Put simply, keywords are those terms – words or short phrases – that people type into search engines to find products and services.
To optimise your website – in other words, to boost your search engine ranking – you need to research the keywords that your target market is likely to use to find you. You can then incorporate those keywords into your website content and metadata.
Identifying your keywords
To start with, you need to work out what keywords are most likely to be used by your potential customers. Generally these start with a general business term (eg ‘builder’), followed by more specific words (‘bricklaying’ or ‘plumbing’), and then location words (‘London’, ‘South London’, or ‘Croydon’).
In some businesses it is fairly easy to work out keywords, but it can be more difficult for businesses that provide a complex range of products and services.
One approach is to put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer, and seeing where your website or those of your competitors rank in likely searches. It’s also worth asking your customers what they search for.
Assess your keywords
You now need to look at the effectiveness of your keywords, by finding out which ones are most popular and widely used in your market.
Google has a useful Keyword Tool in which you can enter each of the terms you’ve identified, and find out which ones have the most searches. This will enable you to work out how your target market behaves when searching, and to choose synonyms and related terms which will help you refine your keywords.
It’s also worth looking online for keyword directories that list search terms by subject, relevance and popularity
Select the keywords for your website
Once you’ve been through the process of identifying and testing your keywords, prepare a list of all the terms you want to use.
It’s important not to be too specific in the keywords you choose, because these are likely to return excessive search results. Instead, use phrases which incorporate several related words: ‘London building services’ or ‘builder South London’.
Incorporating keywords on your website
When search engines look for results, they search through website content and metatags to find relevant phrases, so you need to use your keywords in your content. It’s important, however, not to just stuff your keywords in in a way that’s unnatural – otherwise they are likely to be ignored by search engines such as Google and Bing.
Use different versions of the same phrase – eg ‘builder in South London’ and ‘South London builder’ – to get total coverage.
Revisions and amendments
Use the tools provided by search engines to see which of your keywords are most effective, and which are not being used by the audience. Make changes from time to time to improve your search engine performance.