Are Keywords Important for a Small Business Website?

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Why Do Keywords Matter To Customers & Google?

If you’ve looked into search engine optimization (SEO) for your website, you’ve probably seen plenty of discussion about keywords. Keywords are specific terms that matter for your website. For example, a plumbing company would probably want to identify keywords such as plumbing, irrigation, plumber, unclog, etc. These can be (and are usually) phrases of two or three words, and they capture the journalistic Five W’s of your site: Who, What, Where, When, Why. They also can answer: Who are you? What do you do? Where are you located? When can you perform a service or deliver a product? Why are you better than the competition?

In short, you need keywords when crafting your code and content. So tread carefully when creating your keyword strategy; here’s a closer look why they’re so important.

Keywords Get You On Google

keywords-and-seoSince the birth of the search engine, keywords have been and continue to be one of the pillars of optimization. From a practical perspective, search engine optimization is more than just a marketing strategy. Google (and other search engines) see it as giving users what they are looking for. That’s why search engine algorithms focus so heavily on keywords in content; because if keywords describe specifically what you do, then it makes sense to connect users to it.

Keywords Identify What You Do

Sometimes, your product or service is in your company name. And other times, it’s not — it’s a more generic term, or your brand doesn’t incorporate those types of specifics. Having keywords helps immediately communicate what you do to someone who is searching. In addition, it helps you identify differentiators for your competition. For example, let’s say you’re in pest control and you specialize in capture-and-release methods for rodents but you don’t do insect infestations. You’ll want your keywords to specify the different types of rodents you handle, and you’ll also want to use terminology that reflects capture-and-release, such as “no kill” and “humane treatment.” That way, all of these details will be indexed on search engines properly, so people who want your exact services will be pointed directly to you.

Keywords Identify Where You Are

searching-onlineFor small businesses that attract local customers (e.g. plumbers, restaurants, car repair, etc.), geographic keywords can literally mean the difference between showing up on the first page of Google results and not showing up at all. When people go to a search engine in need of a local service, they will often use a city name in the search. That’s why specificity in keywords on your site makes a big difference, and it’s important to target more than just the nearest major metro market. Think of all of the ways people can find you — major metro name (Bay Area), major city name (San Francisco), county names, or names of smaller cities. All of these are viable methods of searching for professional information, and the good news is that you can target all of them simply by having enough pages of content to support it. So if your business lives on local customers, make sure you make yourself visible to each and every target city.

But Keywords Aren’t Everything

Keywords are absolutely important, but they’re not the end-all to SEO. Other avenues, such as backlinks and social media presence, are important to search engine algorithms. Similarly, algorithms have evolved to a point where they can recognize keyword stuffing, so keywords have to be used naturally; any artificial inflation will be flagged and disqualified.

Finally, remember that the end user here is a potential customer, not Google. That means that your message will be read by a human being rather than an algorithm, so your content — complete with keywords — has to be professional, clean, and effective. Thus, getting keywords into finely crafted content can be a bit of an art form and should not be attempted rashly. Otherwise, you might do more harm than good for your website.


By Marc Apple

Marc Apple is recognized as a leader in the marketing industry and has 20+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their digital marketing. He specializes in website design, SEO, social media, and paid search programs. He is a frequent contributor to other marketing websites and speaks regularly about marketing to small business owners and startups. To learn about Marc and to contact him, visit his author bio page.


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