Understanding SEO: Keywords

Understanding SEO: Keywords

Keywords are one of the most basic elements of search engine optimization. Keywords are essential to both paid and organic search results, and they’re the key to helping people find your site, your content, and your product or services. What are keywords, and how do they fit in with the overall SEO picture?

What is a Keyword?

Essentially, a keyword is the series of words or phrases that a subject types into a search engine that pulls up related results. If you’re searching for information on buying a saxophone, for example, you might type: “how to shop for a saxophone,” “buying a saxophone,” “how much does a saxophone cost” or “saxophones for sale.”

For you as a business owner and website administrator, you must ensure that keywords related to your product or services are contained on your site. If you’re missing the keywords that people are searching for, they’ll never be able to find your site. In the above example, say you’ve got saxophones for sale, but on your website you call yourself a “saxophone purveyor” without ever using the word buying, sale, cost or shop – the keywords that people use to find the results they want. Without these important keywords, people won’t find your content!

Longtail vs. Short Tail

Short tail keywords are one or two word phrases that people may use to look for results, such as “buy saxophone.” Long tail keywords are more specific, extended search queries, such as “find saxophone for sale in Boston.” Short tail keywords are a great way to cast a wide net, but they’re also highly competitive. Longtail keywords give you an opportunity to boost your search ranking for the specific long tail phrase, but there may only be a tiny percentage of the overall market using your long tail phrase.

Ideally, you should sprinkle longtail and shorttail keywords throughout your site. In the next few SEO articles, we’ll look at how to figure out what keywords to use, and how to incorporate them organically into your content.

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