December 10, 2015

How to Choose Keywords For Your Website

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You have a lovely website showcasing your expertise and products or services. You spent a lot of time and resources, and the result is fantastic: a shiny, newly designed site with loads of information, ready to show potential customers what you can do. Awesome.

But no one is actually finding the website. Not awesome. What went wrong?

It’s possible you were thinking from an internal standpoint and using keyword phrases that don't really jibe with how potential customers think and search. Essentially, you weren't  thinking like a customer.

Learning how to choose keywords for your website will help. We won’t go into the more technical side of that in this post, but fasten your seat belts to learn the general idea behind keywords and how to use them.

The Importance of KeywordsThe Importance of Keywords

We recently told you about the places on your website where you should be using keywords for search engine optimization (SEO). So what exactly are keywords? In a nutshell, keywords are the terms that people type into search engines to get results. Results that you hope will include your company (But they’re not right now. Darn.).

So keywords allow people — your potential customers — to find your website. As Hubspot explains here, there are broad keywords that are more general, and long-tail keywords that are more specific — and more likely to target and attract interested customers. Long-tail keywords also have less competition in searches, making it easier for you to get on that coveted first page of search results. As Hubspot says, try going for those long-tail keywords if you’re just getting started with SEO.

Exactly how important are keywords? If you choose a broad keyword with a lot of competition, it’s not likely customers are going to find you. You’ll be one tiny Who in Whoville on a speck on a dandelion, and maybe only Horton will hear you. Elephants are great and faithful and all, but you need more than one customer. If you pick the right long-tail keyword, it’s like you’ve just invited 10 potential new best friends for a dinner party. And parties are fun.

Think Like a CustomerThink Like a Customer

So it’s established that you’re going to embrace those long-tail keywords as if they are your new best friends. But, um, how do you make new best friends? (Seriously, how do you make new best friends as an adult? It’s super hard.)

To choose keywords for your website that will actually attract new visitors who fit your customer profile, start by thinking about what problems you’re solving with your products and services.

Say you are a specialty pet food manufacturer (yeah, yeah, again with the animals, I can’t help with it). You make a fabulous dog food that is high-protein, grain-free and free of ingredients that can aggravate sensitive animals. Surely you aren’t going to use a broad keyword like “dog food.” That’s appealing to every dog owner everywhere. They won’t all be interested in your food — and if they are, they’re not likely to find you in those search results.

Instead of thinking about what you are, think about what you actually do. I’m not saying what you physically do, like manufacturing or distributing, or providing services. What is your customer’s problem? What are you solving for them?

In the case of the specialty pet food maker, potential problems they're solving include reducing skin allergies in dogs, helping dogs with sensitive stomachs, and providing food for a dog with a grain allergy. If you were a customer needing those problems solved, how would you search in Google? What terms would you use? Possibly something like “food for dog with a sensitive stomach.” Or maybe “food for dog with skin rashes,” or “does grain free dog food help allergies.” You get the drill.

The image below was from the first page of search results for “does grain free dog food help allergies.” Most results on this page were news articles, but this one smart company made it onto the first page.

Example of how to choose keywords to get on the first page of serch results.

If you’ve done market research showing that most of your customers typically arrive to you already educated (meaning they're likely in the decision stage), you’d want to alter your keyword phrasing to something a little more targeted. Perhaps something like “best grain-free food for dogs” or “best limited ingredient dog food.” Ideally, you might want to hit a little bit of both kinds of buckets of potential customers, and use both of those keyword examples in your online content.

All make sense?

Fine-Tuning Your KeywordsFine-Tuning Your Keywords

So now you’ve thought like your customers and potential customers. You’ve been all up in their psyches (If they have a problem, yo, you’ll solve it. Check out the keyword hook while the Google revolves it). You have an idea of the types of keyword phrases you want to use. You’ve now chosen keywords for your website! Right?

Well, you’re not exactly there yet. You still need to do some research to see if you’ll have SEO success with these keywords. That’s a big topic for another post, but here are the basics: You want to see what the competition is like for those keywords, and how many searches are made using those specific keywords. This research essentially tells you how likely it is you’ll end up one Page 1 of search results, and how many potential customers might actually see that page of search results — and thereby mosey on over to your website.

There are quite a few tools you can use for this research. Hubspot has a good tool, and other services like Google AdWords have helpful ones as well.

Are you confident now about how to choose keywords for your website? Good, you should be. Now seriously, message me about how to make friends as an adult. I’m not as good at that as I am about determining keywords.New Call-to-action

Wendy Angel

Wendy is a creative specialist with madison/miles media and has done a little bit of everything communications-related during her career: marketing, public relations, and writing and editing for magazines. She recently relocated to the DFW area from Atlanta with her husband and enjoys riding her horse Oliver, whose head is entirely too big for his body.