A massively important question posed by businesses investing in organic search engine optimisation (SEO) is, am I using the right keywords?

It’s important because if you are not using the right keywords, then you are not going to pull in enough of s search volume to make an impact on your sales. So, how do you know if the keywords you’ve chosen to focus your SEO campaign on are the ones that people are actually using to search for products or services like yours?

The trouble with keywords is that they form quite an intense subject, and the majority of the information out there is on a par with rocket science. Google itself defines a keyword as ‘an informative word used in an information retrieval system to indicate content of a document’. Great – couldn’t be clearer!

Keywords

Are you using the right keywords in your content?

What are Keywords?

So what actually is a keyword, in English? It has to be: a word of significance that someone searching for something uses in order to fulfil their search goal.

In technical terms, keywords take on a set of four forms:

Broad keywords: A single word or phrase that sums something up in brief. For example, ‘shoes’ or ‘jewellery’. These keywords will fit in with what you offer with ease, however they will also work for a plethora of competitors.

Fat head keywords: A short collection of broad keywords that more clearly define a search. So for example, ‘high heeled shoes’ or ‘wedding jewellery’. These are mainly used by people looking to make a purchase.

Chunky middle keywords: These are the keywords that most companies will be competing for. They are more realistically what people will be using to search for something specific. For example, ‘high heeled shoes to match a red and black dress’, or ‘bespoke wedding jewellery ideas’. These are generally used by people seeking inspiration.

Long tail keywords: These are longer phrases that people generally use to source information. For example, ‘how to match the perfect outfit for a day at the races’, or ‘what to consider when having bespoke wedding jewellery designed’.

Why are Keywords Significant?

For the marketer, keywords shine a light on what an audience wants to know, what it is interested in and what concerns it.

Keywords are the cornerstone of a piece of content: they are directly linked to the core subject matter. They show the reader what your content is about, and they indicate to the search engines the same thing. It’s a known fact that web users scan read content, and it will be the keywords they pick out that will help them understand what that content is about, and whether it is relevant to them. If they can see the words relating to what they originally searched for, then they will be sure to stick around rather than go elsewhere in search of their goals.

Furthermore, search engines index pages based on the keywords they find within the content, so it is vital that the right keywords are set to pull the right visitors to the page.

So then, the all-important question: how to decide on the keywords to use in your content? How do we find out exactly what keywords people are using to find what you sell?

How to Choose the Right Keywords?

Very, very commonly, business owners will use keywords that are connected with their brand or product names. That’s all well and good if your brand identity is well established and widely advertised and used. However, for the majority of businesses this is simply not the case.

As business owners, we tend to get very precious about and connected to what we sell or offer. It is easy to think that, because WE know what a product or service is, so does everyone else. Plus, when you have worked in an industry for a long time, it is easy to forget that the everyday terminology you use is actually foreign jargon to people on the outside.

So for example, say you are in the business of applying wood veneers to doors and furniture and supplying veneered boards for furniture making. You’ve been doing it for 20 years, so to you a veneer is a slice of timber that is glued to MDF in order to make it look as appealing as solid wood, without the cost. Everyone knows that, right? Or maybe not…

If you type the word ‘veneers’ into Google, pretty much the whole of the first page is dedicated to dental veneers: that lovely porcelain covering that makes teeth look pearly white. Nothing whatsoever to do with the woodworking industry! Switch the keyword phrase to the likes of ‘natural wood veneered boards’ or ‘oak veneer MDF sheet’ however, and there you have a whole set of completely different search results, all of them wood related.

Keyword selection

What’s the best way to make sure the right keywords are chosen?

What you really need to do is step back and try to approach keyword selection from a customer perspective. Bearing this in mind, here are four methods you can use to get those keywords right from the outset:

1.     Ask People

Talk to your customers. Ask them how they refer to your products. What do they commonly call your services? Ask your workforce too and get them to ask their friends. You may well be very surprised that the swimming pool shoes you sell are more commonly known as aqua shoes for example. Also find out the sort of phrases people are likely to type in when looking for your products. ‘Best shoes for swimming’ or ‘beach wedding shoes ideas’ for example.

2.     Use Social Media

Social media tools are so advanced these days that you can use them to search for almost anything your followers may be discussing. Have a look at Facebook Search which allows you to literally see ‘what the world is saying right now about the topics that matter to you’.

Twitter shows trending topics which are tailored to your location and who you follow. You can also type anything into the Twitter search bar to see what keywords, topics and hashtags are trending. There’s also a trending page on Google+ which does pretty much the same thing and the Trends Dashboard on YouTube will display the most popular videos and subject matter according to your choice of location, age group and gender. Being aware of what your audience is discussing will help you not only choose the right keywords, but also write content that is bang on trend and therefore has the best chance of being found.

3.     Use Google Tools

Google helpfully offers a whole suite of tools to assist you in your keyword research. Take a look at Google Trends which provides insight into the search engine’s own search database. Filter by language, category and region and choose a single keyword to investigate, or compare multiple phrases.

Google’s autocomplete is another useful tool for the keyword researcher. Simply start typing your search topic into the search engine and observe the suggestions it comes up with. This is particularly useful as it shows you what people are actually searching for.

If you have a Google account then you can use their AdWords keyword planner to reveal search volume and competition for your key phrases. You don’t need to be running a live AdWords campaign to use it, and it has the ability to deliver some very useful and enlightening results.

4.     Use Wordtracker

Wordtracker is a powerful tool that will tell you whether a keyword or phrase is worth pursuing. Type in your keyword, your time period (a monthly average or a particular month) and your territory (global or a particular country) and you’ll be presented with a whole set of helpful data including search volume, competition and more. It’s a paid-for service starting from $27 per month at the time of posting, but worth it if you are serious about getting results from your SEO campaign.

In Summary

Finding the right keywords for your campaign may take some effort, but if you want to enjoy a return on your investment then you really are going to need to put that effort in. There is no point labouring over and pouring money into creating content if no one can find it!

Need some help finding the right keywords? Lost at sea with search engine optimisation? Finding it hard to create the content your audience wants to read? Get steering courtesy of Figment!