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26th August 2020

What Are Keywords? A Complete Guide

What Are Keywords?

Keywords play a critical role in organic ranking and driving organic traffic to your site and offers. They play a central role in on-site (on-page) SEO. And you will never get on-page SEO right if you don't get your keywords right. When you talk about SEO copywriting, you're merely talking about copy that has been well optimised for SEO with keywords or key phrases.

If you must make the most of your efforts online as a content creator or website owner, you must understand how to use keywords or key phrases – you cannot downplay writing for SEO. If you think it is too overwhelming, you can choose an agency that understands copywriting to do your writing for SEO purposes.

Let’s explore what keywords are.

What Are Keywords?

There are many ways to view or define keywords. But one of the best ways to look at keywords is through the eyes of the audience. Google and every other search engine simply respond to what people are searching for.

In this regard, keywords or key phrases are simply terms that your audience types into search engines when searching for anything on the internet. This can be a one-word search term or a phrase that defines what they are looking for. For example: ‘best stilettos for work’, ‘entrepreneurship’, ‘how to pay off student loans’, and so on.

Importance Of Keywords

While keywords define what your audience is searching for, they also define what your content and website are about. The implication is that if you understand how to write for SEO and use keywords in your copy appropriately, every time someone searches for a particular keyword that your website or article is optimised for, your site will potentially be displayed in the SERPs.

In other words, keywords/phrases help your audience or target buyers find you. So if your website is optimised for ‘red shoes for women’ for example, whenever people search that phrase or a variant, your website or webpage will potentially be displayed to that person. Of course, if they find you and you have a good offer for them, all things being equal they will buy from you. So, optimising for the right keywords can help you increase sales. 

Keywords can also help you rank high on the results pages of the search engines. There are some nuances to it, and it may be hard, but when you achieve this, you will have a flood of organic traffic. Why? Most people don't search beyond the first page of Google and other search engines. If what they are looking for isn't on that first page, they try a different but related search term.

How To Write For SEO

Writing for SEO can be very simple yet tricky. Besides using keywords within your copy, there are some other factors to consider when doing it, including keyword density, placing of the keywords, quality and relevance of page and article. The significance and quality of the material or page to the keyword is of extreme importance because the search engines prioritise it. You can't just pack your content with keywords and expect it to rank highly.

Regarding the placement of keywords in the copy, here’s a simplified version how to do it: you can put a keyword in the title/headlines, sub-headings, in the first three paragraphs, within the article, and towards the end of the article. However you do it, your keywords must be natural and relevant in the sentence where you put them.

To learn more about how to use keywords in your copy, you can search for copywriting examples in your favourite search engine and study all the great examples you find. It’s the best way to learn. Better still, you can get an SEO copywriting agency to write your content so that you can focus your attention on the other vital areas of building your business.

Long-tail Keywords: What They Are And Why Use Them? 

Remember the three examples of keywords we gave above, of the three, ‘how to pay off student loans’ can be classified as a long-tail keyword. 

So, what are long-tail keywords?

Long-tail keywords are also key phrases but with clearly defined intent. This is the most important distinguishing factor. For example, ‘pay student loans’ is a keyword or a key phrase, but ‘how to pay off student loans’ is a long-tail keyword. The intent of the person searching using the latter search term is clear as opposed to one using ‘pay student loan’.

Another distinguishing factor is that they are typically longer (number of words) than the typical keyword, as evidenced in the examples above.

Competition for the top spots in the SERPs is fierce. If the keyword you want your blog to rank for is 'entrepreneurship,' or 'loans,' for example, you'll find that there are some large companies that already rank at the top for those keywords. Unseating them from that position may be a war that you don't have what it takes to fight.

As if that’s not enough, one of the worst things about single-word keywords is the fact that they can be annoyingly vague, because they have no predefined intent. Ranking for a single-word keyword means that you will get a lot of traffic that you don’t want. If you rank for ‘loans’ for example and offer a service that helps people pay off student’s loans, you will get people looking for terms such as business loans, housing loans and mortgages – all of which you do not need.

But when you rank for a long-tail keyword because the intent is clear, the 'noise' will be filtered out, and you will get only people that are interested in your product, service, or information.

To maximise your SEO activities, you need a good SEO content strategy. This content strategy will help you optimise every page on your website as well as indicate the keywords you should be optimising each page for. This way, you would be ranking for the keywords that you want to be found for and attracting the audience that you serve.

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