A keyword is the main term or short phrase that best describes a chunk of content online. According to our Locafy experts, using the right keywords in your online presence unlocks the full potential of the online market for small business owners, and levels the playing field between a ‘Goliath’ corporation and a ‘David’ SMB.
Here’s our guide to choosing the right keywords so you can optimise your online presence and give your local business the ability to punch outside its weight class.
There are numerous types of keywords that you can use to optimise your web pages, but all of them fit into at least one of the categories below. These categories are a great starting point for any keyword beginner and will help you choose the right keywords for your business’ needs.
A short-tail keyword, also called a ‘head keyword’ or ‘head term’, is what we normally think about when we talk about keywords. They are composed of three or less words and usually have a high keyword difficulty, meaning that they are commonly used, making it more difficult to rank with them online.
Example: short-haired dog
A long-tail keyword is a phrase or question that is at least 4 words long. It is usually more descriptive and specific than its short-tail counterpart and is also far less competitive because its audience is more targeted. With a lower keyword difficulty, they are easier to rank for and can lead to more conversions.
Example: pointed ears short-haired dogs
A short term fresh keyword is a keyword of any length that has a relatively short lifespan. These keywords are generally attached to popular news and trends. As such, their usage peaks when its subject is at its most popular, and then declines as the newscycle changes.
For example, the title of a new film may be a trending keyword up to its release, after which its popularity will fall as more people see the film and lose interest in it.
Example at the time of this article’s publication: Elvis (2022)
Short term fresh keywords aren’t to be avoided simply because of their short shelf life, though. They can actually be a powerful tool used to generate a lot of online traffic quickly.
A long term evergreen keyword is one that never loses popularity, much like evergreen trees never lose their needles. This keyword type is consistently used over time and only experiences mild usage fluctuations.
“How to fry an egg” is an example of a long-tail and long term evergreen keyword. As long as people need to learn how to fry eggs properly, you can bet this keyword will consistently remain relevant.
The first step in choosing the right keywords for your business is simple: know your business! Make a list of important words and phrases that are related to your business somehow, including the names of your products/services, locations, and relevant ideas. Consider both the technical and simplified terms that could be used to define what you do.
Next, take a look at the keywords that your business is already ranking for with an online ranking tool, such as Hubspot’s Keywords tool. This step is important because you don’t want to reuse keywords that you are already ranking for within the top three spots of search results. After all, a keyword can’t make much progress for you if it's already at the top. You can choose any of your current non-ranking keywords or new ones from your list to focus on moving forward.
Knowing which keywords your competitors are using is another big piece to the puzzle. Check out their websites and individual web pages to see which keywords are being used, how keywords are being fit into their content, and which keyword strategies seem to be effective in gathering online attention.
By doing this you can learn a lot about keyword usage, saving yourself a lot of time or costly mistakes in the process, and broadening your list of potential keywords to use.
Now that you’re well versed with the keywords that are relevant to your type of business, you need to think like your ideal customer. And the ‘ideal’ part is important. You don’t want all of the traffic on your website to come from only a small portion of your customer base. That means the majority of your customers won’t find you!
Let’s say you own a computer repair shop and 80% of your customers are unfamiliar with computer-related jargon, compared to 20% who are. Since the majority of your customers are unfamiliar with computer terminology, they’ll probably search for straightforward keywords such as “laptop screen repair” instead of more technical ones like “liquid crystal display screen repair”.
In this case, you should steer clear of the technical terms that 80% of your customers won’t think to use and won’t understand if they read those terms on your page. The whole reason to optimise your website with new keywords is to make it easier for your ideal customers to find you. So look at your list of keywords and remove any that you think your ideal customers would not think to use.
Next, use an online keyword planner to see if any of the keywords from your list are ranking well. Google has a Keyword Planner that can help you find out the keyword difficulty and search volume of any keyword you like, as does Semrush.
A planner will also let you see the keyword’s intent, difficulty, how it is trending, and related keywords. With this knowledge you can steer clear of relevant keywords that customers are ignoring, and find the ones that will be the most effective for your business.
Keyword planners are great tools to use by yourself, but nothing can beat the knowledge and skills that an SEO expert can give you. Get in touch with a Locafy rep today to see how far their keyword expertise can take your business.
Do a Google search with your keywords to see if they create a map pack (location-based search result) that highlights local businesses. Some keywords, though relevant to your business, will generate unrelated results, such as movie reviews. Make sure these aren’t the keywords you’re using!
Now that you’ve chosen your keywords, it’s time to put them on your website. Optimise each page for only one keyword by using it naturally in titles and subtitles. Doing so helps your customers navigate to the information they want, keeps your page organized, and helps the page rank for that one keyword. Be sure that your chosen keyword also matches the page’s search intent.
Another thing to keep in mind is keyword density, which compares the number of times your keyword is used to the number of other words on your page. If the density is too high, over 2%, you may be guilty of keyword stuffing, a black hat SEO technique that can have negative consequences for your web page.
Keyword stuffing, putting your keyword everywhere on your page, will not help your page to rank. Your customers will find your content awkward to read, raising the chances that they will click away. You should use your keywords in a natural way that people will want to click,read, and return to. Following Google’s E-A-T principles can help you do this.
Because language, trends, and how people interact with technology is constantly evolving, the parameters of what makes a keyword "good" are always changing too. You should revisit and update your keywords as needed at least every quarter. If your content makes use of short term fresh keywords, checking on them monthly is an even better bet.
Keeping up with changes in online language and keyword usage will help you stay relevant with your ideal customers and stay competitive with other businesses. When a new keyword pops up that fits your brand or product, use it! It’s a sure way to keep your content fresh and interesting.
Choosing the right keywords for your web pages can help you generate the relevant traffic your business needs to succeed. When you know which words define your business, use simple online tools to check keyword rankings and other data, and use keywords naturally on your pages, the customers who will value your business will be able to find you online.
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