Why keywords are important (website strategy)

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A website is often the first thing potential customers see when they search for a business, product, or service. To even get there, they have to find you in search. And that’s why keywords are important.

To attract the right audience and drive relevant web traffic, it’s important to use the words they use – aka the keywords they use to search.

Keywords phrases also can give you specific content ideas. For  example, the headline of this article is a direct search phrase that people use and that I have something to say about. So might as well produce this article.

What are keywords, and why do they matter?

Keywords are the words and phrases people use when searching for answers on Google or even Perplexity AI. When used strategically throughout a website’s content, search engines can match it to relevant search queries.

By targeting the right keywords, businesses can:

  • Reach their ideal audience
  • Boost search engine rankings
  • Improve user experience
  • Drive conversions

How to identify the right keywords for a website

Knowing the importance of keywords is one thing, but identifying the right ones for a website can be challenging. Here are some tips to help get started:

1. Understand the audience

What are their needs, challenges, and goals? What kind of language do they use when searching for products or services like yours?

One way to gain insights into an audience is by conducting market research. This can involve sending surveys to existing customers or target markets and asking questions about their search habits and the terms they use. It’s also helpful to look at competitor websites to see what language the audience is using.

2. Brainstorm keyword ideas

Once there’s a better understanding of the audience, start brainstorming potential keywords related to the business. Think about the products or services offered, the problems solved, and the benefits provided. Start with a list and then add, subtract, and expand.

3. Use keyword research tools

While brainstorming can give a good starting point, it’s also important to use keyword research tools to validate ideas and uncover new opportunities. These tools can help show how often certain keywords are searched for, how competitive they are, and how much traffic they could potentially drive to a site.

Some popular keyword research tools include:

  • Google Keyword Planner: Great for expanded initial lists.
  • Ubersuggest: Great for research tied to a specific domain. It even even gives ideas after the fact and based on the research done. Try it. 
  • Keyword Insights: Cluster keywords by topic for even more strategic content. Try it. 
  • Keywords Everywhere: A Chrome Extension for easy access to keyword research. Try it. 

Keyword research with chrome extension Keywords Everywhere. Click to try it.

In general, the goal is to target keywords with some search volume and that are highly relevant to your audience

Here’s an example from my experience: I once researched how to turn audio content into video for my podcast. Initially, I didn’t know the specific term for this process. However, fellow podcaster Max  Branstetter, mentioned it’s called “audiograms.”

When I looked up “audiograms” in keyword research tools, I found that they had significantly more searches than the terms I initially used. This experience taught me the value of collaborating with others and conducting thorough keyword research to find the most effective terms.

4. Analyze competitors

Another way to find keyword ideas is by analyzing what competitors are doing. Look at their websites and see what keywords they target in their content, titles, and meta descriptions. Ubersuggest can also be used to see what keywords competitors are ranking for. It then shows you which keywords you are ranking for as well and which ones you’re not

Competitor analysis for websites in Ubersuggest

While it’s not a good idea to copy a competitor’s keyword strategy exactly, this analysis can give ideas for keywords that may not have been considered and help identify gaps in the current strategy.

How to use keywords effectively on a website

Here are some tips:

1. Use keywords in page titles and headers

Page titles and headers are some of the most important places to use keywords. These also appear prominently in search results. Using WordPress and built-in and add-on tools can make this process quite simple. There’s even now an AI option for first drafts.

Writing page titles and meta description directly in WordPress

Try to use the primary keyword at the beginning, if possible, when creating titles and headers. For example, instead of a generic title like “Our Services,” use a more specific, keyword-rich title like “Professional Landscaping Services in Chicago.”

2. Use keywords in meta descriptions

Meta descriptions appear under a page title in search results. While they don’t directly impact search rankings, they can entice the click-through or push people away. Sometimes Google doesn’t even use the one you wrote, but it’s still good to have one in there.

When writing meta descriptions, aim to include the primary keyword while also crafting a compelling, descriptive summary of what the page is about. Keep in mind that meta descriptions are typically limited to around 150 characters, so be concise.

3. Use keywords throughout page content

Keywords should also be used throughout the actual content of the pages. This helps reinforce to search engines what the page is about.

However, it’s important not to overdo it with keywords. Keyword stuffing can hurt search rankings and turn off readers. Use keywords naturally and strategically, working them into the content in a way that reads well and provides value to the audience.

