What are keywords?
As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard of the term “keywords” regarding digital marketing. But what are they? In this short blog, we’ll discuss what keywords are and how they can benefit your business. For additional information on how to add keywords to your Google Business Profile, check out RiZen Metric’s blog, “How to Use Keywords to Make Your Business Visible on Google Business Profile .”
When speaking in terms of Google, keywords are a word, a string of words, phrase, or question entered into a search engine and has a results page where related websites, businesses, and ads are listed. Google can yield results based on what you’re looking for and provide you with the most relevant and up-to-date information.
In terms of businesses optimizing their Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly Google My Business, to make sure their content is first to rank, keywords are the first step.
Google wants to understand your business- what services you offer, where you’re located, how well your business is reviewed, etc. Even more importantly, they want to ensure that customers looking for your product or service are shown your information.
Using Keywords for SEO vs. PPC
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. Keyword research and using keywords are one of the most important components of SEO, allowing you to expand your business visibility on Google without having to pay for ads, and ranking organically.
Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, allows your business to pay to target a specific audience through a keyword. However, you only pay for the ad when someone clicks on it, and there may be other competitors competing to win your spot for the ad. For example, if you search “banks near me” or any type of business, you’ll likely see “Ad” followed by a local business at the top (and sometimes bottom) of the SERP, or search engine results page.
Google has an excellent in-depth comparison of SEO & PPC.
Short-tail keywords vs. Long-tail keywords
Take these two very different search phrases: Search in Google, “Mechanics in Scranton,” or “why is my car not starting.”
For each phrase, Google will produce a page of results. The main difference between them is that the “in Scranton” phrase will garner local results specific to Scranton or Scranton area, while the latter term will show you information about why your car is not starting.
Both of these search terms are considered “long-tail keywords” and often serve more of a specific purpose, allowing you to target demographics. The “seed” keyword(s) within the term are more general. Those words searched on their own would be “short tail keywords.” Ultimately, if a user is searching either of those phrases, they’re likely in need of a mechanic. You might even find that a local mechanic wrote a blog post about why your car isn’t starting so that they get free business exposure which might create leads or new customers.
Long-tail keywords are inherently less competitive, as they are more specific, and fewer people are likely to search for them than the seed keyword. Often these phrases or questions have a specific intent, meaning if someone is searching for “mechanics in Scranton,” you know exactly what they’re looking for.
If someone were to simply search the keyword “mechanics,” there are endless possibilities on what results they might be aiming to see. Maybe they want to know what a mechanic does, how to become one, how to find one, etc.
Local SEO vs. SEO
Using the example from above, you can see that “Mechanics in Scranton” is utilizing local SEO, while “Why isn’t my car starting” is organic SEO or even national SEO.
By using local keywords, you’re able to bring your business traffic from people in or around your area. Local SEO is less competitive, considering that there are fewer businesses or content creators in your area that are attempting to rank for your keyword.
Organic SEO is much harder to rank for or show up on the first page or two of the SERP. This is because of the sheer volume of people competing for the keyword, with high-authority, well-known businesses often coming in first place. It does not target a specific area and often will show results for the entire country or even internationally.
Ranking on the SERP wth Local SEO
However… just because it is more difficult to rank for than local SEO doesn’t make it impossible. By using long-tail keywords, your likelihood of ranking is much higher as long as the content provided is relevant and directly related to the phrase.
Google uses local SEO to show potential customers businesses near them.
What type of search engine optimization you choose to use (if not both) is entirely dependent upon your business’s goals. If you own a local brick-and-mortar restaurant, targeting all of the country will likely not be beneficial for your business or making sales.
If you own, for example, a jewelry store that also sells their products online, using a combination of both SEO & local SEO may be beneficial to you.
Your Pocket Dictionary to Understanding Keywords
- Keywords are a word, phrase, a string of words, or a question that is typed into a search engine to yield a set of specific results. When targeted, they will match your business or content to people searching for the keyword.
- SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing or making your website or content better for search engines, such as Google.
- SERP or Search Engine Results Page is the webpage that pops up with a list of related results when you search a keyword into a search engine.
- PPC or Pay-Per-Click Advertising are paid ads that businesses use to compete with both competitors’ ads and organic search results for a specific keyword. Companies only pay for the ad when a user clicks on it. You can see these ads often at the top of the SERP. Competitors will bid for the top spot, meaning your ad won’t necessarily show if you get outbid.
- Long-tail keywords are a phrase, group of words or a question, often about 3-5 words in length that garners more specific search results and are less competitive with lower search volumes. They contain a seed keyword, which would have more competition to rank for.
- Short-tail keywords are 1-2 words that are often broad and lack intent, meaning that they won’t tell Google exactly what the user is searching for. They have high search volumes and are competitive.
- Seed keywords are short-tail keywords that are found within your long-tail keyword. They often determine the overarching category of what you’re trying to search for.
- Local SEO targets a specific city, town, region, or state. Local SEO intends to match users searching for a keyword to local businesses and services based on their location.
- National SEO targets an entire country or broad region and is very competitive. High authority companies and websites often dominate the SERP.
- Organic SEO is the process of increasing your site traffic and web authority through unpaid, organic keywords. Organic SEO does not target a specific area.
Using keywords to target potential customers to your business is an excellent way to ensure that the right people see your company on the SERP. Keywords can be utilized in various ways depending on what you need. So try your hand at optimizing your Google Business Profile’s local listing today!
RiZen Metrics is a full-service digital marketing agency in Scranton, PA with hubs in Philadelphia and NYC. If you’re interested in optimizing your Google Business Profile, we have a team of highly skilled and experienced employees who can help with GBP management. Contact us today!