SEO is built largely around relevance, and relevance comes from keywords. That means, if your business focuses on flood restoration, you don’t necessarily want your website popping up in the search results for “fire damage,” as those people aren’t likely to have any interest in your services (at least not at that moment). But you do want the search engine to list your website as a result for “water damage,” “flooded basement,” or “flood repair.”
If that makes sense to you, then you understand how keywords work. And that’s a big part of SEO. You see, Google is always trying to do a better job at what it does, which is provide the most relevant and valuable information that matches the searcher’s request. So on one end, it’s evaluating your website and content. On the other, it’s trying to do a better job at determining exactly what the searcher means by the few words he or she has typed into the search bar.
Together this is all factored in to rank millions of websites according to what will be the most useful for the searcher. You only have control over one end of the equation, and that’s the one that tells Google that your website is the most relevant for a specific search query, or a specific keyword or phrase.
There are likely lots of keywords that describe your business, services, and content, so to optimize your site, you’ll be focusing on more than one keyword or phrase. Here are a few different types to consider.
Branded terms: Branded keywords or branded terms are words that include your business name or your personal name. These are useful when you’ve established your brand and a reputation for your business, as people who hear about you will look you up by name to find you more easily.
Broad keywords: Broad keywords are also known as “short-tail keywords.” They’re best described as category terms. These include keywords like “restoration,” “flood,” and “home damage.” Try a quick Google search on one of these terms, and you’ll see millions of search results, which is why you won’t be relying on these to bump up your SEO.
Geographic terms: Geographic terms are also referred to as local keywords. Local terms are a word that describes your product, article topic, or business combined with a city, state, or region name. So a local keyword could be something like “Chicago remodeling” or “mold remediation in Wisconsin.” Google often knows where the user is located, and will use this information to show local businesses to searchers–even if the searcher doesn’t actually type the local keyword in the search box.
Long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are highly specific phrases that narrow the possibilities of relevant websites, sometimes significantly. Long-tail keywords include adjectives and other words in combination with a broad category or general term. When a user enters a long-tail phrase into the search box, it narrows down the number of possible web pages that match the query. Web pages optimized for long-tail keywords bring less competition from other sites making it easier to rank near the top of the results.
Help! I Need Keywords!
If you’re stuck for keywords to use for your site, online tools, such as Keyword Tool and WordStream, are better bets than what you may come up with on your own. Simply type in a term or phrase, and you’re off to finding top ranking search terms that can help lead people to your site.
The general rule of thumb is to optimize each page (not each website, but each individual page within your website) with two keywords: a primary keyword that easily identifies the page and a secondary keyword that is variation of the first, such as a plurals or a synonyms. Google considers synonyms when evaluating searches and calculating results. Including a mix of your target keyword along with a few natural variations and synonyms helps Google understand that your web page is a better match.
No Time for SEO?
If you feel like SEO and keywords are too savvy for your online marketing skills, we’re here to help! Partner with us, and we’ll help get your site more searchable without taking up any of your precious time!