If you’ve ever had anything to do with creating a website before then you’ve probably been told to use keywords to boost your SEO and increase traffic. It’s standard advice but also some of the most misunderstood in web design. 
It’s also true that over the years the way that search engines use and react to keywords has changed. However, very often the way people implement them has not. Which means that many sites are stuffed full of either irrelevant or unnecessary keywords. But, the bottom line is that they are still an important and even essential part of SEO practice. 
 
Whether you’re starting a new website from scratch and trying to launch with as much impact as possible or giving an old site a boost, using keywords can be a very effective way to increase your site’s visibility. But let’s start at the beginning. 

What are keywords? 

In essence, they are the elements that define what your content is about. If you had to break down what you’re trying to communicate into a two or three word phrase, this would be a keyword. They are also the phrases that users would put into a search engine if they were looking for your content. 
 
These are called search queries and they’re a great place to start when searching for relevant keywords. But we’ll get to that later. 
 
As a website owner, you need to think about making your keywords as relevant as possible to what people are searching for. 

Why are keywords so important? 

Keywords anchor the phrases that people are searching for to your content, which in turn drives traffic to your site through search engines. The higher you’re ranked in the various search engines, the more traffic will organically visit your site. 
 
The keywords you choose to target influence the types of people who visit your site. That means that keywords need to be relevant to the kinds of goods and services that you offer and there can’t be any ambiguity about what these key terms refer to. Remember that words sometimes have more than one meaning. 
 
It also pays to spend some time thinking about how your target audience might search for a product. That means doing some keyword research but also having a grasp of the language used and the browsing habits of the demographic your product is aimed at. 

Choosing your keywords 

This doesn’t have to be too technical a process. As mentioned above, spend some time trying to get to know your customers and find out the kind of language they use and the kinds of products they’re searching for. It can be all too easy to forget the human element of keyword research and just focus on the technical aspects, but it’s well worth spending some time in the real world trying to understand how your customers think. 
 
There are also various tools out there that let you search for the most commonly used keywords. If your site already exists, then you can set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics in order to access all the data Google gathers about the way traffic finds your website. 
 
There are also tools that let you look at the most popular keyword terms across all other websites – such as Ubersuggest. It will take some time to do your keyword research, but this kind of data is very valuable in ensuring you’re targeting the right people. Very often it’s about understanding which keywords not to use as much as which ones are suitable. That’s because keyword competition can be very intense. 

Long-tail keywords 

As competition for the most commonly used keywords can be very tough, it might be a better idea to target more specific keywords. These are called long-tail keywords and allow you to target customers who are looking for more tailored services. 
 
For example, using the term ‘golf lessons’ would see your keyword competing with thousands of other golf lesson suppliers from around the world. But the term ‘cheap golf lessons in Milton Keynes’ will see you target a much more specific audience. Again, it’s about understanding how people use search engines to locate the things they need. 
 
If you do your research and target the right long-tail keywords, this can be a very successful way of driving traffic to your site. 

Evergreen or topical 

Keywords can be broken down into more categories, depending on their nature. For example, some keywords have long-lasting appeal and will be relevant over long periods. These are called evergreen keywords. In contrast, keywords that have a more short term or limited appeal are called topical. Using a mixture on your site can help to give it both long-lasting and current appeal. 

How to optimise your site for keywords 

So, just how do you go about making sure your site is optimised for keywords and is working as hard as it can for you? First, you need to make sure you have keywords in the right parts of your site. 
 
That means ensuring that your URLs have been keyword optimised. Because these rarely or never change, they’re a great place to try and include some relevant keywords. They’re also a very obvious place for search engines to find them. 
 
The page titles on your website are also a good place to put keywords. Page titles influence both the rankings and the click-through rate, and keywords can help with both. You can also put keywords in the meta descriptions for your pages. 
 
Ideally, you want your most visible content to be well optimised for keywords - not just in the body text, but also headings. Check which are the most visited pages of your site and ensure that these have been improved for keywords, with titles and bolded phrases being even more visible. 
 
Internal links and the surrounding content are also great places to put keywords, as again this is where information can stand out. 
 
Making sure your site is well optimised for keywords, especially when you’re starting your site from scratch, can give it a big boost. If you would like to know more about how to ensure you’re taking full advantage of the power of keywords, get in touch with a member of our team
 
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