What Are Keywords and Why Are They Important for SEO?

Using the right keywords is an important part of SEO

When someone uses a search engine, they type in one or more words describing what they are looking for: ‘Norwich florist’ or ‘cheap holidays Greece’, for example. These words or phrases are known as keywords.

The search engine then comes back with a list of web pages, with content that relates to the keyword used.

So if you are building a business website, you want to ensure that when customers search for relevant keywords, your website appears as early as possible in the list of results. That is what search engine optimisation (SEO) is all about.

So how can I use keywords on my business website?

At a basic level, you want to use relevant keywords in your content. In fact, you may want to identify keywords first and then create content built around these. There are three things you need to remember:

  • concentrate your efforts on keywords likely to be used by potential customers
  • focus your individual web pages – target just a few keywords per page
  • take into account what the competition are doing

Choosing the right keywords

As far as useful keywords are concerned, you need to think the way potential customers are likely to think. For example, suppose you have developed an amazing new yacht paint – Wonderstuff. You could use that as a keyword for one of your web pages, making it clear that the page is about Wonderstuff.

But that’s not what potential customers will be searching for – in fact, they may not even know it exists. They’ll be looking for ‘waterproof yacht paint’ or ‘yacht paint Suffolk’, so those are the sort of keywords you should be thinking of using.

Focusing your efforts

You should aim to create individual web pages that are clearly relevant for just a handful of keywords. Simply stuffing every keyword you can think of into your content doesn’t work – you end up with poor quality content, and may well find your web pages are penalised by search engines if they think you’re trying to cheat the system.

Beating the competition

All your competitors are doing SEO on their websites too – and some may have bigger budgets than you. Trying to compete for single keywords is probably hopeless (and less likely to deliver customers who are interested in what you specifically have to offer).

Instead, look for longer phrases that closely match what your target market want, and where you have a competitive edge.