Why Keywords Matter So Much

Estimated reading time 3 minutes

If you follow SEO news you’ll have certainly noticed two big announcements in the past week:

The first one is that Google has updated its logo and navigation bar for users (read more on Search Engine Watch) which is nice but has no real impact on SEO.

The second piece of news, which was actually not as heavily publicised is the fact that all Google searches are now going to be secure (read more on Search Engine Land). This, although it sounds like a good move for users privacy, is actually a massive change in the SEO world. What it means is that if you use Google Analytics to track your website performance you will now not be able to see which keywords users have actually entered before reaching your website. Less visibility means more difficulty identifying your best performing keywords and understand your users behaviour.

While not completely out of the blue, the decision to implement this secure search by Google got us thinking, and as a result we thought it’d be a good idea to talk about keywords as they are often misunderstood or misused by businesses.

Selecting the right keywords

The first mistake many companies make is to optimise their website for keywords that are actually not the right ones for the business. It is very easy to make assumptions about what your target audience is looking for when working for a company, and very often this leads to poor SEO. Selecting the wrong keywords for your optimisation work means that even though you may be ranking high for specific keywords, you’ll not get the necessary levels of traffic and conversions that you need to achieve your objectives.

Selecting the right keywords is all about understanding your target audience and their search habits and making sure that you optimise your website for keywords that will bring qualified traffic to your website and ultimately lead to conversions )contact requests, calls, sales…)

How do you know you have the right keywords?

Well it is all about research. In an ever growing competitive online environment doing keyword research should be the starting point of all your SEO (and digital marketing) activities.  This research will enable you to identify the best keywords for your specific business, the ones that will help your website perform better and put money in your pockets! While we’re not going to reveal our trade secrets here, here are the first steps you should take for good keyword research:

  • Brainstorm – think about your business and the keywords it should be ranked for, then put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer for your products or services. What are they likely to type in Google when looking for businesses like yours? These two simple exercises should give you a starting list of keywords
  • Check your competitors – As we can safely assume that you don’t have a monopoly in your market (if you have then well done!), take a good look at your competitors and find out which keywords they are optimising for. Another simple but extremely valuable exercise, and after all if somebody else does it well, why not replicate some of their good ideas?
  • Do some searches – by now your list of potential list of keywords should be much longer, so go in Google and run some searches on the keywords you found and see which websites are in top positions for those.

Even though the advice above may sound obvious, businesses too often forget to take a step back when looking at SEO and end up using terminology and keywords that may mean something to them as employees but with which users cannot relate. So next time you’re doing SEO work take the time to think before optimising for the wrong keywords.

We carry out keyword research for pretty much all of our clients, so get in touch if you need help with your keywords.

About the author

Etienne is the Head of SEO here at Mahon Digital and he’s been involved in the digital & search marketing industry for nearly 11 years now, working for small family owned businesses as well as international FTSE 500 companies. He’s passionate about all things digital, but more specifically about digital & search strategy and marketing analysis.

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