Keywords – the building blocks of SEO

There’s a lot written about search engine optimisation or SEO and if you keep up with current information you’ll know that the SEO landscape is constantly changing. However, basic SEO principles still apply today and are likely to in the future. Perhaps the most important of these principles is keywords, or more correctly, keyword phrases.

Put simply, if you choose the correct keywords for your business and use these keywords intelligently across your website, you’re likely to achieve good rankings in the search engines, including Google.

Choosing your keywords

One of the most important things to remember about search engines is that their primary task is to provide relevant results for visitors, not to put your website in the top 10. That’s why one of the first tasks you should undertake when considering SEO for your website is to research the keyword phrases that people will type in to search engines to find a business such as yours.

There are a number of basic factors to consider, including:

  • Relevance – generally, your keyword phrases should be directly related to your business. It serves no purpose to get top rankings for ‘red widget’ if in fact you sell blue widgets.
  • Specific, but not too specific – Don’t choose a keyword phrase that is so specific that very few people will search for it.
  • Competitiveness – some keyword phrases are simply too competitive for the average business to focus on.
  • Writability – While there’s no such word, it’s an apt way of remembering that it’s better to choose keywords that make sense when included in a sentence.

Keyword research tools

There are a number of keyword tools available – some free and some not – to help you with your keyword research.

The one I generally use is the Google keyword too. Not only is it free, but it provides valuable information on keywords that people type into the world’s number one search engine – Google. Google is certainly not the only search engine available to users but it’s easily the most popular and therefore is the most important for SEO purposes.

To find the Google keyword tool, type ‘Google keyword tool’ into, you guessed it, Google (or any search engine for that matter)!

A case study

Let’s take a look at an example to illustrate how to undertake your keyword research. Let’s assume you have a recruitment business in the Bayside area of Melbourne, Australia, that specifically finds marketing jobs for job-seekers.

A quick look at the Google keyword tool shows us that the keyword phrase ‘recruitment’ is not particularly competitive and has a huge number of searches worldwide and indeed in Australia. A great keyword, you might think, but imagine people’s disappointment when they go to your website to find out you only offer recruitment for marketing jobs. This keyword is not relevant enough.

You could focus on ‘marketing recruitment’ or ‘recruitment Melbourne’ but again these keywords could be more relevant. You could focus on ‘marketing jobs Bayside Melbourne’ but this is too specific and isn’t searched for enough. ‘Marketing recruitment Melbourne’ could be another potential keyword, but another check with our tool shows that this keyword is highly competitive and search volumes are quite low.

A better choice, in my opinion, would be ‘marketing jobs Melbourne’. Competition is only medium, search volumes are 880 per month worldwide and 590 in Australia and the phrase is very relevant to your business. Plus, you can use this keyword in content by including ‘marketing jobs in Melbourne’, with the inclusion of the word ‘in’ having no affect in most search engines.

While this is a very simple example – and certainly isn’t thorough – hopefully it helps illustrate how to look for keyword phrases that can be valuable to your website.

Use them!

The next step, of course, is to make sure you use your chosen keyword phrases in all important parts of the website. This includes in the content (several times if possible), in bullet points and in links to other parts of your website. For those with knowledge of website development, you should also use the keywords in title tags, description meta tags, alt tags, permalinks and in links from other websites.

Do all this and you’ll be well on the way to getting good rankings in search engines. And, hopefully, converting lots of your website visitors into customers!

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