Keyword Research Basics

This article by SearchEnabler focuses on keywords, how to choose keywords wisely, and how to use them effectively for better rankings in search results.

What is a Keyword?

The query, which a user types in the search engine, is called a keyword. Keyword is one of the most important and deciding factors used by a search engine to deliver the desired web resources to the user.

How Search Engines use Keywords?

The basic working principle of search engines is to match the user’s query with information available on the web. This task is accomplished through a combination of various steps:

  • Search Engines crawls all the webpages on the web and keeps an index them in their database.
  • When a user searches for information related to any subject (keyword), search engine algorithms try to match the user’s queries (keywords) with the most relevant content from all the indexed webpages.
  • The search results are arranged in an order while being displayed to the user. Various factors of a webpage are considered before ranking the search results.

The point to note is, they search results depend upon the queries and keywords. Even small changes in keywords can make difference in the search results, search result ranking and ultimately, website visitors.

How to Choose a Keyword?

Keyword research is one of the most confusing parts for the webmasters. Before finalizing a keyword, many factors need to be considered.

The factors affecting the selection of keywords are:

  • Keyword Length- Generally, short length keywords have high demand and long tail keywords are relatively less demanding. Long tail keywords show that the user is looking for very specific piece information, which can have relatively less competition compared to the short length keywords. If your website is not much popular, start with long tail keywords because you can rank well due to less competition and the conversion rate will be much higher as the user is very specific to his needs.
  • Keyword Demand and Keyword Length Curve.
    Keyword Demand and Keyword Length Curve.

  • Keyword Demand- Keyword demand changes with keyword length and its importance with respect to time. Note that, the visits for a particular keyword are subjective to the change in demand as per changing market conditions.
  • Synonyms/Alternative Words- There can be a lot of permutations and combinations of words. Every word can have an alternative or synonym.

    Example- The user may either search for
    best smartphones” or “best smartphones of 2012” or “best smartphones of the year“.

Keyword Demand vs Keyword Length Example.
Keyword Demand vs Keyword Length Example.

You can notice in the above example, as the keyword length increases, the keyword demand decreases.

The most important factor for keyword research is to understand your audience/visitors well. Think in those lines and try to understand ( or rather estimate) what keywords would they use to search particular information on the web that matches your content.

Basic SEO Steps - Use Google Adwords Tool for Keyword Research.
Use Google Adwords Tool for Keyword Research.

Use keyword research tools such as Google Adwords to check the keyword difficulty and competition. You can try different combinations of keywords in the tool and finalize some important keywords, which matches your niche and content.

How to Use Keywords?

Keyword targeting can be accomplished in various elements of a webpage. You can use separate keywords in each webpage based on the content. You can request referral websites to use those keywords as anchor text while linking to your webpages.

  1. URL – Static URLs with keywords present in it is also an effective way of search engine optimization of your content. It does not mean that the webpages with dynamic URL without keywords do not rank well. A webpage with quality content always ranks well but it does not hurt to include some small changes like these to make it even simpler for search engines to consider a higher ranking for our content. Read URL Optimization Tips for more information on how to effectively use keywords in URL.
  2. Anchor Text – Anchor text is the visible text in the links. After the recent algorithm updates, Google is not only checking the anchor text but also some more text near it for the keywords.
  3. Title – Title of each webpage is displayed in the search engine results so title is one of the most important places where the search engine looks out for keywords. Read Title Tag Optimization Tips to know how to place keywords in Title of webpage.
  4. H1, Meta, and Body – It is a good practice to include the keywords wherever necessary in the H1 header, Meta Description, and the Body of the webpage.
  5. Image Alt – As search engines cannot understand non-text elements such as images, Alt and Title attributes in the img tag is used to explain or rather, assist the search engine to understand the context of the image. Using the keywords in the Alt and Title attributes of the image tag will make it clear for the search engine to know the meaning and intent of the image. Image Optimization Tips explains how to use keywords for images.
  6. To find and learn even more ways to optimize your webpage with keywords, read Webpage Optimization For Better Ranking.

Keyword Stuffing is Bad

Sometimes, you might have come across the term “keyword density” which people discuss. Keyword density refers to the number of times a keyword is used per 100 words in the webpage. In our opinion, when you talk about keyword density, you are blowing it out of proportion and there is no need to maintain any particular level of keyword density. In fact, repeating the keywords degrades the reading experience of a user, so Keyword Stuffing is considered as a type of web spam.

Google’s latest algorithm update Penguin decreases search engine rankings the website,which engages in Black hat SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing, cloaking and participating in content spinning and linking schemes.

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