Keywords may not be the cornerstone of search engine optimization
(SEO) they once were, but they’re still an important factor of growing traffic. In earlier days, some digital marketers would overuse keywords on their website, known as “keyword stuffing,” to push their rankings higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines have evolved, becoming much smarter and more efficient. Whether you’re new to digital marketing
or a savvy professional, we’ll break down everything you need to know about keywords so you can squeeze the most benefits out of them.
What are keywords?
A keyword is a word or several words that define the meaning and purpose of your content. In SEO, they’re the words and phrases that users enter in search engines to find specific information. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising like Google Ads also use keywords to trigger ads for relevant search queries. Keywords essentially describe what a particular piece of content is about and serve as one factor out of many that search engines use to properly rank content and help users find relevant content to their search queries.
For example, let’s say you search on Google, “What is the history of wine?" A blog post that ranks for the keyword phrase “history of wine” would appear on the first SERP.
How do I find keywords?
There are a variety of free and paid tools you can use to find keywords for your website. However, it’s crucial to take certain steps before building your content around keywords that aren’t right for your website.
- Define your target audience: Research who your target audience is and what questions you can answer or problems you can solve for them.
- Narrow your focus: Targeting a wide variety of keywords can dilute the effectiveness of your SEO. Narrow down your focus to make your content more relevant to users. It also helps for discovering less competitive keywords which are easier to rank for on SERPS.
- Collect data, analyze results, and repeat: Keep track of how your website performs for keywords by setting up Google Analytics and Search Console.
You can come up with your keywords by first making a general list. Then, you can use free tools like Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to see the search volume for your keywords to help narrow down your focus. In Google Analytics and Search Console, you can see the search queries that brought users to your website which can possibly be good keywords to target. For more in-depth data, there are paid tools like SEMRush, Moz, and SpyFu which can help you discover new keywords, examine keyword difficulty, track competitor keyword rankings, and more.
What is keyword difficulty?
Keyword difficulty is a measure of how hard it is to rank well for a particular keyword. In addition to how many pages are already ranking for the keyword, domain authority and paid search volume also are factored into determining keyword difficulty. The higher a keyword’s difficulty, the harder it will be to rank high on SERPs because there’s more competition, and vice versa, the lower a keyword's difficulty, the easier it is to rank for that keyword.
What is keyword density?
Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword appears on a specific page compared to the total words on the page. In the lens of SEO, keyword density can be used to determine whether a page is relevant to a keyword.
How to calculate keyword density:
- Identify the keyword
- Count the total number of words on the page
- Divide the number of times the keyword appears with the page’s total word count
- Multiply by 100
For example, if a blog post has 1,200 words and the keyword appears 12 times, it has a keyword density of 1%.
While there is debate whether there’s an “optimal” keyword density, where the keyword appears on the page matters more. Always use the keyword in the page’s title and body content. Although not as critical, including the keyword in the page’s headings, meta description, URL, and image alt tags are also helpful.
Creating a Keyword Strategy for Your Business
Having a keyword strategy is beneficial for digital marketing in many ways - it gives your SEO a focus, makes it easier to develop content, track results in analytics, and more. Let the digital marketing experts at Sales & Marketing Technologies improve your website’s online presence by developing a personalized keyword strategy.