What is a Keyword in SEO? The Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Optimization

What is a keyword in SEO? Keyword research abstract graphic

If you’re trying to achieve better webpage visibility in search engines, it’s important to understand what keywords are and how they’re used.

In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about keywords in SEO so that you can optimize your website for better results. Let’s get started!

What is a keyword in SEO?

In short, keywords are what help people find your website when they use a search engine.

But what are they exactly? Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into a search engine to find what they’re looking for.

For example, if you’re a website design company, some of the keywords you would want to rank for on your web page would be “website design”, “web design”, and “web designer”.

SEO keywords are important because they help search engines understand what your website is about.

When you optimize your website using relevant keywords, you’re telling the search engine that your website is a good match for what the user is looking for. This can help your website rank higher in search engine rankings, which means more people will see your site when they search online.

There’s more to optimizing websites for search engines than just keywords. Learn all about SEO for a new website on our blog!

How keywords work and how to use them for search engine optimization

Now that you know what keywords are, let’s talk about how they work and how to use them for optimization.

How do keywords work?

As we mentioned, keywords are what help people find your website when they use a search engine. When someone types a keyword into a search engine, the search engine looks through all of the websites that contain that keyword to find the best match for what the user is looking for.

To make sure your website comes up as one of the top results, you need to use relevant keywords throughout your site. This includes using keywords in your website’s title, in the headings and body of your content, and in your website’s metadata.

Using keywords throughout your site will help the search engine understand what your website is about and match it with users who are looking for websites like yours.

How to use keywords for search engine optimization

There are a few different ways you can use keywords to optimize your website for better results in the search engine.

First, you need to choose the right keywords. This means finding the keywords that are most relevant to your business and what users are searching for.

Once you’ve chosen the right keywords, you need to use them throughout your site. As we mentioned, this includes using them throughout the website including in the title, in the headings and body of your content, and in your website’s metadata.

Types of keywords in SEO

There are a few different types of keywords you’ll need to be aware of when optimizing your website for search engines.

Short-tail keyword

A short-tail keyword is a keyword that is one or two words long. For example, “web design” is a short-tail keyword.

Short-tail keywords are what most people think of when they think of keywords. They’re the most common type of keyword, and they’re what you’ll use most often when optimizing your website.

Short-tail keywords are important because they’re what most people search for when they’re looking for something online. But because they’re so popular and search volume is so high, they can be hard to rank for in the search engine.

Long-tail keyword

The second type of keyword is the long-tail keyword. Long-tail keywords are more specific phrases that describe what users are looking for.

For example, if you’re a web design company, some long-tail keywords you might want to target would be “Houston wordpress web design” or “small business eCommerce web design”.

Product-defining keyword

The third type of keyword is a product-defining keyword.

Product-defining keywords are keywords that define what a product is. For example, if you’re selling website design services, your product-defining keywords would be “website design services” or “web designer”.

Product-defining keywords are important because they help your customers understand what your product is. They can also be used to help you rank for specific product keywords in the search engine.

Customer-defining keyword

The fourth type of keyword is a customer-defining keyword.

Customer-defining keywords are keywords that help search engines understand who your intended customers are . For example, if you’re a web design company that specializes in small business websites, some customer-defining keywords would be “small business”, “startup”, and “SMB”.

Customer-defining keywords for SEO are important because they can be used to help you rank for specific customer keywords in the search engine.

Short-term keyword

A short-term keyword is a keyword that you expect to be popular for a short period of time. For example, if there’s a new movie coming out, you might want to target the keyword “new movie” for a short period of time leading up to the release date.

Short-term keywords can be a great way to get a lot of traffic to your website quickly. But because they’re only popular for a short period of time, you’ll need to constantly be on the lookout for new short-term keywords to target.

Long-term keyword

Additionally, another type of keyword is a long-term keyword. Long-term keywords are keywords that you expect to be popular for a long period of time. For example, if you’re a web design company, “web design” would be a long-term keyword.

Long-term keywords are important because they’re what you’ll use to get most of your traffic from the search engine. While they may not get you as much traffic as a short-term keyword, they’ll get you more consistent traffic over time.

Geo-targeting keyword

Another type of keyword is a geo-targeting keyword. Geo-targeting keywords are keywords that you target to a specific location. For example, if you’re a web design company in Los Angeles, you might want to target the keyword “Los Angeles web design”.

Geo-targeting keywords are important because they help you rank for keywords in the search engine specific to your location. This can be a great way to get traffic from people who are searching for businesses like yours in your area.

Intent-targeting keyword

The final type of keyword is an intent-targeting keyword. Intent targeting keywords are keywords that you target to a specific user intent or search intent. For example, if you’re a web design company, you might want to target the keyword “website design” for users who are looking to have a website designed.

It’s important to note, these types of keywords are going to overlap with the other ones in the list. For example, a keyword can be both a short-term keyword and an intent-targeting keyword. The important thing is to understand what type of keyword it is so that you can use it effectively in your SEO efforts.

