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What are keywords and why are they important?

Put simply, keywords or key phrases, are what people are searching for in search engines.

As a business, they’re important because you want to come up in search engines when people search for the keywords or phrases that are relevant to your products or services.

To stand a chance of being near the top of the results, you need to include those words and phrases in your website. For example, if you’re an accountant that specialises in small businesses, you need to have the words “Small business accountant” (or similar) on your website to start appearing in those search results.

That might sound simple, but it’s just the start. There are lots of factors, from the number of links to the speed and security of your website, that influence how high up you appear. But creating pages and content that include the right words and phrases is a great place to start. We previously wrote a blog called 10 ways to SEO your content which dives into this a lot further.

How to find keywords

Some keywords will be obvious, like “small business accountant”. But it’s those obvious keywords that are the hardest to rank for, as everyone will have the same idea, so there will be lots of competition!

For that reason, it’s also beneficial to find what’s called “long tail keywords”. These are keywords that may be searched for less often, but are much more specific. For example, those small businesses might be searching for information on how to register for VAT, or even more specific questions like how VAT MOSS works. Finding these kind of keywords and creating high quality, useful content around them can help you get found too, by the same people that may search for the broader, more competitive keywords.

Sadly there’s no easy way to find these keywords, you will need to do a bit of investigative work to unearth them. Here’s a few tools that can help…

Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner can help you find more broad keywords at the start of your search. It’s less useful for long tail keywords but it can help you find alternative words and phrases you might not have thought of. For example, as well as searching for “small business accountant”, businesses often search for accountants that use the accounting software they’re familiar with, so “sage accountant” or “xero accountant” may also be good broad terms to target.

Google auto suggest
Once you have your broad keywords, you can use Google auto suggest to find more detailed questions. Just by typing search terms into Google you’ll see suggestions for related searches, which you can keep clicking on to get more and more specific terms.

Moz keyword suggest
Type a search term into this tool from Moz and get 1000 suggestions back!

How to use keywords

Once you have a list of keywords then it’s time to start incorporating them into your content. There’s no need to “stuff” keywords into your content, instead, focus on creating useful content around each term. You may have read in the past that you need to include the exact phrase you’re targeting a certain number of times, but now search engines are much more clever. They can understand synonyms and promote articles that may not have an exact match but contain lots of relevant information around the term searched for.

Keyword research is vital for your website SEO and should never be an afterthought.

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