SEO 101: What are Keywords?

what are keywords
what are keywords

By now, you’ve probably heard us mention “SEO” a few times. In fact, search engine optimization has been a hot topic in our blogs, and on our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. However, we never really went in-depth into what it is and what makes up SEO. Until today, that is. Welcome to SEO 101. First lesson: what are keywords?

What are Keywords?

A keyword is simply a specific word or phrase that someone types into a search engine. They’re Google searches! A few examples of keywords can be: 

  • Digital marketing
  • Ice cream shop near me
  • Men’s basketball shoes
  • Dog food

These searches are the lifeblood behind natural growth and behind search engine optimization. The name “SEO” even comes from this — keywords optimize how search engines rank your business. So a good SEO strategy might get you on Google’s second or third page, while a great one will skyrocket your business to the first listing. 

Keywords are insanely powerful tools when used right. So, how do you use them? First, you need to understand the two types. 

What are Short-tail Keywords?

Short tail keywords are more general terms and short phrases. They’re typically less than three words and cover a wide range of things. They’re terms like: 

  • Basketball shoes
  • Cats
  • Ice cream
  • Water bottles

As you can see, they’re just random terms without any real buy-intent behind them. They’re commonly used for research, for window shopping, and for laughs. 

A good thing about short tail keywords is that they’re highly searched for. However, it also means there is a lot of competition — a lot of people are going to fight for these keyword placements. They’re harder to rank for, which means it’s difficult to get on the front page of Google if you choose to optimize your website with them. 

If you want more buy-intent keywords, then you’re likely looking for long-tail keywords. 

What are Long-tail Keywords?

As you probably expected, long-tail keywords are more specific than short-tail and are generally 3+ words in length. They’re more descriptive, more buy-intent, and target an audience, rather than the general masses. Some examples would be: 

  • Nike basketball shoes for men
  • Maine Coon Cats for Adoption
  • Local ice cream shop near me
  • Water bottles with fruit diffusers

Why are they important? They filter through unqualified traffic. This means that people searching for “Fry’s Brand Ice Cream” won’t end up on your local ice cream parlor’s website. 

Long tail keywords have a lot of potential. They’re not searched for as often, but when people do search for them, they’re ready to buy. Most of them have already done their research and know what they’re looking for. Now they’re just scouting for the best deals and the best reviews — if your business has both, then you’re golden. 

How to Find Keywords

Now that you know what keywords are, you have to know how to find ones that are relevant to your business. Luckily, this part is pretty easy if you have the right tools to back up your ideas. It can be done in two simple steps. 

Step One: Make a Digital List of Keyword Ideas

Making a list of relevant keywords is as easy as knowing your business, what you do, what you sell, and who you sell it to. Using the ice cream shop example, all of the following could be on your list of keywords: 

  • Your business name
  • Your business name + location 
    • Near me
    • Your city
    • Your zipcode
  • Your name
  • Ice cream
  • Ice cream flavors
  • Hand churned ice cream
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Lactose free ice cream

If you’re a contractor or if you sell a service, then your keyword list is going to be a lot more service-based. For example, say you’re a plumber. Your keywords could include things you do, such as slab leak repairs, repiping a home, and drain cleaning. 

Once you have your list, it’s time to move on to step two. 

Step Two: Look at the Data

Not every keyword will be a popular Google search, which means not every keyword will be worth your time. You can find this information using tools such as Ahrefs. Their keyword explorer tool lets you type in a keyword (or export your entire list) to see real data. You’ll see how many people searched that keyword each month, how hard it is to get on Google’s front page using that keyword, the top pages that rank for that keyword, and so much more. It’s invaluable data to get your SEO started. 

Unfortunately, though, Ahrefs is a little costly. We have a better solution for you: Business Warrior. Our dashboard outlines what keywords you should be ranking for and where your business currently stands for free. Once you know that, you can work towards optimizing your website to get on Google’s front page. 

We also offer tips and tutorials on how to optimize your website, as well as the option to do it for you with Business Warrior Pro — something Ahref does not. So if you want to use keywords properly and understand the data, the choice is clear. 

How to Use Keywords

Now that you have your list and the data behind it, you can start making use of your keywords. We’re going to quickly break down how to use them in crucial places. 

Keywords on Your Website 

Your website’s homepage should be optimized for no more than three keywords. Pick the most relevant and popular ones from your list and start putting them into your homepage’s content. The essential places to put them are the main heading, a secondary heading, and sprinkled a few times throughout the page. 

The difficult part is making it look as natural as possible. Everything will need to flow together so customers don’t even recognize they’re reading keywords. Don’t worry though, Google will see them and will start ranking your website accordingly. 

A word of caution though: SEO is a slow beast. It can take months for your website to rise in ranking. Be patient with it and keep at it by adding extra content to your website every now and then. It will help! 

Keywords in Blogs and Content

Writing quality content and blog posts is essential for optimal keyword optimization. Nowadays, Google uses blogs to help expand your SEO, naturally. Write blogs centered around keywords, promote them on social media, and give them time to naturally boost your SEO.

On top of that, an active blog roll tells Google that your website is alive and well. That will tremendously help with pushing you up the rankings! 

One thing though: don’t compete with yourself! Use one keyword per blog to start out and never re-use keywords. For example: using “emergency plumber” as a keyword for your homepage and for a blog post will only confuse Google. It won’t know which page is better for customers to see! So use keywords once and use them wisely

Keywords in Ads

Keywords are also essential for paid search (Google) advertisements. In the most basic terms, when you’re advertising on Google, you’re trying to outbid the competition for specific keywords. The higher your bid, the better placed your ad will be. 

Additionally, the more relevant your ad content is to the specific keyword(s) the ad campaign is targeting, the better your ad will perform as well. So good content to backup the ad is essential! This is also relevant to your website. When you click on an ad, it takes you to a website or a landing page. If your website or landing page is optimized for the same keyword the ad is using, then your ads will perform better! 

Basically, do your keyword research well, optimize your website and blogs, and you’ll benefit from it organically with SEO and with ads. It’s a lot of work, but organic traffic is the future of foot traffic — it brings people through your door without advertising. 

If you want to get started with your SEO, then download Business Warrior! Our helpful tips and data through Business Warrior Scout will get you on track to boosting your sales, naturally. Sign up today! 

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