What are keywords?

I’m new to search engine optimisation (SEO) and I keep reading about keywords and phrases.  How important are they to the success of my website on Google?  What are keywords?

In the realms of search engine optimisation, or SEO, keywords are the critical words that are frequently used in connection with the topic of a page.  So for example, if you have a page on which the main topic is ‘chocolate’, that might be considered your primary keyword.  It’s the actual topic of your page.  However, there are other words that typically get used when talking about chocolate.  Actually, it’s hard to talk about chocolate to any degree without using some other related words, such as cocoa, cacao, or the cacao tree, milk, hot, dark, truffle, cocoa butter, cake, etc.  All these words are very frequently also used when talking about chocolate.

When you are writing copy for a page of your website, you will know what the primary topic of the page is.  With a little thought, or research, you can quickly identify other words that will typically come up when discussing your primary topic.  If you manage to write a page of content that manages to avoid using all these other related keywords, you have to wonder if you’ve really put enough thought or effort into your content?  How did you manage to avoid using any of these other words?  Have you actually written a worthwhile page, or have you written as little as you can get away with, but still expect to be No.1 on Google and gets lots of search engine traffic?

When writing any content for your website, you should make every effort to use as many related words and terms to your primary focus as possible.  Don’t just use, re-use, and over-use your primary keywords.  There are 4 very good reasons for this:

  1. Any copy that over uses any word simply reads badly.  Your website visitors are likely to be unimpressed.
  2. The search engines are capable of determining a page thats been keyword stuffed in order to manipulate search results for a particular search term.  It won’t work in the long run, and you run the risk of being penalised for it.
  3. When web users do searches, they use a variety of words and phrases.  If you want to get as much traffic as possible, you should attempt to use as many related words and phrases as possible so that you cover as many opportunities as possible.
  4. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), as used by Google, is actively checking to see if your page which appears to be about topic “x”, uses a selection of the other words that should naturally appear when discussing that subject.  If it does, it’s probably a better match than other results found in the index.  i.e. Improved rankings and traffic for your website!

To identify and use as many related keywords on each and every content page of your website is extremely important.  Failing to do so will result in significantly less search engine traffic than you would otherwise have gained.

A popular tool for helping you to identify keywords for any subject is the wordtracker tool.  This tool takes the idea of keyword research into a science all of it’s own, which may not be as helpful as it first seems.  A little thought and some common sense should help you identify a good selection of related words for any subject that you feel comfortable writing content for.  If not, then perhaps you need to research the subject of your content page a little further before you attempt to write it?

Please, above all else, remember that there’s really little point in publishing weak pages that offer no interesting or unique content.  Your site won’t attract links or the traffic you want if you aren’t able to genuinely engage your users.

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Category: Search Engine Optimisation

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