Blog Post

A Beginner’s Guide to SEO Keywords


Depending on the person you ask, you might be told either that keywords are the best way to propel your website to the top of the search engine results pages or that they’re the way to doom your site to obsolescence. Which is true? The answer, predictably enough, is both and neither.

Understanding keyword optimization is a vital component to making your site both attractive to search engine algorithms and helpful for actual site visitors; the important thing is understanding how to use keywords well.


Here’s what you need to know about keyword optimization in the context of search engine marketing:

  • Not All Keywords are Words

    In the context of search engine optimization, keywords are the words or key phrases that tell search engines how to rank your site. Some are short, such as “SEO advice,” but long-tail keywords such as “how to choose keywords for SEO” can also be highly effective. You can think of them as topic words, or as the phrases and questions that people wanting to come to your site would type into a search bar. Keywords are also the basis of pay-per-click advertising campaigns, but that's a more technical process than this article can cover in depth.

  • Keywords Have to Be Relevant

    If you’re just starting out and deciding what content should be on your website, keyword research tools might not actually be the best place to start. That’s because, above all, the keywords your site uses must be relevant to what you offer, whether that’s grilling recipes, carpet steaming or legal services. If you use high-ranking keywords that don’t relate to your core business offerings, visitors will stop by, see that their needs aren’t met by your site, and immediately bounce back -- and that’s bad both for your SEO and your overall sales. Once you’ve determined the right general realm for your keywords, you can use research tools to help you figure out which terms might help you edge out your competitors and to guide your spending on PPC campaigns.

  • Density Shouldn’t Be Too High

    Keyword density is a tricky topic, and the truth is there’s no perfect percentage to aim for. Your guideline should be to use the keyword as many times as it fits into natural, readable copy; that might mean using it two times, or it might mean using it seven times. It all depends on what the keyword is. What you should avoid at all costs is keyword stuffing, or shoving keywords in where they don’t make sense in an effort to artificially boost your rankings. The days of publishing sentences like “If you’re looking for SEO advice or SEO services NY then ask your local SEO services NY about easy SEO plans” are long gone, and we should all be celebrating that fact.

Do you have any other tips to share on keyword optimization? Discuss in the comments section below.

By: Karleanne Matthews