Saturday, May 28, 2016

SEO 101: Keywords

It's 90 degrees in Philadelphia today--the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. For weeks on the East Coast, throughout April and May, we've endured cool (at times cold) dreary weather. We've longed for heat. Earlier this week, on Monday, the temperatures hardly hit 60. Then, Wednesday, out of the blue...

What words conjure summer for you? Water? Heat? Fun?

The iconography of summer is rich and evocative. A single summery word can illicit a singular emotion. Say the word "beach" and we all have a distinctive feeling.

 [Photo Source: Secret Forts]

The best brands understand how to evoke a singular emotion with a simple word or phrase. Think of Nike's "Just do it." Or Apple's "Think Different." The slogans are famous.

More famous, however, are the brand names: Nike and Apple. When you Google "Apple" for example, Google understands you're looking for the company--not the fruit. The brand has become so noteworthy its fame exceeds the world's most famous fruit. (You won't even find mention of the fruit on the first SERP).

We're noting these examples to illustrate a simple point: the power of simple words--or, in SEO parlance, keywords.

The SEO world has been speaking about the "death of keywords" for years. For many, the word  conjures negative associations. It is true, in the early days of SEO, certain Black Hat specialists practiced keyword stuffing, excessively adding specific words or phrases into a site’s content--and more sinister, into a site's development.

This practice was unethical--yet effective, for a time. Today, however, search engines can easily spot keyword stuffing. The practice is entirely ineffective.

And yet, the judicious use of keywords is still the best way to promote a brand online.

Long Tail Keywords

Today, many in the SEO world speak of the importance of long-tail keywords--not words, but phrases or sentences that more specifically match the queries of today's browsers.

As Jayson DeMers wrote over at Search Engine Land last year: "The focus on keyword-based search engine optimization is dying quickly." DeMers believes long-tail keywords signal the new, easier way to rank:

"Essentially, long-tail keywords are less popular keywords because they have less search volume and less competition to rank for. Consider the following two examples: 'home remedies for bed bugs' or 'how to get rid of depression.' These are each considered long-tail keywords as compared to trying to rank for the much more competitive search terms 'bed bugs' or 'depression.'"

We agree with DeMer's assessment, but we also have to say: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Keywords

Call it what you will, a keyword or a long-tail keyword, the essence is the same.

A "keyword" is the word or words that most precisely conjure the image of your brand. For brands like Nike and Apple, the work is done. We merely need to say "Apple" to conjure a host of products--many of which we likely own: iPhones, iPads. MacBooks, etc.

When building a brand, the goal is to illicit a similar response in your customers. You want your brand to be known by name and product name. When beginning to market your brand, you must choose the right words for each.

Keywords are not dead--not by a long shot. A recent article on SEO by Entrepreneur, proves the point. Of nine SEO tips, four reference keywords specifically, including the first, most essential tip: "Pick a good Keyword to Focus on."

"The first step" Brandon Turner writes, "is to simply pick the search term or phrase you want the post to show up for."

Simple? Perhaps. Brandon suggests using Google Keyword Planner to learn more about any potential keyword you might wish to use.

These 9 SEO Tips Are All You'll Ever Need to Rank in Google

Brandon is speaking specifically about content. Yet keywords serve a more elemental purpose. Your brand name and your product names--these are your most important keywords. Naming a brand is not an arbitrary exercise.

Imagine your ideal customers searching for your product or service. What keywords best describe your product or service? How do you want people to find you? Can you create a marketing campaign around your keywords?

These are fundamental questions for any online business. The point, of course, is to choose wisely. For today's search engines, keywords still run the show.

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If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote websites with carefully chosen keywords, we suggest contacting our sponsor, Stepman's PC: 215-900-9398 Stepmans PC combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.

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