What Are SEO Keywords And Why Are They Important?
Ever heard of the famous SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) joke:
“An SEO expert walks into a bar, bars, tavern, pubs, Irish bud, drinks, beer, alcohol, public house…”
If you didn’t get that joke, then you definitely need to go over this article. If you did get this joke, you probably know what we’re talking about. These are the keywords associated with ‘bar’. Any conversation about SEO is incomplete without understanding keywords. So, let’s get started with the basics.
What are SEO keywords?
SEO keywords or keyphrases are essentially words and phrases that are added to online content to improve the search engine rankings of that content for those terms. Let’s break this down.
For instance, you make a page about your favorite brand of perfume. So, the keywords for that page would be such that the page shows up on search engines like Google whenever someone searches for that brand.
Why are SEO keywords important?
The next big question is why do SEO keywords matter? Why should you put in the effort to find the right keywords and add them to your online content? Well, the benefits of adding keywords to your online content are three-fold:
1. Keywords help you rank your content on Google and other search engines
A user is more likely to come to your website or any online content through a search engine than any other digital channel. According to BrightEdge, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine. So, it is imperative for you to get ranked on these search engines. This is where keywords come into the picture.
Any search engine ranks your online content primarily based on the keywords present in it. Keywords are your way of telling Google when to show your content as a search result for a search query. Until you have keywords in place, Google wouldn’t know which words and phrases to rank it for. You can learn how to do keyword research on our blog.
2. Keywords make your content discoverable to users
There are over 1 billion websites on the internet. The exact number keeps changing every second. So, it is quite possible for your website to get lost in the crowd. Keywords allow you to cut through the crowd and get to people who are actually looking for the content you have or the product/service you offer. It allows you to reach your target audience. How does that work?
Keywords are like Tinder. They help you get a match. For instance, this article is optimized for the phrase “what are SEO keywords”. So, when a person searches that, this article is likely to show up just like matchmaking.
3. Keywords get your qualified leads
Imagine you own an online health app to monitor diet. So, if a person is searching for “best apps to monitor diet” and your app shows up, you get a prospect for your product. When your online content ranks for the right keywords, you get people interested in those keywords on your website and generate leads that are worthy of pursuing and turning into customers.
Therefore, your focus should always be on the user. Only then, you can turn your visitors into clients.
What are Long-Tail Keywords?
Another commonly associated phrase with keywords is long-tail keywords. To understand long-tail keywords, you must first understand search volume and competition. Imagine SEO is a type of sport. So, when you play at the school level, the competition is low. But when you play at the state level, the competition gets tougher. With each level that you add, your competition worsens. So, at the international level, it’s the toughest. The broader your scope becomes, the tougher is the competition, right?
Now imagine this for a search engine. If you google just the word “best perfumes”, Google will have a lot of words to show because the scope of this search is really broad. But if you search for “best perfumes for women under $50”, the scope is narrowed down. While “best perfumes” is a head keyword, “best perfumes for women under $50” is a long-tail keyword because it has a tail of words attached to it.
The volume of search and the length of the keywords are inversely proportional. This means that the shorter your keyword is, the more the search queries for it will be.
Now, you must be thinking that if you’d get more people (search volume) for the shorter or head keywords, why should you even care about long-tail keyword. Here’s why:
High Search Volume means High Competition
While it’s tempting to attract a higher search volume, you have to fight more websites and webpages to get to the top 5 rankings for those keywords. Head keywords come with extremely tough competition. You may want to rank for ‘ice cream flavor’ but you’d never beat vanilla.
Short Keywords are Vague and Low Intent
Adam Audette, Chief Knowledge Officer, RKG right points out, “Today it’s not about ‘get the traffic’ — it’s about ‘get the targeted and relevant traffic.”
If you are want to sell cat food online, would you rather want to rank for the word “cats” which has high search volume or for the word “ best organic cat food for kittens”? Probably the latter because the person searching for organic cat food is more likely to be interested in your brand than the one just looking for cats.
So, long-tail keywords are important in getting high-intent leads and ranking better on search engines.
Keyword Stuffing- A Failed Approach
Now that you know about keywords, would just stuffing them in your online content work? Not really. Back in the 1900 and early 2000s, keyword stuffing was common practice. At that time, when Google and other search engines focused simply on matching keywords. They had bots who’d scan your online content for keywords and rank it if they were present there. So, people used malpractices to stuff high volume keywords in their content, without paying heed to the relevance of those keywords to the content. Some techniques used back then were:
- Block Paragraphs: Adding a list of search terms on a page with no information or content related to them. These were blocks of texts, that just had terms which people searched for so that the page could load for as many terms as possible.
- Keywords Repetition: Repeating keywords innumerable several times in the content intentionally, without focusing on coherence and relevance.
- Hiding keywords: Adding keywords in the same font color as the background color of the page. This way the reader won’t see the absurd use of keywords but a bot would index the page for that keyword.
But these people could not fool Google, the most commonly used search engine for too long. Google came up with algorithm updates combating these ‘black hat’ techniques. The biggest game changes amongst these updates were Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird. Today, Google makes nearly 500-600 changes to its algorithm every year.
In the end- the right approach
If you really want to get the SEO keywords and rank your content for it, you must not believe in black hat hacks and focus on two things. First, you need to do thorough keyword research, and second, you need to add them adequately to your online content. As Jordon Teicher rightly says, “SEO isn’t about gaming the system anymore, it’s about learning how to play by the rules.”