Keyword Basics: Finding And Using The Right Keywords
For many of you, the busiest time of year is just around the corner. While you prep crew and inventory for the upcoming season, the travelers you’re getting ready for will be busy browsing the internet for “things to do” on their Summer trip.
Make sure your business is the one their search lands on by investing some time into your *keywords*. No matter what your digital marketing strategy, discovering and utilizing the right keywords is essential to capturing search traffic.
What are keywords?
Keywords are the equivalent of an elevator pitch. In a broad sense, they’re the ideas that define your business—words that are essential to who you are and what you do.
In the world of SEO, keywords are the words or phrases that people enter into search engines. Commonly referred to as “search queries,” keywords are what searchers use to find answers on the Internet.
As a business owner, keywords are an important part of attracting online visitors to your site.
When the keywords you use on your website match the terms people use on search engines, your content will appear in their search results. This, of course, results in more traffic to your website and more opportunities to convert that traffic into paying customers.
Types of keywords
As you begin your keyword research, you’ll find that the search queries you can target are limitless. You can target single, generic words, highly detailed phrases or anything in-between. With so many options, finding the *right* keywords can be a challenge. Here’s a breakdown of the three main types of keywords you’ll encounter:
Generic keywords are generally single word terms that represent a broad subject, but offer little insight into the searcher’s intent. Searches like “kayaks” or “ziplines” fall into this category.
These keywords tend to be extremely competitive and difficult to rank for because there are so many sites that could be relevant to these broad, generic terms. The searcher might be looking for photos of people kayaking, looking for a type of kayak to purchase, or of course, browsing for kayak rentals or tours nearby. All related sites will be competing for this search query.
Nonetheless, generic keywords are still an important part of your keyword strategy. Use these as the frame for your keyword strategy, adding them throughout your website.
Long-tail keywords are highly specific search queries that generally appear as phrases or sentences, like “kayaking in monterey with young kids” or “what to wear ziplining in Maui.” Unlike single keywords, long-tail keywords have a very specific focus and give a clear picture of the searcher’s intent.
Since these keywords generate significantly less traffic, they’re also less competitive. This makes long-tail keywords a great opportunity to rank for searches that are highly relevant to your business. Long-tail keywords should be your go-to when creating blog content with the goal of driving customers to your site.
Broad keywords fall somewhere in between generic and long-tail keywords, as short phrases that are neither incredibly generic nor specific. This category includes terms like “kayaking in monterey” and “maui zipline tours.”
As you strengthen your SEO, these will become the bread-and-butter of your keyword strategy. Broad keywords are ideal for your homepage copy, in headlines and indexable content.
Keyword Do’s and Don’ts
DO! Spend time researching your keywords. Getting searchers to your site won’t help much if they’re not the *right* searchers. There are several tools out there to help you make an educated decision about what keywords matter for your business. Visit one (or all!) to help narrow down your keyword list:
- Google’s Keyword Planner
- Your own Google Analytics data!
DON’T! Don’t incorporate keywords based on gut feeling alone. The tools mentioned above will help you select keywords that make sense for your unique business, by offering data like search volume and the level of competition for the keyword. Ask friends, family, and Google for keyword ideas, then narrow down your list using the tools listed above.
DO! Work keywords into every part of your webpage. This includes title tags, meta descriptions, headings, alt text and URLs. Remember, keywords are meant to get Google’s attention, so you need to pay just as much attention to indexable content (the HTML text you can assign to images and non-text content) as the content you write for users to search and see.
DO! Use your blog to create thoughtful and informative content around your top keywords. Your content should be evergreen—meaning always relevant— and written on a topic that you’re knowledgeable about and can write about naturally. You can find a lot of great tips on blogging here.
DON’T! Don’t overuse your keywords. Packing too many of your keywords into your content is called “keyword stuffing,” and will actually work against you in search rankings. Content should be written with your keywords in mind but keywords should never be overused.
DO! Create an excel sheet that lists your keywords in order of priority. Turn to this when you need blog inspiration, when you’re updating tour descriptions or creating new AdWords campaigns.
As you research keywords and develop your strategy, remember that the key is finding a balance between writing for the user and writing for the search engine. Keyword nirvana is hidden somewhere between the two.