond that, user intent is critical. Identifying the exact user intent of your keywords is something that will help Google more accurately assess what you are trying to do with your content.
For example, if you write content with no keyword targeting or optimization, Google might randomly guess what your content is about. But, the right targeting can help you give Google the understanding it needs to rank your page even higher in the search results.
And, by making sure that you utilize the right targeting, it’s possible to achieve significant traffic gains to your blog as a result.
We often hear about how popular certain keywords are. We see the number of people searching for something. And we wonder, “Is my site relevant to those terms?”
But there’s another way to look at things. How many people are actually looking for what you offer? This is called “search volume.”
The problem is that most sites don’t know how to calculate search volume. The idea behind calculating search volume is that it will help you identify the keywords that are the best opportunities for your business.
For example, let’s say you’re selling SEO software. Your product helps businesses build high-quality backlinks. If you want to target that niche, you’ll need to determine which words people are actually searching for.
You could go into Google and type in one word at a time. Or you could any keyword research tool, like AHREFs, Google Trends, or Semrush. All of these options have keyword research tools, so you would be able to really go in and dive deep into your keyword research.
With any of those tools, it’s possible to choose which keywords to focus on based on how much traffic they generate.
If you’re selling anything online, chances are you’ve heard about search intent. Search intent refers to the idea that searchers are actively trying to find something specific, and they’ll go out of their way to do so.
For example, let’s say we are looking for information on how to build a robot vacuum cleaner. We might type in “build a robot vacuum cleaner” and see a bunch of different products pop up on my screen. But imagine that we are specifically looking for a model that runs on batteries. If we start typing in keywords related to battery life, such as “battery life” and “batteries,” we could likely notice that the search results change. Now there’s no longer a ton of stuff to read; we are only seeing things that relate directly to us. This is because we are actively seeking something more specific.
Now, take that same scenario and apply it to buying a robotic vacuum cleaner. When someone searches for “buy a robot vacuum cleaner,” they’re likely looking to make a purchase. They may want to know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. They don’t care about the price tag, they don’t even care if they’re buying a refurbished unit. All they really care about is finding the best deal possible.
This is why it makes sense to focus on keywords related to search intent. You can use tools like Keyword Explorer to identify keywords that are frequently searched together. Once you’ve identified those keywords, you can optimize your site around them. For example, if we wanted to write a blog post on building a robot vacuum cleaner, we could target the following keywords:
- Build a robot vacuum cleaner
- How to build a robot vacuum
- Robot vacuum cleaners
- Make a robot vacuum
- Buy a robot vacuum
These keywords are highly relevant to the topic of our blog post and will help readers understand what we’re talking about, without having to dig too deep.
What Is a Keyword’s Actual Value?
People often get hung up on the search volume and intent behind keywords without stopping to think about what a keyword’s value really is. They assume that because a keyword has high search volume, that it must be valuable. This is simply not true.
Let’s say that you sell pizzas online. You might see a keyword phrase like “pizza dough,” which has a monthly average search volume of 43,000. If we asked you whether or not you’d consider buying one of our pizzas, you might tell us that you wouldn’t. Why? Because you don’t know anything about us, or our brand, or our products.
If you’re selling pizza ovens online, however, you might find out that we’re looking for a pizza oven, and that we live somewhere near San Francisco. So, you could offer us a free pizza oven, and we both win.
Now, let’s look at another example. Say that we are looking for someone to help us build a house. We might type in “house builder.” At first glance, this seems like a good keyword for me to target. After all, there are over 2 million monthly searches for “house builder.” However, we are not interested in building houses. Instead, we are interested in finding someone who knows how to build houses.
We’ve got a few questions for you. What do you think our chances are of getting a response to this ad? How much money are we likely to spend? How long does it take to make a sale? And — most importantly — how much is our customer worth?
The answer to each question is different. A keyword with low search volume doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s worthless. In fact, it just means that you might have to work a little harder to get traffic elsewhere.
But, a keyword with high search volume is meaningless unless you understand what it actually represents. For example, if we wanted to sell pizzas, we would have a hard time targeting “pizza dough” because we wouldn’t know if anyone who is looking for pizza is looking for real pizza or pre-packaged pizza dough to cook later.
The difficulty of a keyword is determined by how many searches there are for it, how competitive the market is, and how much competition exists. If there are only a few searchers looking for something, it could be easy to rank for. But if there are millions of people searching for it every month, it might be impossible to compete against those big players.
