What the Heck are Keywords?

Talk to most business owners who use a SEO company and they will know something of “keywords”. To those businesses not yet employing a SEO company, then let’s talk a little bit about what keywords are and why they are important in helping your website rank in the search engines.

The first thing is that keywords are actually usually key phrases. They are basically a search phrase that people will type into Google to find the service or product they want. It would be unusual for someone who is looking for shoes, for example, just to type into the Google search box “shoes”. Usually a person might be a little bit more specific, “trendy brown leather shoes”. As a business owner with a website, what people are searching for and the phrases or “keywords” they use are gold dust. These keywords allow you to model your pages of your website around what customers are looking for.


Let’s say someone is looking for a plumber in Glasgow. They might search in Google (or Bing) for:

“plumber Glasgow”

“Glasgow plumber”

“Glasgow plumbers”

“Glasgow plumbing company”

“recommended plumber in Glasgow”


google glasgow plumbers search


And so on. There are a number of different phrases which might get used.  In the case of a plumber in Glasgow who is trying to optimise his/her website, it would be prudent to add these keywords into their website copy. This is because the search engines will relate their website as being relevant to someone searching for a plumber in Glasgow.


Where is the keyword data?

Up until a few months ago, Google used to provide the search phrases that people used to find your website in Google Analytics (GA should be implemented to give you, as a business owner, information about your website traffic). Now Google does not provide this information anymore. It actually uses the phrase “not provided” just so you know! But you can find out or at least make assumptions using some other tools:

Google Webmaster Tools (again this should be implemented on your website). This tool has a section called “Search Queries” which provide an indication of which phrases people are searching with and how frequently that phrase is being used.


 google webmaster tools alba

Google Keyword Tool

This is usually used by people, who are setting up an AdWords campaign, but it is a free tool and it does provide approximate volumes of search queries and suggestions of other keywords that are being used.

I am talking about Google here but Bing also has similar tools which can be used in the same way.

There are also lots of keyword tools online which can help find keywords for you. Keyword research is not straightforward and it takes time to get right. As well as looking at search volumes in the Google Keyword Tool, it is wise to also look at the competitiveness of the keyword being used. Using a keyword which is really popular and is searched for loads of times may seem like a good idea, but if you are competing with big brands for the same keyword then the chances are that you will not have the same marketing budget to get onto the first page of Google. The right keyword is a combination of search volume, competitiveness and relevancy.

I hope this has helped in your understanding of what keywords are and  give me a shout   if you would like help with your keyword research.

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Caroline Phillips

Caroline Phillips is the owner of Alba SEO Services which offers quality SEO services to SME's. Established since 2013, Alba SEO has a track record of success.

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