We all know that SEO can be a bit of a dark art, what with search engine algorithms changing regularly, the millions being spend on paid search results and so on.
That said, there are some basic steps that all website owners can take to ensure their site is optimised for search engines, to increase the chances of a visitor landing on their site. The first of these is keywords and this is what I will cover in this blogpost.
Keywords are words and phrases, used on their own or grouped together and make up the different elements of your website: web pages, blog posts, image descriptions, etc. They play a big part in determining whether your site will be found by the search engines. As the search spiders crawl around the internet, they group content by key word, or topic. This means that Google, for example, has hundreds of millions of databases organised by key words, sentences and phrases. This enables Google to find the information that the searcher is looking for much more quickly than if everything was stored in one big, jumbled-up database.
There are two types of keywords - Head keywords, which are often single words or short terms but with a very large search volume. For example '“runners” or “hotel” or “doctor”. It is hard to rank well for these words as they are so generic and can be found in so many places on the internet.
The second type of keywords are longtail keywords. These are descriptive phrases or sentences and are much more target specific. For example “family lawyer in Dun Laoghaire” or "website designer for architects in Dublin”. Given that these keywords are more specific, they are usually easier to rank well for.
If you want to dominate the search results for certain keywords, you’ll have to get really specific in how you use them on your site. Also, most people searching on the internet now know that if they type in a specific search request, they are more likely to get a search result that matches what they are looking for.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR KEYWORDS
When you think about which keywords you want to include on your site, it is important to research what kinds of words people use on their online searches. It is the wording of these searches that you want to match as much as possible in your site content. Think about the words people type into Google in order to find digital content (like what’s on your website!) and that’s basically what keywords are.
STEPS TO KEYWORD PLANNING:
Before starting anything, think about your mission. Think about questions like: Who are you? What is your website about? What makes you special? Who are you trying to reach? And what promises do you make on your website?
The second step of keyword research is creating a list of your keywords. With your mission in mind, try to get into the heads of your potential buyers. What will these people be looking for? What kind of search terms could they be using while looking for your amazing service or product? Ask yourself these questions and write down as many answers as possible.
If your mission is clear, you will have a pretty clear image of your niche and your USP. These are the terms you want to be found for.
Today’s SEO strategies should for the most part revolve around answering the questions people have. Whenever someone enters a search query into a search engine, they are on a quest for something. Every type of question needs a specific answer.
When planning your content, always ask yourself these questions. There are four types of intents:
Informational intent: Just like it says on the tin, people are trying to find information on a specific topic.
Navigational intent: People want to access a specific website by entering the term in a search engine.
Commercial intent: People want to buy something sometime soon and are doing research before making a purchase.
Transactional intent: People are looking to buy something after doing their commercial intent searches.
Find out which kinds of intent apply to you and try to match these search intents, literally giving people what they want.
TOOLS FOR RESEARCHING THE KEYWORDS YOU NEED TO USE
There are several tools for doing keyword research. The most obvious one is Google itself
There’s the “autosuggest” feature for generating an almost infinite number of keyword ideas. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using Google for keyword research.
For starters, take notice of the “People also ask” box that shows up for some searches. These are questions that Google knows searchers are asking and want to know the answers to.
And here’s a quick trick: Click on any of these questions, and Google will load more.
I will do another more detailed blog post on how to perform Keyword Research but for now let’s say you know what are the most popular words being searched for online that are relevant to your business - these are the keywords that are most important to you.
It’s important to know what keywords make sense for your website and business because you’re going to use them extensively. Once you’ve got your list of keywords sorted out, the next step is figuring out where to put them on your website.
WHERE TO PUT YOUR KEYWORDS
Search engines use keywords to understand what the content of web pages, blog posts, products, images, etc. are all about. Keywords play such a huge role in making sure the Google search spiders can “read” and then index the content of your site.
We can use keywords strategically in title and headers on webpages or in blog posts to indicate importance to search engines, but keywords are also incorporate into body text. Just be sure to stick to natural language so that you are not keyword stuffing - which is putting keywords into every sentence or all over your site in a way that is unnatural. You will get penalised by the search engines for doing that.
It is also really important to include keywords in the image titles and descriptions on your site, as Google reads these words in a way that it cannot read images alone.
Here’s a list of the key places where it makes sense to use keywords on your website for SEO:
SEO title & description fields on each page
Headers (e.g., on pages, in blog posts, etc.)
Event or product descriptions in your online shop
No matter what type of website you have, whether it is a Squarespace site or something else, you should be using keywords strategically.
You can reach out to me directly if you’re interested in working together on your website or would like help reviewing your existing SEO. There is, of course, a lot more to SEO than just keywords, but I will leave them to another blog post.
Thanks for reading!