Here’s an example of what we mean:
Let’s say you want to rank for “mortgage payment calculators.” You find out that there are about 300 searches per day for this phrase. This is a low number because higher search volume keywords have hundreds of thousands of searches per day. But let’s assume that it’s still pretty competitive. You do some research and see that there are some variations with more than several thousands of searches per month. But, they may differ in intent and you might have to tailor your article a bit.
For example: let’s say that you were looking for informational articles on real estate. You might have some keywords with a search volume of 14,500 per month. This could be considered a medium competition keyword. You could possibly attain rankings with very strong optimizations and some linking. Another keyword might have a search volume of over 35,000. This could be considered a high competition level keyword. The difficulty of achieving rankings for such a keyword is astronomical and could take at least a year or more to achieve.
Basically, the rule of thumb is: the higher your keyword difficulty, the harder it will be to rank for that particular keyword phrase. This is a keyword that you might want to put lower on the priority list, and add the easier ranking keywords higher on your priority list.
What Is a Focus Keyword?
A focus keyword is the search term you’d like a page or product to rank for most. For example, if you sell shoes online, you might use “shoes” as a focus keyword. This way, when someone searches for “shoes,” your site appears at the top of the list.
If you’re optimizing a blog post that talks about blogging, you might use “blogging tips.” Or, if you run a store selling computers, you could use “apple macbook pro.” Focus keywords are important because they help determine what your page or product needs to do to rank well.
For instance, if you’re trying to rank for “blogging tips,” you might want to include supporting topics such as “how to start blogging,” “best blogging tools,” or “top 10 blogging platforms.” The important thing is that you provide good information about those things. However, you also have to include keywords that support your topic. It’s not a simple matter of including one or two keywords. Or repeating the keywords over and over.
In recent years, search has evolved. Optimization of content is more complex, needing multiple layers optimized in order to rank well, not just optimized for one particular keyword phrase. In fact, for certain topics, there may be many keywords that need to be included in order for that article to be considered an authoritative resource on your subject.
In addition, focus keywords help you target specific audiences. So, if you’re writing about “How to Start Blogging,” you won’t necessarily attract everyone searching for “start blogs.” But if you’re targeting readers interested in starting their own fashion blog, you’ll likely reach a much larger audience.
Why Use a Focus Keyword?
It’s important to use a focus keyword phrase because it helps narrow down what your article is about. After your main focus keyword has been chosen, you can then move forward with deeper optimization of supporting keywords that reinforce your main keyword’s topic.
There are some who believe that using keywords is something that should never happen again. We disagree. We feel that strong optimization contains both keywords and entities. If we really wanted to change something about this, and keep entities separate from keywords, one could argue that keywords are something that people physically type into the search bar. The other part of this argument being that entities are something strictly part of optimizations for Google’s knowledge graph.
By making sure that you are more strategic in your approach, that you optimize for higher search volume keywords and entities, and that you ensure that you tick off all the appropriate boxes on the optimization front, you too can experience higher rankings and traffic.
What Is The Difference Between Keywords and Entities?
The main difference between keywords and entities is that keywords are really just about any main topic word that can be used as a focus of your content. Anything that’s not a random non-topic word like the, this, that, or something similar. Something like “blogging” is considered a main topic keyword. Be sure to read our guide on entities for more information on entity SEO.
Entities, however, are a different ball of wax. They are more modern ways to think about keywords. Entities are considered any type of noun that’s a part of Google’s knowledge graph. This knowledge graph is a collection of various topics and phrases describing those topics that Google considers relevant to any particular cluster of information.
The entities portion of this difference is actually known as a noun that describes people, places, and things. Anything that can be considered a person, a location, or something like a tangible object, could be considered an entity according to Google’s knowledge graph.
More modern SEO methods concentrate on utilizing information retrieval principles in combination of entities and keywords in order to really dial in the effectiveness of the site’s on-page SEO.
Keyword Research for SEO Is a Critical Part of Any SEO Process
Keywords haven’t gone away. They are still a critical optimization point. Although entities have entered the equation as part of Google’s knowledge graph, there are still supporting keywords.
By ensuring that your SEO processes include keyword research and the proper optimizations, you can transform your blog into something successful.
And, by dialing in your competitor research as well, you will have the ability to stand at the ready in order to change and adapt as needed to all algorithm updates.
When do you plan on optimizing your next blog post?