Keywords are the words and phrases internet users type into the search box of a search engine, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, when they are trying to find information online. For example, someone might search online for “plumbers in Derby” or “builders in Leicester” when they are looking for a tradesperson. The most relevant websites will be displayed in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) that the user sees, ranked from top to bottom based on a number of factors and choosing the right keywords helps fill one of these factors.
One of the main goals of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is to tweak websites so they have a greater chance of ranking higher in the SERPs, increasing the amount of organic traffic (traffic that hasn’t been paid for) they receive. Choosing the right keywords is a crucial component of SEO, despite what you might have read to the contrary.
A quick note about keyword stuffing
Keywords have received plenty of bad press over the years because of the way they used to be abused by unscrupulous “black hat” SEO practitioners. These individuals would stuff web pages with keywords – either blatantly or hidden – in an attempt to fool the search engines into thinking their websites and content were relevant and, as a result, should rank high.
Obviously, it didn’t take long for the search engines to get wise to these tactics and release algorithm updates to not only prevent them from working in the future, but also penalise websites that were found to be keyword stuffing by reducing their rankings.
The knock-on effect of all this was that people (wrongly) thought of keywords in a less favourable light, when actually they are just as relevant today as they’ve ever been.
Choosing the right keywords as a tradesperson
The thing with choosing the right keywords that you use on your website and in your content, is that they must always be relevant to your business. That’s because the search engines of the world are constantly striving to improve the user experience for people who use them and that means displaying the most relevant, informative and accurate results every time someone conducts an internet search.
So, if you’re a plumber, you’ll want to include keywords on your website and in your content that relate to the plumbing trade – keywords that people looking for services like the ones you offer might enter into a search engine.
A great place to start when figuring out your keywords is by simply brainstorming words and phrases that people might search for when they are looking for businesses like yours. For example, if you’re a builder then keywords like “building services”, “builders”, “building companies” and other relevant terms should absolutely appear on your web pages and in your content.
For tradespeople, keywords that incorporate a geographical location are also a great choice. That’s because internet users will almost certainly include their own location or nearby areas when looking for a plumber, a builder, a joiner, a plasterer, etc.
At the end of the day, it would be much better to rank highly for the phrase “plasterer in Wolverhampton” than just “plastering services” because people searching for a plasterer in Wolverhampton will be much more likely to utilise your company than people just searching for plastering services with no geographic specification.
Long tail keywords, short tail keywords & keyword research
When talking about choosing the right keywords you will often hear people use the terms long tail and short tail.
These two phrases simply relate to the type of keyword phrase being used.
In very simple terms, long tail keywords are search phrases that use more words, like “reputable building firm in Derby”. Short tail keywords are much broader and use fewer words, for example, “building firm”. Both kinds have different uses and benefits.
To help you figure out which type of keywords (long tail or short tail) you should be using, we’ve created two additional pieces of content to help you: A guide on long tail keywords and a guide on short tail keywords.
We’ve also written a separate guide on how to conduct keyword research, which will outline the steps you need to take to identify the keywords that are most relevant to your business.
Having read all these pieces of content, you should be in a much better position to decide not only for choosing the right keywords you want to target, but also how to target them.