It is no secret that keywords are important. While they are not the only ranking factor, they can help you to increase the organic traffic to your website. Direct links from websites can get you some visitors, but if you want your website to be successful, you should find the right keywords that will make it rank higher in search engine results. In this article, we will look at what exactly keywords are, and we will give you ten useful tips how to choose the best keywords for your website.
What are keywords, and why do they matter?
Keywords, or sometimes key phrases, are the terms that people type into search engines when they are looking for something – information, a product, etc. They connect what people search for with your content. Keywords are important for many reasons. Choosing the right ones can increase the traffic to your website, leading to more sales if you offer products or services. This will be free organic traffic, which is quite important for the success of any website.
With some luck, you can boost the ranking of your website enough for it to start appearing ahead of your competitors. What is more, using good keywords can help you to attract the right audience, which can lower the bounce rate on your site. This is why, you should spend time and efforts to make sure that you use the right keywords on your website.
Tips to choose the right keywords
1. Choose keyword types
Before you do anything else, you should consider the type of keywords you want to use. This depends on the nature of your website and on your preferences, but also on how descriptive the keywords will be. Here you have several options:
- Head. These are usually 1-2 more generic words that return lots of results. Due to that fact, it is really hard to rank your site among the first results only based on head keywords. Of course, it is not impossible. “Apple pie”, for example, returns 424 million results in Google.
- Body. The body keywords include 1-2 more words, one of them usually describing the others. They narrow down the search a bit. In our example, “Cinnamon apple pie” returns 39 million results.
- Long-Tail. These are phrases that include 3-4 or more words. As they are significantly more specific, they return more focused results. Many people use these, so they give your website the best chance to rank well in search engine results. They give your site the best chance to rank well in niche searches. “How to make homemade cinnamon apple pie” will show you 21 million results.
- Geo-targeted. These are usually phrases that include a location - “buy an apple pie in Orlando”, or “find a restaurant in the Bay Area”. They will have a lower search count, but will always be with high conversion potential. Geo-targeted keywords are a good choice if a particular area is your actual target audience.
- Brand name. You should usually add your brand name among your keywords to make sure that your website appears before any third-party site that mentions your brand name. Sometimes, even competitors can do that on purpose to take advantage if they notice that a particular website does not rank well due to the lack of its brand name as a keyword.
2. Brainstorm as if you were your target audience
This is a good way to choose the keywords you should focus on. Think about the most common terms your customers would use, and the most common ones you would use to find your website. Ask friends or family to do the same so that you can get unbiased opinions. If you already have a website, and you know some of your customers personally, you can ask them what keywords they would use as well.
3. Consider your audience
Now that you have brainstormed possible keywords, consider which ones are suitable. Make sure that the ones you choose will target your desired audience. For instance, using more general keywords will allow you to reach a broader audience, but you risk reaching people that may not really be interested in your content. You will also have more competition.
If you decide to go for specific keywords, you will reach the right audience, but there is a chance you will miss some visitors as people will have to narrow down their search to match your keywords. It is likely that some people will simply not use keywords that are too specific. This is why, you should find the right balance based on the audience you would like to reach, but also on the likelihood that they will use certain keywords.
4. Use research tools
There are various tools you can use in your research, so you should definitely take advantage of this opportunity. Some of them are free, others are paid. Which ones you will use depends on your project and how detailed you want the information to be. To be fair, you can do (almost) everything using only free tools, or the free version of paid ones. We have listed some of them below.
- Ahrefs Keywords Explorer. Just enter one or a few keywords and discover what people search for by country, what topics your keywords cover, how hard it will be to rank your site high for a particular keyword, the monthly number of searches, and more. The company offers a Keywords Generator as well.
- Google Keyword Planner. This tool will offer you a different perspective when it comes to choosing keywords. You can enter your desired keywords and your domain name and see how good these keywords are in terms of monthly searches, or you can simply enter your URL and find out what keywords will rank the best from your existing content. This way, you can focus on adjusting your content to boost the site ranking for these keywords.
- Google Instant. When you start typing something in Google, some suggestions will appear, prompting you to complete your search. While these suggestions will change with time based on your own search history, the initial ones will tell you what people search for the most. This is why, you can use Google Instant to check the phrases people ask about the most and get some ideas for keywords on your site. Some tools like AnswerThePublic can help you to see unaltered suggestions from different countries.
- Google Trends. Discover what people are interested in. Check the terms they have searched for the most in a particular period, or enter a keyword and see how popular it has been in searches in different countries. Compare how different keywords have performed through time. Google Trends will help you to see if a particular keyword has always been popular, or if there was just a temporary peak in searches.
- Moz Explorer. Yet another powerful tool that will analyze your website and tell you which keywords you should prioritize. You can also see relevant keyword suggestions, as well as a SERP analysis that will show you the websites that appear when you search for these specific keywords.
5. Consider search intent
People often use specific terms and phrases based on their intent. They usually want to buy, research or find something. This is something you should consider when you choose keywords for your site. You should have the type of your content in mind as well. It is far more likely for search engines to rank your site higher if its keywords match people’s searches. “Prepare an apple pie” and “Order an apple pie” may look similar, but they are quite different when it comes to search engines. You should focus on one or the other, or create separate pages if you want to try to rank well for both.
6. Consider how many you will need
When it comes to keywords, “the more, the better” is not the right approach. You should find the right balance between the number of keywords and their quality. If you have too few, you may miss potential traffic. If you add too many, your website may start appearing in irrelevant searches, and you may start getting traffic from people that are not really interested in your content.
7. Check your competition
You don’t have to invent the wheel. Check your competition to see what keywords they use. If needed, adapt your own keywords and marketing strategy. After all, you should not avoid using good keywords only because somebody else already uses them. You can also check the type of websites that appear when you search for specific keywords. You may not stand a chance against a very strong domain, but you may notice that here are some average domains, which you can easily beat.
8. Create a separate page for each keyword
The idea here is to focus your efforts on a particular topic on one single page. Choose keywords for a given page based on its content. It makes no sense to have two or more similar pages competing with each other in search results, as only your competitors will benefit from that. If you must have similar content, try to use different keywords on each page. After all, search engines rank pages, not entire websites. If you have a blog, you can use it to target informational keywords, while your website can be focused on a more commercial intent in terms of the keywords you use.
9. Choose relevant keywords
Any keywords or key phrases you choose should describe your content. If you use good keywords, which are simply not relevant to your content, you will probably attract traffic, but people will quickly notice that what you offer is not what they need. This way, the bounce rate of your website will increase, as you will be driving the wrong audience to the site. Search engines may also penalize your website in the long run.
10. Consider if they have any potential
When you choose what keywords to focus on, you should consider if they have any ranking potential. What good will it do to create content and target certain keywords if you have no chance of competing with established websites? You can use a keyword difficulty checker to see how likely it will be to bring organic traffic to your site, or if you can compete with the top 10 websites for a particular keyword. You should also ask yourself if the keywords can actually help you to expand your client base, or if they are a part of such a small niche that their business potential is really low.
It is no exaggeration to say that choosing the right keywords can significantly affect the success of your website. This is why, it is very important that you spend enough time to choose keywords/key phrases. You can start with choosing the type and the number of keywords you want to have. Brainstorm to get some ideas, then use one or a few tools to check how difficult it will be to rank with these keywords or to get some related suggestions.
Do not hesitate to check your competition. You can see what strategies they have employed, which can help you to decide what to do for your own website. Create a separate page with unique content that is focused on each of your keywords, and choose relevant key phrases that will match what people search for. Do not forget to assess if the keywords you choose will have any ranking and/or business potential at all.
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