So some slick-seeming SEO person just told you that you should be optimizing your website with keywords.

Can keywords help? Yes.
Can they completely change the trajectory of your whole website? Probably not.

You know you’ve done keyword research right when:
1) The pages you optimized got more search engine traffic during the same time period (compared to pages that weren’t)
2) Overall search engine traffic to a website should increase (assuming nothing else has changed besides the keywords during the compared time periods)

A keyword (really a key phrase) is any word or words people type into a search engine (or social media website) to find websites and information. Making the words people are using to look for you match what’s on your website is the ultimate goal.
Now you can’t expect to rank for, say ‘tea’ when you are competing with national and international tea brands. What most of us small business people need to do is add some modifiers (sometimes called long tail keywords or similar) like “tea from Maine” or “tea with organic blueberries”

Now you’re in competition with other businesses who also want to rank for the same keywords, who wins? The fastest way to ‘win’ is buying an ad (but you’ll lose as soon as you stop buying the ad or someone is willing to bid more on that keyword than you are). But to win over time is to sprinkle these keywords on your website like delicious flavoring on a dish… because cramming them onto your website is something that not only Google hates but normal people trying to read your website won’t appreciate either.

Tools Mentioned (in order of least to most in-depth):
– Google Trends (to see which keywords are popular versus others, great for general trending)
– Keywords Everywhere (a paid tool that lets you save searches, compare yourself to the competition websites, etc.)
– Keyword Discovery (a paid tool with a free trial for in-depth keyword research, adding some contextual markers (ex: showing ‘gulf stream’ was a popular keyword associated with ‘camping’ and ‘RV’ versus the ocean)

So whether you want to explore keyword research yourself or hire us to do it, it’s worth taking some time to think about the words on your site. Because words do matter, to people and to search. But they are just one of many factors that go into a successful website. (if you’re curious about all the on-page SEO factors here’s a Moz article for your informational pleasure.)

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