Search engine optimization (SEO) developed organically with the rise of search engines in the 1990s. The more sites published online, the greater the need for businesses to achieve higher search rankings. Currently, Google dominates the global search engine market share, handling over 90% of all search engine queries worldwide.
The search engine giant has developed sophisticated processes to produce genuine, useful, and relevant search results. Search Intent, also known as User Intent, which is the primary goal a user has when typing in a query into a search engine, is Google’s top priority, meaning it continually strives to answer users’ queries as accurately as possible.
Today, SEO is the foundation of digital marketing. As a strategy, it considers how algorithms in search engines work to increase the quality and quantity of a website’s organic or unpaid traffic. To this end, keywords are important because they are the linchpin between a user’s intent (what they are searching for) and the content a website provides to meet that need.
SEO company MOZ describes keywords as: “Ideas and topics that define what your content is about. Regarding SEO, they are the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called search queries.”
SEO keywords are important because they define what users are looking for and help website owners, content creators, and marketers do the same. Keywords can be one or many words (referred to as long-tail keywords). For example, lawyer or best lawyers Chicago.
If a user’s search keywords match your website’s keywords, it will show up in search engine results pages (SERPs). So, let’s say you have a website for your law firm studio. You’ll want it to show up when users search for lawyers in your area. In this example, you will use keywords that best describe your page’s content—for instance, personal injury lawyers in Chicago, personal injury law firm, and so on.
Search engines like Google have over 200 ranking factors, of which on-page, off-page, and technical SEO fulfill an important role. While there isn’t a single ranking factor that can make or break SEO, relevant keywords combined with general SEO efforts produce a strong website destined to rank well.
One of the things search engines examine when ranking a page is the words and multimedia on that page. For example, if there is a blog post where the best lawyer in Chicago is used five times, then the search engine understands what the page is about and that that specific keyword is significant. Therefore, if you want to make Google comprehend what your page is about, you need to use relevant SEO keywords strategically and fairly often.
However, this has to align with what your target audience is searching for. If you use the wrong keyword phrases, you’ll never get the website traffic you need because your text doesn’t match what your potential customers are searching for. When your content strategy and optimization incorporate relevant keywords, you increase the chances of showing up in Google search results.
SEO keywords fall into three broad categories based on length, and are then further characterized according to their use:
Also called head keywords or generic keywords, these cover broad search terms and gather high volumes of traffic because they only have one or two words. They are the most challenging to rank for due to their popularity. For example, Chicago lawyers.
These consist of one to three words, which provide more description of what the user intends to search for. They generally have lower traffic volume and less competition. For example, personal injury lawyers in Chicago.
Long-tail keywords consist of four or more words. They are the most descriptive and the most specific to target in your content strategy. Because they have lower traffic volume and less competition, they offer a better chance to rank than other keywords—for example, best personal injury lawyers for car accidents in Buffalo Grove.
You should always incorporate a mix of keywords terms to ensure you have a well-balanced keyword strategy. This means using the correct types of keywords to address different search queries.
Below are nine categories of keywords digital marketers use. Although they may vary in length, their functions remain distinct.
A primary keyword is the main topic or idea of a web page that you want to rank for. Every single website page must have a primary keyword. Primary keywords have a high search volume and can bring considerable traffic to your website. For example, personal injury lawyers.
These keywords are related to the main keyword you’re targeting. They support your content by adding context, so search engines and users better recognize what your web pages are about. If you’re talking about personal injury lawyers, then LSI keywords might be good injury lawyer, accident lawyer, personal injury law firm, etc.
Market segment keywords are generic terms linked to industries, brands, or products that your target audience may use as part of their product search during the first part of their customer journey. For example, lawyer for work accident.
These terms purposefully include a brand’s name along with specific product descriptions, a product name, or a product type. Branded keywords in SEO come from customers interested in a specific company or brand. For example, Lamber Goodnow Injury Lawyers Chicago.
