What are Keywords?
Keywords are one of the backbones of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). They are used to describe what is on the page and provide the necessary context of what the topic is about. Using a combination of known and lesser-known keywords/phrases to describe your topic is the first step in connecting with your audience.
Keywords can be a single word or a range of words, such as a phrase.
For example, a ‘bicycle’ is a simple keyword, whereas ‘at the end of the day’ is a phrase. Each has their own meaning and can either benefit your offering or not. This will largely depend on who your audience is and whether it is relevant to your offering.
Why are keywords important?
Easy, pick up a writing implement and use it to write your signature. What would you call that device? A pen, of course. It seems obvious, because sometimes, it is. Some keywords, such as the word ‘pen’, are the most fitting way to describe something, and therefore, the most appropriate means to reference it in regard to its use and the benefits derived from it. This label (which refers to the pen) is a keyword.
Consider a roll-up banner, an exhibition banner, and a pop-up banner. All of these describe the same object yet rank differently within each search engine. Therefore, determining what is, the best way to describe your offering will require some research.
Part of this research will involve working out what to rank for, what will draw the most audiences, and being specific to answering the intent of the reader.
Another important factor with the importance of keywords is the way we use language to communicate towards other humans – both in writing and through voice. The way we label objects and elaborate through our comprehensive use of language presents as many opportunities as challenges to find the best way to describe something. And here is the beauty of keywords – all offerings need to be labelled and that is how we use our language.
For example, ‘girl’ or ‘boy’, ‘tall’ or ‘short’, ‘old’ versus ‘young’, and so on. Being specific with keywords allows the reader to connect with what you are describing.
As part of Google, the largest search engine, you have a friend in your corner helping you to discover some of these keywords. It’s called RankBrain, which is a machine learning-based search engine algorithm, the use of which was confirmed by Google on 26 October 2015.
Ultimately, it tries to determine what someone types into the search query box when the terms being used are not obvious. Examples of this include misspellings, related keywords, unknown subjects, or subjects where the word could have a double meaning. See the example below of the misspelled search query.
As you would expect from all technology, it constantly evolves to better serve its audience. Hence, the search query will provide a range of choice within its page structure to better suit the query being delivered.
For example, looking at recipes compared to the news will serve different content, such as videos and news pieces which are more apt to the intent of the search query. In doing so, the structure of keywords on the search engines results page (SERPs) will differ between subjects searched and overtime.
Being aware of the many facets by which search engines provide information is key to seeing the frequency and consistency of particular search terms. i.e., the keywords we wish to use in order to rank better.
To reinforce this more and better align a search query to what the reader wants, relies heavily on something called EAT. Before we talk about the power of EAT and why it is needed, first let’s explain its importance.
EAT stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. The three ingredients to providing relevant content which contains your keywords to the end-user in order to meet their needs and wants.
This update in August 2018 was intended to prioritise websites where the publishers could show themselves to be:
● An expert in their chosen field
● A recognised authority within their niche, industry and/or profession
● Worthy of being trusted by external reviewers, influencers, peers and clients
The algorithm update was also about making sure that search results best match the search intent of a user and that low quality, untrustworthy websites would disappear further down the rankings.
Many people called it the ‘Medic’ update because websites giving medical or other potentially life-changing advice (e.g. financial) were hit the hardest.
Websites are ranked based on their quality and how much they can help the potential customer.
Search engines are in constant competition to ensure that the reader uses them and not a competitor. This competition leads them to make new formulas (algorithms) and pick new factors that will decide whether your page will rank high or not.
Whilst the search engines aren’t going to give you a list of requirements (or everyone would do exactly the same), there are some easy steps you can take to help rank your website on page one.
Not necessarily position one as this will always depend on the market you are in. After all, if you start out trying to sell insurance, there are some ‘big boys’ already with very deep pockets that dominate both organic and paid positions. It would take more than money and time to beat these.
Ranking number one on page one can literally be a vanity exercise and no more. Always ask yourself ‘where is the real value to be had?’.
And that leads you to ask the next obvious question. What do you determine to mean ‘value’?
More sales for a transactional website? More engagement for a blogger? More visibility for those building personal brands?
As you can see, not everything is based around money. Just look at informational sites around the car industry. Lots of websites just convey ‘value’ through reviews, test drives and customer feedback.
Answering this fundamental question is the essential start of your journey before determining the right keywords that will get you there by connecting you to the right audience.
This is why Google, like so many search engines, rank web pages as opposed to websites. Every page has to convey ‘value’ to the reader in order to rank, which is why you will have some of your web pages on page one and others on page two, and so on.
Building credibility throughout your website with the correct keyword placement is crucial.