What are Keywords?


Keywords are a tricky business – literally. With the right amount of money, your local electronics store can appear before Best Buy in a Google search for “DVD players.”

But what really is a keyword? Read on to learn about keywords and how you can use them to your business’s advantage.

So what are they?

It depends on who you ask. To consumers, keywords are the short phrases or words that describe what they’re looking for. To marketers, they’re the important words that need to be included in a website or paid search term in order to be found by customers.

Keywords are search terms or ideas that define your business’s content. If you run a site that sells refurbished VHS players, a customer searching for your product would search for the keyword “refurbished VHS player” or “VHS players for sale” to (hopefully) find your business.

There are several different types of keywords, each used differently. 

SEO Keywords

Keywords for SEO are a bridge for what a person is searching for and your content. You can never have too many keywords on the back end of your website content. These are not user-facing, but they can be found by search engines. 

When setting keywords for your site, the back end platform you use will have a spot for you to set a primary keyword per page or product. For example, if your company sells different types of shoes, each individual shoe will have its own primary keyword on the back end. High heels, sandals, tennis shoes, cleats, etc. 

These are all examples of Product Keywords, or keywords that describe your product best. Usually they will be short and more to the point to reach a wider audience.

Market Segment Keywords

Market Segment keywords describe what your company sells or offers. These keywords are key (pun intended) for local businesses. For example, a local car wash only targeting the geographic area around them would use specific market segment keywords like:

  • Car wash
  • Car wash near me
  • Closest car wash
  • Best car wash

These keywords are mainly used by consumers. It wouldn’t make sense to include “car wash near me” in your back end SEO keywords. Instead, Google’s algorithm allows consumers to search for these market segment keywords and uses Google Maps and Google My Business data to deliver results. 

The best marketers can do to capitalize on market segment keywords is to include descriptor words of what their business sells and does in the back end of their site. Instead of “car wash near me,” use the organic keyword “car wash” or “car wash Cleveland” instead.

Branding Keywords

Branding Keywords are almost the same thing as market segment keywords. The only difference is that your company’s name is added in front of the market segment keyword. 

For example, “car wash near me” becomes “Zippy’s Car Wash.” and “closest car wash” becomes “Zippy’s car wash near me.”

Again, these keywords are mainly used on the consumer search side of the equation. But you can use them in your website’s content by including organic keywords like “Zippy’s,” “Car wash,” and “Zippy’s Car Wash.

By adding your company name, you work with the search engine algorithm. Google is still looking for car washes, but, more specifically, a Zippy’s Car Wash.

Long Tail Keywords

Long Tail keywords are for when the user gets specific and to the point. You aren’t just looking for “refurbished VHS players,” you’re looking for a “1982 refurbished VHS player with boosted rewind system.” 

They are much more niche than short-tail keywords like “high heels” or “refurbished VHS player.” This means the audience searching your terms is smaller, but because they’re so specific in what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to buy.

Another long-tail keyword example: “closest car wash where they clean the inside and outside of your car”.  There are fewer people searching for this term compared to those searching “car wash near me.” However, the people who do search that long tail keyword are more likely to convert. 

Paid Keywords

When you Google something, have you ever noticed the tiny “ad” graphics that show up next to the first results? That means someone paid money to Google to show their product above the top organic searches. (These are non-paid searches. The rest of the keyword examples in this post are organic.) 

Running a paid campaign is helpful if your company is not as well known as other companies. Back to the shoe example, if you’re selling cleats online and competing against companies like Nike and Adidas, you can pay to have your ad show up before the Nike online store. 

Just remember, the price is always right here. It may cost thousands of marketing dollars to show up before Nike, but you can pay a modest sum to have your refurbished VHS business show up before any other organic results. 

The best way to use keywords is to know your audience and know what they’re searching for. There’s no point in having great keywords that don’t reach your actual customers. 

Use these different keyword forms to guide your site’s back and front-end content and create a GoogleAds paid strategy. With a little work and a lot of strategy, you can use keywords to your business’s advantage and skyrocket your site traffic. 

Learn more about keywords and lead generation with the tips and tricks in our free eBook!


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