As the name suggests, product keywords are search terms that specifically look for certain products or services of a company. Companies should have a keyword strategy for each product and service, so prospects can find their offerings online. For example, personal injury compensation claims.
Competitive keywords are those a company’s competitors use to generate online traffic. Utilizing the same ones helps companies appear on the same search result pages as their competitors. For example, truck accident lawyer Chicago.
Geo-targeted keywords are terms that refer to a specific country, state, city, or neighborhood. These are especially useful for businesses that want users in close physical proximity to find them (local SEO). For example, personal injury lawyer Arlington Heights.
To drive quality leads to your website, you’ll need to do SEO keyword research. This uncovers terms, phrases, questions, and answers that are important to your users and customers. The keyword research process entails finding all possible search queries that may be relevant to your business and customers, and then sorting and prioritizing them, which helps inform your marketing strategy.
SEO keywords should also support your online marketing goals like capturing leads, receiving more traffic, and raising brand awareness. Any keyword research tool you use should:
Finding keywords can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack, but thankfully there are powerful tools and effective resources, like the ones below, that conduct research and analysis.
If you’ve typed something in google and seen an auto-suggest list appear, then you’ve experienced Google Suggest. This nifty algorithm was introduced in 2007 to find the best matching phrases to main seed keywords. It provides suggestions for users while they’re typing their queries into the search box. These are based on past searches, popular searches, and past search terms. Although it was created to improve user experience on Google, it’s been adopted by many SEO specialists as a method for finding possible relevant keyword opportunities.
Ahref is a popular SEO tool used to get higher Google rankings. It’s mainly used to analyze a website’s link profile, keyword rankings, and SEO health. Its keyword analysis component reveals the necessary keywords and variations thereof to improve your website’s ranking.
One of the main benefits of Ahrefs is its large backlink checking solution, its ability to dig deep into competitors’ search traffic, and its identification of what content improves your bottom line. With it, you can conduct keyword research for Google, YouTube, and Amazon. Many marketers use Ahrefs to find what’s performed impressively, in terms of social shares and/or links, on a given topic.
SEMrush is a SaaS platform used for keyword research and online ranking data, including metrics like search volume and cost per click. The software also collects information about online keywords gathered from Bing search engines. It helps organizations run digital marketing campaigns like SEP, PPC, social media marketing, and content marketing campaigns.
With the comprehensive information provided by SEMRush, businesses can identify trends in industry niches, link-building opportunities, and keyword identification. Like other keyword research and SEO software, it gives insight as to how you rank up against competition and suggests how difficult it may be to rank for specific keywords. SEMRush is well suited if you’re working on a mix of SEO and PPC projects because it includes detailed competition and distribution data.
The fundamental difference between Amazon and Google is that Google seeks to answer questions, while Amazon wants to sell products. Sellics is a PPC management and optimization software program that helps businesses optimize their listings for better rankings, travel performance metrics, as well as manage reviews on Amazon.
As the leading software for Amazon vendors, it provides keyword recommendations and easily identifies optimization potential across entire product ranges. More than that, Sellics is a convenient tool for Amazon sellers who want to centralize their stats, saving time and enabling greater efficiency, without needing separate tools and extensions.
This free Chrome extension is a powerful keyword research tool that reveals monthly keyword search volume, cost-per-click, and competition data. It works by analyzing keywords, backlinks, and domain data to give you an idea of how valuable and competitive a keyword is. Ubersuggest provides insight into strategies that work for others, so you can improve them and gain a competitive edge.
SEO is about making the users’ experience as enjoyable as possible. Often this requires making incremental improvements, that, when combined with other optimizations, have a noticeable impact on website traffic.
Tools such as Google Analytics, SEMrush, and others we’ve mentioned help find the best keywords for SEO. If your website is already online, you’ll want to perform an SEO audit to learn which pages will benefit from improvements. Newly launched websites designed with an SEO keyword strategy require time up-and-running before you’re able to accurately determine where else additional improvements can be achieved.
