What Are Keywords? Why Are Keywords Important to SEO? And How Do You Do Keyword Research?
Can you do SEO without knowing about keywords? Probably not successfully.
So here I’ll explain this foundational concept as we explore:
- What are keywords
- What not to do with keywords
- Why keywords are important
- How to do keyword research
- FAQ: How do long-tail keywords impact search performance?
SEO keywords: are single words or short phrases that represent the search queries that people use in a search engine. Website owners or marketers select keywords and use them to guide content creation and optimize their webpages as part of their SEO strategy.
When you align your content creation and optimization with the words, topics, products, and services your target audience is looking for, you have a better chance of showing up in the search results.
One reason keyword optimization is important is that using keywords properly helps communicate to the search engines what a webpage is about. And that can improve the chances that a search engine will find a webpage relevant to a particular query.
It’s important to note that Google uses many signals to determine if a page is relevant for a query, not just keywords. But they are a factor; I’ll share data about that later.
What Are Long-Tail Keywords?
Long-tail keywords string together three or more words to create a more specific keyword phrase. Searchers perform long-tail queries in the following situations:
- To narrow down what they are looking for as they search for products, services, or information. When people are on a buying or knowledge journey, they often start with very broad or general keywords, maybe two-word phrases. As they begin to refine their research, search queries become much more specific and usually longer. So long-tail queries often have a higher conversion rate than broad terms do.
- When using voice search, for example, on a mobile device. Data shows that 48% of consumers are using voice assistants for general web searches. Voice queries tend to be much more conversational because people are speaking and not typing.
In a nutshell, long-tail keywords allow you to target very specific queries during every step of the searcher’s journey. So even though they have less search volume than the more competitive broad keywords do, these phrases are valuable to rank for.
When you’re creating content for the web:
- Don’t use keywords to trick or mislead. One example is keyword stuffing. Another would be trying to use keywords that are off-topic for your page and site. Google does not respond well to keyword abuse. To be rewarded in the search results, your site’s SEO must stay within Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
- Don’t target keywords that do not exactly describe the contents of your page.
- Don’t use keywords awkwardly in your content. Keywords should be incorporated into the body text and meta information in a natural and subtle way.
Keywords help you as a website owner to:
- Identify and speak the language of the target market
- Create useful content for your target audience
- Communicate to Google that a webpage is a relevant match for a query
- Improve search engine rankings by helping Google understand what the webpage content is about
- Get content in front of the right people at the right time
- Drive more qualified traffic to appropriate webpages
- Increase time on site by directing more qualified traffic to webpages
- Increase conversions by helping consumers find you rather than your competitors
All of these matter for SEO. To elaborate, keyword research helps you understand how your target audience might describe and look for your products or services. It also shows you how people ask for more information on your topics when using a search engine.
Armed with these words and phrases, you can come up with ideas for new content. You can also optimize your webpages to match a searcher’s intent and answer a searcher’s questions.
Keyword research and optimization can improve your chances of showing up on Page 1 of the search results. In fact, data from 2020 shows that most title tags on Google’s first page contained keywords that were an exact or partial match of that search query.
Aside from rankings, keyword research has other benefits that can help you better serve your consumer.
For instance, say you’re a bread company researching the keyword phrase “organic bread.” During your research, you find that there is a high search volume for the term “organic bread flour.” Could this be a new product opportunity?
When is keyword research done? If you’re wise, you make it an ongoing exercise. Trends fluctuate, search intent evolves, and even the names of things change over time. So keep at it, always looking for opportunities to meet customer needs and rank better in search.
There’s a lot to keyword research, but here is the process in four basic steps:
- Start with a “brainstorm” list, also known as a “seed” list. Document anything you can think of that would describe your product, service, or the information you have to share.
- Use a keyword research tool. Use an analysis tool that gives you data on the ideas in your seed list. (Check out our SEOToolSet as an option.)
- Expand and refine your list. Discover suggested keyword phrases from the keyword research tool. Find out the actual words people use as they search for your products, services, or information. Find out how often the queries are used, which can help you prioritize the work.
- Verify keyword phrases. Analyze the competition in the search results that show up for the target keywords. Do you see webpages that offer products, services, or information like yours? If so, it means you’re in the right space.
Here’s more on how to research and use keywords:
- How to Do Keyword Research: A 6-Point Checklist
- How to Select Keywords
- Search Engine Optimization Guide
Keyword research is integral to successful SEO and something we do on an ongoing basis for our clients. If you’d like expert assistance with your website, I invite you to request a free consultation and quote.
Long-tail keywords, those specific phrases consisting of three or more words, enhance search performance. As an experienced professional in this domain, I’m here to elucidate the profound impact of long-tail keywords on search engine visibility.
Long-tail keywords are the keys to unlocking targeted traffic. By using longer, more specific phrases, businesses and content creators can align their offerings with the exact needs of their audience. Imagine you’re seeking the perfect pair of running shoes. Instead of searching for “shoes,” you might type in “best long-distance running shoes for women.” This refined search showcases the power of long-tail keywords in delivering precise results.
Moreover, long-tail keywords have the potential to elevate conversion rates. Think about it – a user who is looking for something specific is more likely to take action than a casual browser. This is where long-tail keywords shine. When you cater to a specific intent, you attract visitors and guide them toward the solutions they seek. This translates to better engagement, increased time on your website, and, ultimately, higher conversions.
Crafting content around long-tail keywords also helps in voice search optimization. As the prevalence of voice assistants grows, people are more inclined to use natural, conversational language. Long-tail keywords naturally lend themselves to this trend. They reflect how people talk, making your content more accessible to voice search queries and consequently widening your audience reach.
Transitioning from broader keywords to strategically chosen long-tail phrases requires meticulous research. Explore the nuances of your niche and identify the specific queries your audience will likely use. Incorporate these phrases seamlessly into your content, titles, and meta descriptions. This blend of relevance and specificity ensures your content is found and cherished by those who seek it.
The impact of long-tail keywords on search performance is profound. By understanding your audience’s intent and tailoring your content to match, you tap into a goldmine of targeted traffic, improved engagement, and higher conversion rates. As an expert in the field, I emphasize the strategic use of long-tail keywords as an indispensable tool for elevating your digital presence and connecting with the right audience.
Step-by-Step Procedure: Maximizing Search Performance with Long-Tail Keywords
- Understand Your Audience: Research your target audience to identify their pain points, preferences, and search habits.
- Brainstorm Seed Keywords: Compile a list of general keywords related to your niche.
- Expand Keywords: Utilize keyword research tools to identify long-tail variations of your seed keywords.
- Analyze Competition: Evaluate the search results for your chosen long-tail keywords to assess the competition.
- Prioritize Relevance: Choose long-tail keywords that closely match the intent of your audience.
- Integrate Naturally: Seamlessly incorporate long-tail keywords into your content, headings, and meta descriptions.
- Create High-Quality Content: Craft informative, engaging content that fulfills users’ needs by searching for specific information.
- Monitor Performance: Regularly track the performance of your content using analytics tools.
- Refine and Optimize: Based on performance data, adjust your keyword strategy and content to enhance results.
- Stay Updated: Keep up with evolving trends and shifts in search behavior to refine your long-tail keyword approach.
By following these steps, you can harness the potential of long-tail keywords to boost your search engine performance and connect with your audience more effectively.