Online Marketing: Four Qualities of Effective Keywords

By Ruth Hawk, Wednesday, December 9, 2015
effective keywords

Keywords are necessary for any search engine optimization campaign. The term refers to any word or phrase for which people search online. In order to help your web pages stand out, you need to choose certain effective keywords around which to create your content. For instance, if you are a pizza shop in the North End of Boston, you might wish to create web pages focused on the keyword “Boston North Shore pizza.” The best keywords possess specific qualities that make them valuable for your business. Following are some of the qualities that characterize the most valuable and effective keywords for any website.

Keyword Relevance

One of the most important qualities to look for in any keyword is relevant to your website. In the past, some companies have chosen to “stuff” their content with keywords that were unrelated to their content or to their business as a whole. This tactic is a bad idea because Google can now recognize irrelevant keywords. In addition, using irrelevant keywords leads to site visitors who are looking for something you do not offer. As a result, instead of earning more business for yourself, you are likely only going to alienate site visitors.

Instead, when choosing keywords, select those that are directly relevant to your website. In addition, when choosing keywords for a specific web page, choose terms that are directly relevant to the content on that page. Always look beyond the most obvious keywords to address topics and products that you offer that might make you stand out from the competition (i.e. “gluten-free North End pizza”). Doing so will help you to match your content with visitors’ expectations and allow your site to perform better overall.

Keyword Popularity

The popularity of a keyword refers to how often it is used in online searches. It is a reflection of how much traffic you might be able to earn if you rank well for that particular term. For instance, a term that is searched 100,000 times will generate more visitors than one searched 100 times. Choosing words that are both relevant and popular is important because it allows you to identify keywords that your target audience is actually searching for.

The best way to locate these popular keywords is to do keyword research. There are a number of ways you can conduct this research. For instance, you can look at any search engine marketing campaigns you already have in place and pull out the highest-performing keywords from that campaign. You can also use Google Analytics to find out which terms are currently driving people to your website. For a more detailed analysis of keywords, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner (or other tools), or hire an SEO service to help you pinpoint the types of keywords that your target audience is most likely to use.

SEE ALSO: How to Do An SEO Audit

Keyword Length

While the term “keyword” might make you think of single words, one-word terms are actually relatively ineffective. The reason is that they are extremely popular terms, with numerous websites using them in their content. For instance, the keyword “pizza” is used by so many websites that it is virtually impossible to rank on the first page of search results (let alone the first three results) no matter how well you optimize your content for the word “pizza.”

Instead, the most effective keywords tend to be phrases of 2-4 (sometimes more) words that describe in detail what the online searcher is looking for. Called long-tail keywords, these phrases are far more effective than single-word terms. They have enough specificity to narrow down the field of websites to a number that is easier for you to compete with. At the same time, they are short enough that they are still terms that relatively large numbers of people search for.

SEO research by WEBii


As mentioned above, one of the problems with single-word search terms is the fact that they are so broad. The broader a search term, the harder it is to rank for that term because you will be competing against so many web pages that it will be difficult to get your site seen. As a result, an effective keyword must contain a certain level of specificity. For instance, instead of trying to rank for “pizza shop,” you might be more successful in trying to rank for “Boston North End pizza shop.”

When you choose specific, long-tail keywords, you will naturally reduce the size of the audience you have access to, because the number of people searching for those specific terms is smaller than those searching for broader terms. However, the quality of the traffic that you generate to your website will be higher than the quality of traffic you would generate using less specific terms. As a result, you will generate more business and profit by choosing more specific keywords than by choosing broad topics.

The Right Balance for Effective Keywords

Choosing the right keywords involves more than selecting terms with relevance, popularity, length, and specificity. It also requires you to select keywords that have the right balance of all these qualities. For instance, a keyword needs to be popular enough to earn you meaningful traffic, but specific enough to make your website visible among competitors. A search term needs to be long enough but not too long. A popular term can generate lots of traffic, but a term that is too popular can make it difficult to rank well in the search results.

Navigating the sometimes complex waters of keyword research and selection may require the help of SEO experts, in Austin or elsewhere. The SEO service you choose can help you to determine the right balance of features in the keywords you use. By choosing the keywords that intersect your business, your target audience’s needs, and the realities of the competition you face, you will be able to maximize the impact of your search engine optimization efforts.

Posted in: Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, WWW Learning Center

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