Keywords have formed the basis of website owners’ efforts to reach the top of Google’s search results pages since the 90s.
And although the increasingly sophisticated algorithms of today’s search engines take into account more than 200 different factors when deciding how to rank a site, ensuring your site is properly populated with relevant keywords is still critical to ranking well.
Here’s what you need to know.
What exactly are keywords?
Keywords – and key phrases – are pieces of text that site owners can abstract from search engine query results. In many cases, they’re also added to a site’s copy under the belief that these phrases are what users are searching for.
Keywords can be anything and everything, and reflect a range of user interests and needs. They can range from the informational, such as “who shot President Kennedy?” to the location-based, such as “what can I find a family pub in Nottingham?” to the purely transactional, such as “buy a YT12B-BS battery”.
But as varied as they can be, they have one thing in common: they’re a reflection of a user’s desire to find an answer to a particular question.
How can I leverage keywords to achieve more sales?
Understanding the role of keywords as part of a larger effort to index and rank high-quality sites is an important step when it comes to positioning your site for success. But it’s just one part of the solution.
The more highly contested your industry, the more sophisticated you’ll have to be when it comes to your keyword approach. Typically, this will mean creating a library of useful, valuable content that your visitors will want to read and share.
Keywords in site content
Use Google’s keyword tool or UberSuggest to obtain a list of popular and relevant keywords related to your site. You can then add these keywords to existing content pages – where relevant – or craft new pages based around these keywords.
For example, a site owner specialising in selling shoes would want to create basic pages such as “shoes for men” or “shoes online”. Pages incorporating terms such as “shoes in London Fashion Week” can be used to rank highly for less contested terms.
Keywords in product pages
Traffic is one thing, but sales are another. Visitors with the greatest potential for conversion are most likely to land on your product pages – so you need to optimise for keywords accordingly.
Ensure that your product names are clear, detailed and that they match what people are searching for. For example, a product listing such as “black leather scuff-resistant school shoes for boys” can capture a wide variety of searches.
Keywords in categories
Keywords can be invaluable in informing how you organise your store’s categories.
Head to UberSuggest and add in the category titles that your competitors are using. This is a great way to get an initial list of keywords. Break these down into features such as “school shoes” or “scuff-resistant shoes”, creating a maximum of 20 categories.
Once you’ve done this, craft a helpful overview text of around 300 words for each category page. This text block should be keyword rich and informative – that is, geared towards what users will be looking to find on a particular page. These may include “soles”, “laces”, “leather” and “heel”.
With the increased search emphasis on valuable, informative content, longer-form content can also rank well – and is often highly shareable. Consider crafting or commissioning a series of in-depth articles about relevant and interesting topics such as the impact on footwear fashions on health or the podiatry issues associated with buying school shoes.
Tip: Head to Google Hot Trends for a list of newly popular key words that might inspire your next piece of content. You can also use Google Analytics to see what people are looking for when they land on your site – and create additional content in response to this.
Keywords aren’t the only answer – but they are an answer
A staggering 15%-20% of the 3 billion searches undertaken on a daily basis are completely new and unique – meaning that there’s a huge amount of potential for you to provide answers and information that no one else is providing.
The key is to strategically focus on relevance, quality, value and shareability. Keep these in mind, and you’ll rank well without having to resort to “gaming” the system.