What are Keywords?
Keywords are what connects your content to the people searching for it. Keywords for small businesses are important as they are the search terms that people enter into search engines. Interestingly they’re not just words, as the name might suggest. They are also the phrases people use to search.
Let’s say I’m looking for a dog groomer in my area.
The words I could use are ‘dog groomer lincoln’ but a phrase I could also use is ‘best dog groomers in the Lincoln area.’ These are both examples of keywords that a dog groomer in Lincoln could and should try and rank for.
The idea behind search engine optimisation (SEO) and keywords is to understand the phrases people use. These people are those you want to attract to your site, introduce your brand too and convert into customers.
Intention and Keywords
It’s useful to know that search engines are focusing more and more on the intention of the person searching, rather than the exact keywords and their matches. Effectively researching keywords will help you to better understand why people search for the things they do.
If you imagine yourself as a consumer, what do you type into search engines? Using my dog grooming example earlier, there are literally thousands of variations. Unless you’re an SEO super genius, you’ll never know all of those search terms.
So, start small and work your way up.
Keyword research is an ever-evolving practice and it can be time-consuming. As a small business owner, we know that time is money.
Our advice would be to break keyword research and implementation down into small, manageable chunks. This way you can fit it in to your busy schedule AND approach it step-by-step. Keywords for small businesses need not be a daunting prospect!
Why are Keywords Important?
The common goal ALL businesses online – small or large – share is to drive traffic to your website. Not only that, but to do so organically which is both better in the eyes of Google and also kinder on the purse strings.
Essentially, you want to capture the people searching on the internet and entice them to your website. Keywords are what help with this and determine the type of traffic you get.
On the topic of traffic types, here’s where we consider relevance.
Making sure the key words and phrases you’re going after are relevant is very important. There is an obvious reason why but also think of misinterpretation.
We love this example from Moz:
“If you own a golf shop, you might want to rank for “new clubs” — but if you’re not careful, you might end up attracting traffic that’s interested in finding a new place to dance after dark”
So, you see? It pays dividends to be more specific with search terms. Here an easy remedy would be to rank for “new golf clubs” which would totally eliminate traffic looking for a good time.
Keywords are important as they’re in the process of how Google works.
1. Google’s spiders crawl the web by visiting web pages (e.g. your website)
2. Then they add optimised pages (ones that have great content, accurate descriptions etc.) to their index and catalogue them (nice and organised)
3. When people search, Google uses this catalogued information to show the best results based on the search terms
4. People visit the websites that come up on the result pages
5. Hey presto! Website traffic
Keywords also are a reflection of your website.
If you could condense all your website content (text, images, video etc) into simple words and phrases, they are your primary keywords. If all the content on your website is accurate to your business, you are on the right lines.
What is our advice here? CUT THE WAFFLE!
Let’s look at your website content. This ranges from the introduction and about us through to product or service descriptions and blog pages. Do they clearly define what your business does? Does it obviously show to visitors the information they need?
If it doesn’t, Google will pick up on that and it won’t be in your favour.
Aside from keywords, the content on your site should be as clear as day anyway.
Today’s consumers are savvy and will get the information they want, whether you want to give them it or not. Don’t try and hide behind smoke and mirrors – tell them what they want to know! Does your product/service solve their problems/fulfil their needs?
Yes – great! No? That’s ok – focus on those that will.
How to Get Started
First thing’s first. You need to understand the needs of the visitors you’d like to attract.
Here are some ways of doing that:
Talk to your customers!
In attempting to find new customers, don’t forget about your current ones. They are a gold mine of information as they have actively chosen to spend money with you (and hopefully, on repeat). Reach out to them in whatever manner you feel most comfortable. It could be through a poll on your social media, an email newsletter, an enquiry form on your website or simply face to face/over the phone. Ask them how they came across your brand, what they would type into Google, what specific things they’re looking for. This will give you a good starting point
Expand into wider groups
Forums and community groups are a GREAT place to get genuine feedback from people (who probably aren’t even your customers!). By understanding their consumer habits better, you can start to get a picture of their online behaviour.
There’s no denying that keyword research isn’t technical. Using online tools will really benefit your research. We recommend using Moz’s Keyword Explorer. Here you can find information on keywords which will benefit your research, especially their Keyword Suggestions feature.
How to Use Keywords Effectively
As we explained earlier, Google looks at (crawls) your website and all the content on there. It does this to understand if a website if a good match for a search query and what value it offers.
Logically speaking, your content is a good place to start! Use common sense when writing copy for your pages. There’s no need for essays on every page, but you do need to include at least some information.
Here are out top 4 tips:
- Use keywords but DON’T STUFF
Keyword stuffing is the practice of cramming in as many keywords as possible in the hope Google will a) reward you for it and b) not notice what you’re up to. Be mindful of the key words and phrases your targeting and use them naturally. Have you noticed in this blog how many times I’ve said ‘keywords’? Probably not because that’s the topic. It’s also what this blog will rank for. So, I have written with both the reader and SEO in mind.
- Write something for every page
As a general rule of thumb, 100-200 words on each page is enough. It’s enough to give a visitor/Google a good idea about the web page/site without bombarding people. Pages with no content are not well-optimised and that will reflect in search engine result pages.
- Be on your spelling and grammar game
To be clear, Google has said that spelling and grammar are not ranking factors. A sigh of relief for many. However, John Mueller from the search engine giant did later say:
“It is more a matter of how it is received from a user point of view. If you are a banking web site and you have terrible English on it, then I assume users will lose trust in your web site. But for other things, it is the way the web just comes.”
No-one will trust a site that is riddled with typos and poor grammar. If you’re not great with spelling and grammar, give us a shout. It’s our thing!
- H1 Tag
Without going into too much detail, this is the heading of the page. This is your hook, the way to grab someone’s attention so make it snappy. They should also match the user intent aka what people are looking for. Let’s say I’m writing an article on the benefits of running. Users will probably search for that phrase, or alternatives such as “why is running good for me.” If your H1 tag/title is “Start running today,” will it capture the people who want to know the benefits of running? Probably not.
Believe it or not, for small businesses there isn’t THAT much work that needs doing with keywords to begin with to get ahead of the game. Following these basic tips will help you to make some necessary changes. Hopefully you have a better idea of keywords, what they are, how they work and why they’re important.
Keywords is such an in-depth topic that we couldn’t possibly cover it all in one blog. Get in touch if you’d like more insight, to clarify doubts, or just to chat!