A good rule of thumb is to use the primary keyword a few times throughout the page, including in the first paragraph, and then sprinkle in variations and related keywords as appropriate. Keywords should also be used in image alt tags, which help both search engines and users.

Read next: Stumped by SERPs: Why isn’t my website ranking?

4. Create dedicated pages for important keywords

For the most important keywords, consider creating dedicated pages on the site. These are pages that are specifically optimized for a particular keyword or phrase and provide in-depth information on that topic. Then cluster content off that main topic and link back to it.

Cluster keyword research try it here.

For example, if a law firm specializes in personal injury cases, a dedicated page could be created for “car accident lawyer.”

This page could include detailed information about the services, experience handling car accident cases, and answers to clients’ common questions.

By creating dedicated pages for top keywords, search engines are given a clear signal about what those pages are about, increasing the chances of ranking well for those terms.

Read next: Does content marketing work?

The role of content

The goal is to create content that’s highly relevant to your audience, unique to your expertise, and that uses the right words. This means going beyond just stuffing keywords into pages. Think about what the audience wants to read and learn about.

  • Which questions do they have?
  • What problems are they trying to solve?
  • How can unique insights or perspectives be provided on topics related to the keywords?

Content that genuinely helps and informs the audience, they’re more likely to stay on the site longer, share the content with others, and come back for more in the future. These are all positive signals that can help improve rankings.

To create valuable content that incorporates target keywords, consider:

  • Writing in-depth blog posts or articles on topics related to the keywords
  • Creating how-to guides or tutorials that walk readers through a process step-by-step
  • Developing infographics or videos that visually explain complex topics
  • Conducting original research or surveys and sharing the findings
  • Interviewing industry experts or thought leaders and publishing the conversations
  • Sharing client success stories that demonstrate expertise

Creating content that educates, informs, and engages readers often allows target keywords to be naturally be incorporated.

Measuring success

It’s important to track and measure the success of keyword efforts over time.

Some key metrics to track include:

1. Organic traffic

One of the main goals of a keyword strategy is to drive more organic traffic (traffic from search engines) to the site. Keep in mind that this can be a wild ride. It can go up and down up and down. Just look for the long-term positive trendline.

2. Keyword rankings

Track how well the site is ranking for target keywords. I use Ubersuggest to see the keywords that I declared, but then I also check Google Search Console to see what other phrases that same page ranks for.

Keyword position, rankings for one article in Google search console

3. Engagement metrics

Once people arrive, make sure they are engaged and take desired actions. Metrics like bounce rate, pages per session, and average session duration should be tracked to see how well pages resonate. If there are specific conversion goals (like filling out a form or making a purchase), those should be tracked as well.

4. Search impressions

In Search Comsole, you can see how many times people saw were shown your website content in search results. While they didn’t click, it still can help build your brand and awareness overtime. Plus, typically when impressions go up, click through – a.k.a. organic traffic – also goes up.

Impressions on search engine result pages are also important

All these are reason why keywords are important. They can drive results and propel the brand forward.

Adjusting over time

It’s not a one-time effort. As a business evolves and search trends change, the approach will need to be continuously reviewed and adjusted to stay relevant and effective.

Some reasons a keyword strategy may need to be adjusted include:

  • Changes in the business: If new products or services are added, new markets are entered, or brand positioning changes, different keywords may need to be targeted to reflect those changes.
  • Shifts in search behavior: How people search for information can change over time. New keywords may emerge while others become less popular. Staying on top of changes is important.
  • Competitive landscape: If new competitors enter the space or existing competitors change their strategies, the keyword strategy may need to be adapted in response. Keep an eye on what competitors are doing and look for opportunities to differentiate.
  • Algorithm updates: Stay informed about major algorithm changes and be prepared to adjust the strategy if needed. In general, I find that just sharing unique and authentic content can almost allow you to be unscathed by most algorithm updates.

When adjusting a keyword strategy, it’s important to take a data-driven approach. Look at website analytics to see which keywords and pages are performing well and which ones may need more attention.

Remember, a successful keyword strategy is an ongoing research, optimization, and iteration process. By staying on top of keywords and continuously working to provide value to the audience, search rankings can be improved, more qualified traffic can be attracted, and ultimately, more business can be driven through the website.

In summary, why are keywords important? They drive results for a business.

Read next:

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