An introduction to keywords in 2019: What are keywords?

  Keywords are the foundation of successful search marketing strategies. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) begin with keywords. Search engines like Google reward websites that create keyword relevant content and information. The result is higher visibility online through search position. To gain search position, keywords are an invaluable Google ranking signal. Keywords are an intention on the part of the searcher to find information on a specific topic. More specifically, keywords are a combination of words–or a phrase–typed into the Google search bar.

A search engine process of using keywords to answer a search query looks like this:

  1. A query is entered into Google.
  2. The search engine crawls through its index. It looks for the most relevant content containing the keyword(s) or phrase(s).
  3. They present the results on the Search Engine Results Pages
To break it down a little further, there are two types of keywords. The short tail keywords and long tail keywords.  

What are short tail keywords?

A high volume of search traffic is desirable. But that alone doesn’t guarantee qualified leads, conversions or relevant engagement. The reasons for this can include a combination of:
  • Gaps in the content strategy
  • Gaps in keyword research (if there is any)
  • How the content engages consumers
Not all searches are equal. All potential visitors are at different stages of the consumer engagement cycle. To create a keyword strategy a business must ask itself, “What is the intent of the content we are creating?” The answer should include what phase the customer is in when viewing this content. The consumer engagement cycle phases are:
  • Discovery Phase
  • Research Phase
  • Purchase Phase
Short tail keywords are great for early engagement. But they don’t always do a good job of prequalifying potential clients. This is because later stage search terms are usually longer and more specific. When a consumer thinks about a topic or category in the beginning stages of engagement, they start with general search terms that give a broad snapshot about the topic. Short tail keywords–also known as “head terms”–are made up of no more than one or two words. Short tail keywords provide broad reach for a general topic. They may address a category or niche. Due to their generic nature, they can drive high volumes of search traffic to a website. This also makes them very competitive. Many different websites will be competing for a high ranking on short tail keywords. Essentially, a short tail keyword is the first door users open in their research and decision-making process. It will likely drive them further into the engagement funnel.

What are long tail keywords?

Long tail keywords are word combinations or phrases that are three to seven words in length. They produce results more specific results. This is because the searcher is more explicit about the topic or category they want to research. Long tail keywords offer limitless opportunities for websites to create highly targeted content that engages visitors. As this keyword format is more specific, another advantage is that it is less competitive and is easier to rank. You only need to compete over your specific competitors not your entire category. The keyword halal butcher shop, for example, only has to compete with other halal butchers. This makes the search query less expensive than butcher shop, and it’s more relevant to the search. The largest benefit of long tail keywords is that they convert at a higher rate. Long tail keyword searches are generally at the later stages of their research cycle or purchase decisions. Simply put, long tail keywords make a search more personal. Long tail keyword searches comprise 70% of all search traffic. As searchers become more confident in how Google returns results for their searches, they will become even more specific when they search for things they care about, instead of defaulting to a generic term and sifting through results to find what they’re looking for. Search Traffic keywords

An introduction to keyword research in 2019: What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of compiling data-driven keywords that reflect the business, its products, service, and objectives. These keywords can then be embedded into an SEO, SEM, or content strategy. Keywords that match what customers type into search engines attract more traffic. Implementing a keyword strategy is now a fundamental tactic for any business or website that wants to be found online. Whether receiving organic search traffic from an effective SEO strategy, or getting pay-per-click results through Search Engine Marketing (SEM), keywords are what the search engine uses to find the most relevant content that is displayed to searchers. A business or website needs to implement a keyword strategy in order to increase its visibility online. Search engines use keywords to find websites relevant to a user’s search. The keywords will then be incorporated into the website’s content strategy. Detailed SEO and SEM strategies will improve the likelihood of a user finding the website. Therefore, keywords, in conjunction with SEO and SEM will increase web traffic.  

How is keyword research done?

It is a practical idea to create a Google Adwords account and utilize the free Keyword Planner. This tool will suggest keyword options, variants and alternatives, and will and estimate a probable search volume for each keyword. Additionally, this free service will forecast the potential cost of using these keywords in an SEM marketing strategy. Refer back to this tool throughout the entire keyword research process for idea generation and reference. The next step of keyword research is to review engagement data to develop a better understanding of the target audience. Consider demographics and interests. Identify problems that they have and how they can be solved by the information, content, services or products the business offers. Learn how keyword research and local SEO can improve your business online. This process will provide insight into what the target consumer thinks, wants, and is likely to search for at different stages of their engagement cycle. It will also help to identify new key performance indicators (KPI’s), discover new revenue funnels and refine the content that speaks to the visitor. Keywords can be leveraged to identify the market categories of the products and services offered by the business. Simultaneously, the keyword research helps to align consumer needs and business objectives. To sum it up, Keyword research helps a business think like a consumer. The insights gathered from the data will let a business know what keywords potential visitors or customers are searching. So keyword strategies align with specific products, services, or information. Illustrated below is the evolution of a keyword as it evolves to engage different searchers at different stages of the engagement funnel:
  • Local SEO.
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  • Local SEO service for small business in Toronto.
  • The best local SEO service for small business in Toronto.
  • Hire the best local SEO service for small business in Toronto.
  • Hire the best local SEO service for small business in Downtown Toronto.
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When a list is compiled, consider searching each keyword in Google. Below the results on the SERPs, there will be a listing of related searches. These can inspire additional keywords. It is important that the list has a combination of both short tail keywords and long tail keywords. It is useful to check if competitors are leveraging similar keywords, and how those keywords are ranking for them. Try to find ways to augment and differentiate from the keywords they’ve implemented in their strategy. Evaluate all of this information to build the optimal keyword list to work into website content as well as SEO and SEM strategies.

An understanding of how keywords work in 2019 is essential to marketing a business online.

Receiving a high rank in an organic or paid search, with keywords relevant to what the consumer is searching, is an effective approach to reaching the target when they are looking to buy. Understanding how to properly implement short tail and long tail keywords in an SEO or SEM marketing strategy will increase website traffic, leads, and conversions.