Intent targeting keywords are important because they help you rank for keywords that are specific to what users are looking for. This can be a great way to get traffic from users who are specifically looking for the services that you offer.

Now that you know what types of keywords there are, let’s take a look at how to use them in your SEO efforts.

Person with a laptop that says SEO (Search engine optimization)

How to find the right keywords for your website

Keyword research is the process of finding and selecting the best keywords to target for your website.

By targeting the right keywords, you can improve your website’s visibility in search engine results pages, attract more relevant visitors, and improve your search engine ranking.

There are three steps to SEO keyword research:

Brainstorm

Start by brainstorming a list of potential keywords. Think about the products or services you offer, and the topics related to your business.

You can also use a tool like Google AdWords Keyword Planner to get ideas for keywords. Just enter a seed keyword into the tool, and it will generate a list of related keywords.

Once you have a list of potential keywords, it’s time to start narrowing down your options.

Use keyword research tools to narrow down your list

Once you have a list of potential keywords, you’ll need to start narrowing down your options.

There are a number of keyword research tools available, including Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Moz Keyword Explorer.

These tools will help you find information about each keyword, including the average monthly search volume, the competition level, and the estimated CPC.

This information will help you determine which keywords are worth targeting for your website.

Evaluate and implement

Finally, evaluate the keywords based on their relevance to your business and the amount of traffic they could generate.

Then, start implementing the keywords into your website’s content. Try to include these in your website’s SEO title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and body copy.

Learn how to write SEO titles here!

The benefits of using keywords in SEO

As you can see, finding keywords for SEO and doing keyword research can be a bit of a process. But, it’s worth it. By targeting the right keywords, you can see some serious benefits for your website, including:

  • Improved visibility in search engine results pages
  • More relevant traffic
  • Better search engine ranking
  • Increased brand awareness

When it comes to SEO, keywords are everything. They’re what help you show up in search engine results pages (SERPs), and they’re what you want potential customers to be searching for when they’re looking for businesses like yours. In other words: if you want people to find your website, you need to use keywords. Check out our guide on SEO for a new website, if you’re just getting started.

Conclusion

If you want your website to be found by potential customers, you need to use keywords in your SEO efforts.

As discussed, keywords for SEO help improve visibility in search engine results pages, attract more relevant visitors, and improve your search engine ranking. Incorporating the right keywords can have a number of benefits for your website, including increased brand awareness and improved search engine ranking.

If you need help with your SEO keyword research or want to learn more about how keywords can benefit your website, contact DOS today. Our experts can help you find the right keywords for your business and implement them into your website’s content.

Still have questions? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Further Reading

Keyword Cannibalization: Definition + How to Avoid it [2024]

Frequently Asked Questions

Are keywords and SEO the same?

No, keywords and SEO are not the same. Keywords are just one part of what goes into SEO. Other important parts of SEO include things like website structure, website content, and link building.

New to SEO? Check out the different types of SEO here.

Can I pay to have my website rank higher in the search engine results pages?

SEO is a mostly organic process, but you can pay to rank for certain keywords. The cost per click can vary depending on the competitiveness of the keyword. However, you should be careful when paying for keywords, as it can result in what’s called “keyword stuffing.” This is when a website Stuffing too many keywords into their content in an attempt to rank higher for those keywords.

How long does it take for keywords to start working?

It may take three to six months depending on their domain authority for your website to start ranking higher in the search engine results pages with the help of keywords. But if you continue to use them effectively, you’ll start seeing results over time.

What are some helpful keyword tools?

There are a number of helpful keyword tools that can help you with your keyword research. Check out our top picks for keyword research tools, if you’re just getting started.

How do I track my keywords?

You can use tools like Google Analytics to track how many people are visiting your site from search engines, and which keywords they’re using to find you. This will help you determine which keywords are working best for you and which ones you should focus on more.

What is keyword stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is the act of filling your website’s content with so many keywords that it becomes difficult to read. This practice is frowned upon by search engines and can actually hurt your ranking. So, be sure to use keywords sparingly and only when they make sense.

Picture of Noelle Thuillier

Noelle Thuillier

Noelle is a Content Specialist for WGM. She writes and edits all business content, including blogs, press releases, social media posts, and technical writing pieces. With over ten years of experience writing, Noelle has been published on many reputable sites during her career, including TheScriptLab.com and HelloGiggles.com. Before coming to WGM, she worked as a News Director at KWHI in Brenham, Texas. Noelle oversaw the newsroom writing stories, producing content, and being an on-air personality. In addition to her bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Noelle holds a Master in Arts degree in Communication and Media Studies from the University of Greenwich in London, England. Noelle’s other passion in life is her family. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Joe, daughter, Frankie, and English Bulldog, Alvin. She also loves to travel, with her favorite destinations so far being Ireland and the Czech Republic.

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