Search Engine Optimisation is the most fundamental element to your website. Even we use it! SEO is a marketing method that focuses solely on organic search results (non paid). It encompasses multiple elements such as the keywords on the page, inbound links and alt tags.
They’re all designed to drive traffic, improve rankings and increase site awareness in search engines. Moz’s ‘Beginner’s Guide to SEO’ does a fantastic job of explaining the what’s, why’s and how’s of SEO. In Chapter 5, Moz covers the importance of keyword research and how it can either make or break your website.

What is a keyword?

Keywords are the text and phrases that define your content. They help search engines to view your content and determine its value. As a website owner or content creator, you want to ensure the keywords you use are relevant to what people are looking for. That way, they have a better chance at finding your content amongst search results. It’s more about your users than anything else. Putting yourself in your users shoes, helps you understand exactly what users want to find within your content.

How do I know the value of my keyword?

1. Relevance

Is your keyword relevant to your website and what you offer? Will users be able to find what they’re looking for on your website, when using your chosen keywords? Will they be happy with what they find? Is the traffic towards your site resulting in financial or organisational benefit? If you answer yes to these questions, you can move onto step two. However, if you answered no, then you have some work to do.
Making your content relevant is key to understanding your users habits. If you offer organic dog food, but the user is looking for non organic cat food, you won’t be able to use it as a key word. Why? If a user comes across your website, looking for the dog food and discover you don’t actually offer it, the reputation of your website could suffer. The user is less likely to return to your website and you’ve lost a potential customer/client.

2. Checking out the competition

Understanding your competitors and their content will give you valuable insight as to your chances of ranking. As stated above, the more a keyword is used, the less likely the chances of your site being found in search results. Are there advertisements running along the top and right hand side of the screen? Those are paid advertisements and typically, many of these means a high valued keyword. The sites that appear in these advertisements have placed bids on their chosen keywords and quite literally fight for their chances to appear in search results.

3. Use keyword tools

You don’t have to pay out the nose to optimise your sites keyword process. Moz has a fantastic SEO toolset on a 30 day free trial basis, that can help you with everything from keyword research and link building to domain authority. Keyword research tools can give you useful metrics like the monthly search rate, the competition of that word and average click through rates. All these elements combined can help optimise your website to drive traffic and turn prospective clients into paying customers.

If you want more in depth metrics, you can run paid campaigns and use an A-B testing system to see what campaigns are the more effective. Google Adwords is another incredibly handy tool that you can utilise. These toolkits can help you understand what exactly users are typing into a search engine when they’re looking for your site. It can even help you with suggestion for other keywords and phrases that might be more successful. Tracking the amount of times a month a chosen keyword is being searched can give valuable insight into how popular what you offer is.
If the popularity of your keywords is low but the search rate is high, you’re doing well!

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail key words are specific combinations of terms that make up an overall phrase. They typically have more clearly defined intent. For example: ‘Womens black high tops size 6’ OR ‘Womens black converse high tops size 6.’
The more specific and defined the long-tail keywords are, the less competition there will be from other competitors. Therefore, this increases the chances of the content on your website being found. However, due to the specificity of the search there’s undoubtedly going to be less traffic driving towards your website. But the traffic that DOES come to your website, will be valuable and more likely  to be purchasing your product or service. Wordstream explain in further detail in their blog, ‘Long-Tail Keywords: A Better way to Connect with Customers.’

the search demand curveQuality Guidelines

One of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to keyword usage, is what’s called ‘Keyword Stuffing.’ This is the method of using irrelevant keywords, overuse of keywords or lists of phone numbers without substantial added value.

Search engines figure out whether a user is using this method by calculating what’s called a ‘Keyword Density percentage.’ It calculates the amount of times a keyword appears in a block of text, compared to the overall amount of text. People wanting to boost their ranking on search engines, without having to do the leg work use this method to work their way up the ranking ladder. Unfortunately, it is unclear as to the ideal percentage. Overuse or misuse of keywords can ultimately hurt your website as it will result in a negative user experience. Googles algorithm, first and foremost puts the user experience as a top priority.

Another misuse of keywords is called ‘Cloaking.’ This is inserting text or keywords into a page only when the user-agent requesting the page is a search engine, not a human visitor. It provides the user with a different result than what they wanted, leading again to a negative user experience. These practices violate Googles Webmaster Guidelines as well as many others. Search engines such as Google, will ultimately catch you out if you try and deceive them.

Trust us, it won’t be pretty!

Learn more about increasing your users satisfaction in our previous blog post, about ‘The importance of usability testing…’

Header by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Beginners Guide to SEO by Moz

Search Demand Curve by Moz