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An Introduction to Keywords
Knowing what keywords to use is 90% of the SEO game. If someone is searching for a face mask and a website selling robot toys comes up instead, Google has failed to do the one job it has.
What’s worse for you and your website is if you deliberately targeted face masks with your keywords, hoping that the user would buy the toy robot anyway, because Google will penalise you even more.
You can’t cheat or outsmart Google; you can simply help them make sure the right audience finds your website. If Google sees that people immediately leave your website because they aren’t finding what they’re looking for, then they will stop showing your website for that keyword (or at the very least drop you in the rankings).
But the most important part for you when picking keywords is knowing which ones to use.
Let’s say you sell baby clothing; it’s important you know what most people are entering into Google if they’re looking to buy your products.
A couple of examples of what a few different users might enter into Google, all searching for the same thing, are:
- baby clothes
- toddler clothes
- infant clothes
- newborn clothes
- new born clothes
- baby clothing
- toddler clothing
- infant clothing
- newborn clothing
- new born clothing
You get the idea: the list of potential search variations for that one product type can quickly end up in the thousands, and you don’t want to waste your time using a keyword that no one is using.
It’s not simply about how much traffic a keyword receives per month, either.
If you’re in a highly contested market, the chances of you ranking on the first page for keywords with lots of volume become less likely. SEO tools that provide keyword information often provide a difficulty rating that helps provide an indication of how likely your success will be and how much work is required in order to have a chance.
This means you might not always go for the keyword that has the most search volume if you don’t have the time or budget to put in the work required to be on the front page. There’s not much point in doing SEO if you aren’t going for the first page since we all know anything beyond that first page is a lost cause in almost every search scenario.
Understanding Keyword Types
We’ve talked about not wanting to show up for the wrong search result and sticking to relevant keywords. Now we need to discuss the context of keywords, and this is where the 3 different keyword types come in:
- Short-tail: baby clothes
- Medium-tail: buy organic baby clothes
- Long-tail: Why is organic clothing better for babies?
Short-tail is the most generic term, which is why they have the most traffic. But they also lack context for the user’s search. We don’t know if the user is wanting to buy or sell, and it doesn’t include our example niche here of being organic.
Medium-tail keywords include your niche or the user’s intention but have less traffic. This isn’t a bad thing, as ultimately you only want relevant traffic going to your website. Both the short and medium-tail keywords apply to your website; you’re just including both so you get people who just want baby clothes as well as people specifically looking for organic baby clothes.
Since the release of the “BERT” update, Google is now smarter and more powerful thanks to AI. The search engine can now string multiple searches across multiple users to refine and serve more accurate results. It can also understand the context in which a keyword is used in a sentence.
This means users are now interacting with Google in complex ways, as if it were a person standing next to them who always had the right answer. This comes in the form of users asking Google questions.
Long-tail keywords are those questions asked to Google. “Why is organic clothing better for babies?”
The only way to target these questions is to write an answer for them.
Creating Your List of Keywords
Some free resources for identifying your potential keywords are:
- https://moz.com/explorer *
- https://www.semrush.com/features/keyword-magic-tool/ *
* Some will require you to sign up with a free account.
Depending on how many core, top-level keywords, and niche/region keywords are required, you might end up with a list anywhere from 100 to 1,000+ keywords.
Identifying the Right Keywords
We collated a short list of initial keywords, then ran that list through an SEO tool to tell us which keywords were worth using:
Immediately, we removed the majority of keywords from our original list as no one is searching for those phrases in NZ.
Next, we have both a list of keywords with their traffic and an indication of how difficult it would be in order to rank for those keywords.
This makes identifying our final list of keywords quite simple by looking at examples like this one:
Both of these keywords receive the same estimated monthly traffic. However, ‘baby clothes nz’ has a difficulty rating of 36, which is quite high. ‘Baby clothes,’ by comparison, has a 0 difficulty rating. This makes it a no-brainer as to which keyword we’ll be going with. By targeting ‘baby clothes,’ we achieve the exact amount of traffic with infinitely less trouble in the process.
After a process of reviewing and refining our list of keywords, we can then form our final list of keywords that will be targeted on our website for implementation.
Please understand that this is only a very simple method of putting together a few keywords to focus on. At a professional level, you would also study your competitors, identifying their keywords and competing against them as well. SEO Tools such as SEMRush or AHREFs are useful in speeding up this process by automatically detecting competitor keywords and other essential information to quickly compile more advanced keyword lists.
We are SEO specialists here at Nimbl. We utilise a wide range of free and paid resources in order to compile highly customised and effective keyword lists. If you are on an SEO DIY mission, you can hire us to compile the keywords and save yourself the time and money on expensive subscriptions.