SEO Basics: Understanding Keywords & Keyword Phrases

Posted by Ken Semple

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An SEO Strategy starts with search keyword selectionSearch engines have become a core resource for individuals looking for a business, product, or service. Over the years, online search has reduced the need for traditional means of searching, such as the Yellow Pages.

People use search engines differently than they used to use the the Yellow Pages. People searched the Yellow Pages when the knew what they needed and were ready to buy.

People use search engines to do research, and may know nothing yet about what they need or who can provide it. All they know is that they have a problem they need fixed.

The first thing they do is type a search keyword or keyword phrase into a search engine.

Why do keywords matter?

Some US research has revealed that 95% of the US Internet using population access search engines each month, and they make an average of 37 search engine visits per month. That’s more than one search engine visit and many searches per day.

How do they start their searches? They type something into the search box of the search engine’s search page.

What they type into the search box are keywords. Keywords can be just one word and now, more commonly, a number of words or a question. When more than one word is entered into the search box we call it a “keyword phrase”.

Search engines use the keyword or keyword phrase entered to query their database looking for what they think are the most appropriate web pages for that search keyword.

Keywords matter because that’s what people search on.

What are “long tail keywords”

You might have heard of the term “long tail keywords”, this is another name for a keyword phrase.

It’s easier to optimise your website for long tail keywords or keyword phrases because there is much less competition for these. Here is an example:

  1. SEO

  2. SEO Company

  3. SEO Company in Newcastle

  4. SEO Company in Newcastle Australia

See how these search keywords are getting more specific. “SEO” is going to return anything about SEO whereas “SEO Company in Newcastle Australia” will return results about SEO Companies in Newcastle Australia. If you’re after a company to help you with your SEO and you want a company which is located in Newcastle Australia, search 4 will give you a much better result.

How you determine your keywords

My simple example above shows you how people search when they know what they need. Most people don’t know what they need and are searching for answers to their problems. Their search keywords a more likely to be something like:

  • How do i make more money from my website

  • I need more visitors to my website

These are the sort of questions people will ask before they know they need help with their SEO. You need to optimise your website for both types of keyword phrases.

To determine what keywords your customers will type into Google, you need to understand who they are. Do some research on your ideal customers, who they are as people, and define Personas for them.

Once you know your customer personas and how they’ll use a search engine to find you, you use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to find variations on these keywords.

Make sure you track your keyword success

It’s pointless investing time and effort into a Search Engine Optimisation strategy if you don’t measure the key driver of your success, how the keywords you’re targeting are ranking in the search engines.

Standard analytics tools like Google Analytics will tell you a lot about the visitors on your website. How many visitors you’re getting, where they come from and what they do there.

Standard analytics tools don’t track your rankings for the keywords you’ve decided to target. You need to use a specialised SEO tool like Moz or HubSpot to do that.

Package your keywords into campaigns. Write content to those campaigns and track how your rankings are changing over time. Separating your keywords into campaigns makes it easier to track your results as you focus on different areas of your SEO strategy over time.

Key Takeaway

An SEO strategy starts with keyword selection. Make sure you choose the right keywords and a mix of keywords and keyword phrases and track your results.

You don’t need to take my word on how to put together your SEO strategy. You can learn from the experts. We’ve put together an eBook “Learning SEO From The Experts” with each chapter being contributed by a different SEO industry expert. Download it now...


Download our free eBook - Learning SEO From The Experts

Topics: SEO

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