Keywords are an essential part of digital marketing
but there's often confusion about what they are and how to use them. While the practice of "keyword stuffing" used to be common in the early days of search engine optimization
(SEO), it can now get your website in trouble.
This is because 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 uses keywords to trigger ads for relevant search queries.
Keywords are 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 popular 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 on the first SERP.
- 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 (available in Google Ads) 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, Ahrefs, and Moz that can help you discover new keywords, examine keyword difficulty, track competitor 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 by 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 isn't an exact “optimal” keyword density, it's important to use your target keyword and keyword variations throughout the content in a way that reads naturally.
Always use the keyword in the page’s title and body content. Including the keyword in the subheadings, meta description, URL, and image alt tags are also helpful.
Fine-Tune Your Keyword Strategy
Having a keyword strategy is beneficial for digital marketing in many ways — it gives your SEO a focus and makes it easier to develop content, track results in analytics, and more. Let Sales & Marketing Technologies improve your website’s online presence by refining your keyword strategy. Schedule a free discovery call today!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.