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Your guide to understanding keywords

There’s no point investing in a website if you don’t optimise it for search engines. Developing a deeper understanding of keywords will improve your SEO and enable you to create more effective Google Adword campaigns.

Here are five things you should know about keywords:

  1. The difference between ‘head’ keywords and ‘long-tail’ keywords

A ‘head’ keyword consists of a single word such as ‘shoes’ or ‘exercise’, while ‘long-tail’ keywords consist of three or more words that resemble an inquiry such as ‘best shoes for mountain climbing’ or ‘exercise for octogenarians’.

If you sell shoes or offer exercise classes, you might think that you should concentrate on the ‘head’ keywords. But, if you try searching for ‘shoes’ in Google, you’ll soon realise how competitive this keyword is. There are literally thousands of businesses in the world that sell shoes.

However, if you concentrate on a ‘long-tail’ keyword, you might have more success at attracting qualified leads to your website. You need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about the language they would use to find your products or services online.

Takeaway: It’s all about balance. When planning your keyword list include a good mix of head and long-tail keywords. Although long-tail keywords are less likely to be searched for, they’re also less competitive than head keywords which mean you can keep your Google Adwords campaigns within budget.

  • The right way to use keywords in your content

In the past, stuffing keywords into every line of copy on your site was a way to boost your ranking on search engines. Google soon realised that people were taking advantage of this loophole and introduced changes to their algorithm to discourage this practise.

So, forget everything you’ve ever read about how many times you should be using keywords in your copy and aim to write for people instead. Search engines are now smart enough to know that ‘book’ and ‘books’ is the same thing, so you can introduce keyword variations into your copy.

Takeaway: Your focus shouldn’t be on the keywords, but rather the user experience that your copy, images and navigation create. Google favours sites that provide their visitors with information that relates to their search query.

  • What your customers are looking for

The keywords you choose should be seek to answer the queries your customers type into the search bar to find your business. That’s where long-tail keywords can be very effective.

Taking the example above, it’s unlikely that anyone will simply use the word ‘shoes’ to find a shoe store online. They’re more likely to be looking for a specific kind of shoe, and it’s possible that they’re using Google to research what’s available before they make a purchase.

Takeaway: Think about what keywords customers would use at different stages of the buying process. If they’re researching a topic then they may use keywords such as ‘best shoes for mountain climbing’. If they’re ready to purchase then the keyword ‘affordable mountain climbing shoes’ is more likely to grab their attention and persuade them to visit your site.

  • The size of your keyword list

It may be tempting to simply throw in every keyword you think is relevant, but it’s far better to have a small list of effective keywords. You can use Google’s Keyword Tool to find out the search volume for the keywords you’ve chosen, and use this information to narrow your list down.

Takeaway: You should review your keyword list at regular intervals throughout the year. Search trends do change so if you find a keyword that’s no longer performing as well as it did in the past, you can remove it from your list. You may also discover new keywords to add to your list.

Always focus on your customer’s needs

The right keywords are crucial for a successful SEO strategy. Whether you’re looking to boost your organic ratings or set up PPC campaigns, the right mix of keywords will make it easier for search engines to catalogue your site correctly.

But ultimately, you should provide your prospects with relevant, useful information if you want to convert them into paying customers. A thorough understanding of your target market will make choosing the right keywords much easier. Think about why, how and when they may be looking for what you have to offer.

Everything from the words and language they use, to the type information they’re looking for, will help you form an effective list of keywords. And if you need assistance with your SEO or digital marketing, Web Changes has all the experience and expertise required to help you create a complete strategy.

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