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How Using Keywords Can Help (or Hurt) Your Company’s SEO Efforts
Plus: A Basic Introduction to Using Google Keyword Planner!
When it comes to SEO efforts, most people tend to think “the more keywords, the better.” And those people would be right. Right?
Wrong! (Bet you didn’t see that coming.)
When you’re trying to get Google to find and rank your website, you might be inclined to fill your webpages with keywords your consumers would be likely to search. And that’s great… To a point.
For instance, take a moment to read the following aloud to yourself:
“Do you need a new air conditioner? We install air conditioners! Our air conditioners are high quality and affordable. We provide air conditioner service throughout Maryland. If you’re looking for a new air conditioner, call our air conditioner specialists at MarylandAirConditioners@thisisajoke.com.”
Did that sound natural to you? If you answered anything but a resounding “Nooooooope,” chances are that you’re an alien slowly learning to speak like a human, so I’ll let it slide for now.
Otherwise, you probably felt uncomfortable with the amount of times that the keyword “air conditioner” was used above. And so does Google! In fact, Google even has a term for loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to boost your site’s ranking in search results. It’s called keyword stuffing.
What Is Keyword Stuffing & How Does It Affect My Ranking?
It’s a common SEO myth that Google uses keyword density (which Moz describes as the number of words on a page divided by the number of instances of a given keyword) for ranking calculations and relevancy.
Back in the day, people used to focus a lot of energy on increasing their content’s keyword density, stuffing their pages to the brim with out-of-context keywords. But Google caught on and has since cracked down on the practice, which is why at this point, keyword stuffing can actually harm your site’s ranking.
That’s Right: Using More Keywords Can Seriously Hurt Your SEO Efforts
Google cites the following as examples of keyword stuffing (in other words, AVOID THE FOLLOWING PRACTICES):
- Listing phone numbers without substantial value to your users
- Big blocks of text listing cities or states you want your webpage to rank for
- Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural (like in the example above)
There are some SEO marketers out there that will try to convince you that you should fill your webpages and blog posts with keywords over and over again in an attempt to get Google’s attention and rank higher in search results. They’re wrong. Ignore them. Tell them they’re making your website sound inauthentic, then run far, far away.
How You Should Actually Use Keywords to Boost Your Rankings in Search Results
You know what Google actually does use for relevance and ranking calculations? Relevance and authority.
Here’s the big secret to ranking well on Google search results: create high quality content that is relevant to your clients.
I know. It’s brilliant, but simple. Almost embarrassingly obvious. You’re probably smacking yourself in the head, thinking, “I should have thought of that!” Just like I did the first time I saw the Snuggie. (Seriously. HOW many nights have I spent wrapped in my blanket like a slug, popping my arms out so I can use the remote control? And yet this guy just sews sleeves on a blanket and makes millions? UGH.)
So, bearing in mind that all Google wants to see on your webpage is quality content that your users will actually care about, you should use keywords when they would sound natural if read aloud. So, the example we included above might perform better if it looked like this:
“Looking for a new air conditioner? We can help! Our team of skilled HVAC technicians install high quality, affordable AC units throughout Maryland. Contact us today at 555-555-5555 to learn more about our heating and cooling services.”
See how the latter example sounds more like a sentence you’d hear from an actual human being (instead of from a robot looking to take over the world and rule us all)? That’s because instead of focusing on stuffing the keyword “air conditioner” into it as often as possible, it focuses on providing the information that users are actually interested in.
Are You Using the Right Keywords?
At this point, you’re probably wondering whether the keywords on your site are awful or awesome. And you’re probably worried, because you don’t know how to tell whether you’re doing things right or not. Here’s the sad truth: there’s really no way to be sure. (Sucks, I know.)
That said, there is an awesome (and free!) tool you can use to make more informed decisions about which keywords to use on your website to a) boost your rankings, which b) offers you more leads, and ultimately, c) gets you more sales from your website.
This tool is called the Google Keyword Planner, and it’s about to make choosing the right keywords to feature on your website so much easier! To access the tool, you’ll need to create a Google Adwords account if you don’t have one already.
Once you’ve logged into the tool, it will ask you what you want to do—whether you want to search for new keyword and ad group ideas, get search volume for a list of keywords or group them into ad groups, or multiply keyword lists to get new keyword ideas.
For right now, we’ll focus on that first option: searching for new keyword or ad group ideas.
How to Find New Keywords That Work for You
If this is your first time in the tool, it may seem a bit confusing, but bear with me. When you select that “search for a new keyword or ad group ideas” option, you’ll see a page asking you to enter your product or service, your landing page, and your product category.
- Your Product or Service: Here, you should enter a few keywords. I’d suggest between three and five. For example, if you’re an HVAC business, you should enter “HVAC” “heating and cooling,” “heating and air conditioning,” etc.
- Your Landing Page: This should be a link to your homepage or to an internal link on your website.
- Your Product Category: This should be your industry.
You can also add in negative keywords, which would be any keywords you do not want to show up for. For instance, if you’re an HVAC company, but you don’t install portable or window units, you could add the terms “portable” and “window” to your negative keywords list. And, ta-daaaa. Now you won’t get keyword ideas that you can’t use!
Additionally, you have the option to complete the targeting section on this page. Usually, these will be pre-set to United States, English, and Google. If your audience is in another country or speaks another language, this is where you would change that information. Or, if you’d like to choose a more specific location to target (for example, the D.C. area) you could add Washington, D.C. as the location to target your specific audience.
Now that you’ve submitted all of this information, the tool will spit some keywords back out at you. You can see an example of a list of keywords for an HVAC company below. You’ll want to take a look at the average monthly searches column to get a feel for the search volume of each keyword (aka, how many people are actually searching for it to find your site).
And there you have it! Based on these results, you could move forward using the keyword “air conditioner” more often than “air conditioning,” since that seems to be what people are searching for to find your cooling services. But remember—only use those keywords in relevant, natural ways that will benefit your potential clients! Because as we’ve learned, keyword stuffing won’t get you anywhere.
For right now, we won’t get into keyword filters or keyword options—we can save that for another day in the future. A day when you’ve already got a killer lead-to-conversion rate on your business’s website and you’re simply looking to increase your sales even more.
Ready to learn more about how you can use keywords and other methods to improve your company’s ranking in search results (or would you rather hand the job over to someone else)? Either way, we can help! Contact our team of SEO specialists at Blue Corona to learn how our content marketing services can benefit your business.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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