Keyword strategies should be reviewed on a quarterly basis and at least 3-6 months before any campaigns or promotions. Your homepage, about page, contact page, and blog are the most important. The home page is of particular importance because it’s the first page visitors land on and the first impression users get of a business.
They need only stay on this page for a few seconds before deciding whether to investigate further or leave to a competing site. Headings on homepages should be easy to read, and icons should have clear and enticing calls-to-action (CTA’s). The goal is to capture the visitor’s attention and prevent them from leaving. When looking to improve pages, always start with the homepage.
Google ranks individual pages and not websites as a whole, meaning each page has the potential to rank for the topic it covers (the focus keyword). This can be supplemented further by secondary keywords, broadening the page’s reach. Hence, the importance of keyword research! And if you want a page to rank for a specific term, you should make it the focus keyword on that page.
Below are common places where keywords are needed:
Hashtags provide social SEO that’s quick, instant, trends, and can improve traffic when used correctly even though they don’t have longevity. Incorporating keywords into your social media expands reach and drives traffic to your digital properties. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy, so you’ll need custom approaches.
Success on social media depends on keyword usage and content creation. These platforms are inherently unpredictable as they can change algorithms at any time, which drastically impacts organic reach. For example, Instagram has changed its algorithm many times and has stopped showing posts in chronological order, instead it displays images most valuable for the user.
For this reason, most businesses hire social media experts who keep abreast of these changes and tweak marketing strategies accordingly. Social media is an important aspect of digital marketing. Despite its volatility, it garners powerful results when selectively used to achieve business aims.
While there are best practices, there is no magic formula to selecting the correct keywords because it comes down to user intent. Once you understand what your target audience is looking for, you can allocate the correct words to your web copy and content marketing. There are four ways of describing user intent:
When you know how to categorize keywords from your research, you can use this information to build your content strategy, ensuring you’re meeting users’ needs whenever they find your information. Most make the mistake of assuming that if the keyword personal injury lawyer has the highest volume, then they must pepper their content with it. This can sometimes produce adverse effects because high-volume keywords are used by most, whereas long-tail and lower volume keywords stand a better chance of ranking higher.
As you can ascertain, SEO keyword selection is a complex process that requires expertise. Generally, you’ll want to use a combination of different types of keywords, depending on content objectives.
Sometimes brands engage in keyword stuffing in an attempt to rank higher. This practice entails “stuffing” the same target terms throughout a page’s copy in an inorganic and clunky way, producing an undesirable user experience. If Google determines you’re guilty of keyword stuffing, it can demote your page or remove it altogether.
Most SEO experts believe the ideal keyword density is around 1-5%. This means the target keyword appears about one to five times per 100 words. In general, from the time you begin implementing SEO, you need at least six months for it to start yielding results. The top three results in organic search receive 75% of all clicks, and websites in those ranks have generally been around for at least a year.
This isn’t to discourage SEO efforts, but rather to illustrate the implementation of SEO keywords is a long-term strategy. This is why content marketing is fundamental to digital marketing. Rolling out a consistent stream of content keeps your website and SEO relevant. If 53.3% of total website traffic comes from organic search, then SEO is definitely an online marketing investment that every company should make.
As long as search engines remain commonplace in everyday life, organic results will continue to exist, and SEO keywords will maintain their value in digital marketing. SEO success relies on tactics and timing. Keywords are dynamic and must reflect changes in language and business focus. Don’t let the challenge of keeping up with SEO best practices dampen your marketing ambitions.
Let Comrade Digital Marketing Agency help you! We specialize in SEO marketing. After one year of SEO, our clients experience +40% ROI. Our top-rated SEO consultants provide a full range of SEO services. From SEO keyword research to creating engaging content, we promise, you’ll see the growth your business deserves. We guarantee, our SEO services will elevate your business to the next level. Receive your free SEO audit today!
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