Masterclass: Keywords, Keyword Phrases and SEO

Almost every single client we deal with wants to discuss SEO, in particular keyword strategies. Keywords and keyword phrases are critical to the success of your website, so let’s start at the beginning and define what keywords are and why they should form the very basis of every online communication you make.

What is a Keyword?

In its traditional sense, the definition of a keyword is “A word or concept of great importance”.

And in the world of internet marketing, the meaning of keyword is virtually the same, defined as, “A word used by a search engine in its search for relevant Web pages” (Source)

So what is a keyword?

In this sense, keywords are words with great importance not only to you, but to your target consumer and to your overall online success.

Let’s break it down further…

When someone types in a few words into a search engine, that search engine begins to trawl through the internet searching for matches. If your own web page is deemed to be rich in those particular words, your website will be highlighted and returned as an option for the consumer to review. Those same words that have been put into the search engine are what is known as keywords and keyword phrases.

Now it’s important to note here, it is highly unlikely that your website will be the only website rich on those particular keywords, so there are more complex processes behind the scenes which decide who ranks where – but we will delve more deeply into that in an upcoming post.

Defining your Keywords

So how do you choose the right Keywords for your business? This is more difficult than it may seem.

Firstly, you need to start thinking more like your target audience.

Start thinking about all the ways your target consumer would label or describe or search for your product or service. Think about the solutions that your business provides, and imagine your customer searching for that solution. You may be aware of it by name, or you may just search on your need. Brainstorming for different keyword and keyword phrase ideas is a good exercise to undertake (see I for Ideas).

For example, if you sell Sharpie Markers, your keywords might be Pen, Marker, Purple or Sharpie. Your keyword phrases may be “permanent marker”, “freezer proof marker”, “pen to write on plastic”, “pen for labelling DVD” and so on.

Testing Your Keywords

When I work on Keywords for clients the first thing I do is open up the Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Firstly plug in your website and the tool will show you keyword suggestions based on your website content. If the keywords are aligned with what you do, fantastic – this means your website is already sending out the right message and may just need a tune up. If the keyword suggestions seem largely irrelevant to your business, you can assume that your website traffic could definitely be improved with a little bit of work.

The next step is to determine which words are used most often when people are looking for your business or service. Using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, type in a few words that describe your business or service into the very top box for keywords and keyword phrases. The search results will provide you with hundreds of suggestions based on your words.

When you are analysing your search results, look for keywords that return a strong volume of searches and medium to low competition, this is a mass marketing approach. Also look for keyword phrases that have low volumes of search and low competition. If 5,000 people search for that particular keyword phrase in a month and there is very low competition, you have an opportunity to maximise your website ranking against that particular keyword.

How to use Keywords for SEO

After you have defined and tested your keyword and keyword phrases, establish a top 3-5 word list of keywords or keyword phrases you will focus on. This list will form an important part of your SEO strategy.

On your Website

Ensure your website Title Tag, Meta Data and Meta Keywords (ask us about these if you’re new to this), are written within “the rules” of length and then use as many of your keywords and keyword phrases as possible.

On your homepage, ensure you have at least one text box of information (text boxes are easily read by search engines, while words in a picture are not). Make sure that when you write this text you include as many of your keyword and keyword phrases as possible while still communicating your brand’s tone and image (B is for Branding).

Using Google AdWords

If you decide to use a Google AdWords campaign, make sure the keywords you target are linked back to the ads you write and are the same keyword and keyword phrases you have selected on your top 3-5 list.

On your Blog

Research keyword and keyword phrases that are relevant to every blog post you write and make sure you use them appropriately.

Have I emphasised enough how very important keyword and keyword phrases are?

Not only are they critical for SEO but they really do determine the success of your online presence.


How do you determine which keywords to use for your business?






P.S. A quick word and warning on keyword stuffing! The trend a few years back was to recommend repeating keyword and keyword phrases in large blocks at the bottom of every page on their website to “Maximise SEO”. Unfortunately most search engines wised up to this and as a result they wrote an algorithm that detects keyword stuffing (as it’s known) and will negatively rank sites that go down this path. You’ve been warned..!