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What Are Keywords For?

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Keywords are ideas and topics that define your content. They are the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also known as "search queries." If you boil everything on your page down to simple words and phrases, those are your keywords. Think about writing an outline for a research paper, you scale back to only the most essential words. Your website owner and content creator need to make sure the keywords on your page are relevant to what people are searching for so that they are more likely to find your content.

Strategic and essential keywords are used to improve search engine rankings. During the keyword research process, keywords are chosen based on a combination of search volume, competition, and commercial intent. Your website can rank higher for terms associated with words and phrases that people search for when you optimize your content around them.

someone working on a laptop setting up keywords

On a website, keywords are terms or phrases associated with the content. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords include your primary keyword as well as the set of keywords that are logically and semantically related to it. Words are semantically associated based on their similarities in meaning.

someone using their phone to setup keywords

Google continually plays a matchmaker between items keyed in a search and a website that would best match. A website's SEO keywords are the terms and phrases people will use when searching for information on a search engine. When researching keywords for SEO, it's important to determine which words people use most often.

Don't just think about not necessarily what words you would use in a professional setting or vocabulary directly connected to your website, but instead the words that your average internet searcher would use when trying to find something connected to you.

Let’s use psychiatrists as an example. A psychiatrist works in the mental health industry and can prescribe medicine. A person may know that they need that service but not know to type in psychiatrist near me and instead keys secondary keywords like counselor or psychologist. Using those more generic words as part of your keywords will still help to drive traffic to your website. According to, understanding the importance of secondary keywords will help to keep your site higher in rankings when it comes to searchability.

Considering your website and content as objects in the everyday world simplifies the idea of keywords.

Good SEO: Focus on Keywords

  • A focus keyword or keyphrase is the search term you want a page or post to rank for most frequently. This phrase should lead people to you when they search for it. The focus keyword is a single term from the list of possible keywords for which you want your page to rank. Focus keywords are used for creating content and ranking it in Google or Bing for that keyword.

  • Focus keywords simply search terms that you want your post or page to rank for in search engines. As a result, when the audience searches in search engines for that specific phrase or keyword, they are probably going to find you.

someone using both their phone and their laptop to setup keywords

Keyword Clustering

  • In order to rank higher for your total keywords, you can use keyword clustering. The process involves identifying multiple keywords with similar search intent and creating web pages that target those "clusters."

  • Essentially, keyword clusters are searches with similar consumer intent. A keyword grouping is a group of keywords that share a common, overarching goal.

  • The practice of keyword clustering is used by search engine optimization (SEO) professionals to segment target search terms into groups (clusters) relevant to each website page. To achieve higher rankings in search engine results (SERPs), search engine professionals group keywords into small groups and spread them across pages of the website. By using keyword clustering tools, you can automate the process of clustering keywords.

Heads vs. Tail: What’s the Difference?

In order to use keywords on your website, you have two main options: head keywords, and tail keywords. Keywords can be further segmented by the fat head, chunky middle, elbow, short tail, and long tail, according to some digital marketers. While these distinctions can be useful for categorizing campaigns, they aren't all that meaningful.

A long tail keyword is one that people use to find very specific information on a topic or purchase something.

The main difference between head keywords and tail keywords

A head keyword has a high search volume and a broad, or imprecise, topical relevance. Getting a lot of traffic and being highly competitive is what makes them popular. People use tail keywords to find very specific information or products. In general, tail keywords have fewer search volumes, are longer (3-5 words), and are typically easier to rank for.

Keywords: The Wrap-up

Keywords indicate what a page's content is about in terms of ideas and topics. You can increase your chances of people finding your content by making your on-page keywords more relevant to search queries. Therefore, for SEO purposes, you should use keywords that are relevant to what people search for on Google.

If you aren't sure the website has the proper keywords in place for SEO, the team at K. Cradley and Company can audit your site and make suggestions according to the goals of your website. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with one of our team members today. You can also check out our free self-paced Winning With SEO course.

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