What Are Keywords and Where Do I Use Them?
As a business owner you have a lot going on, and a lot to keep track of. On top of payroll, scheduling, ordering, website stuff, family, friends, on and on, it’s easy to dismiss a lot of the digital jargon that gets thrown around.
And we totally get that.
A big one when it comes to jargon and confusion is keywords and search engine optimization (doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue either, does it?).
In terms of this blog, we’re going to set aside SEO (ah, much easier to pronounce). If you want more on SEO, check out this blog.
For now, just know in the back of your mind, that keywords are search engine optimization tools.
Today we’re talking just about keywords and where they can be used.
And what if we told you that all you have to do is tweak what you’re already doing?
Do you write product descriptions and other text on your website?
All that needs is a little tweak, or a little more intention.
Do you post on social media using captions and hashtags?
All we have to do is add a little more intention.
Do you add photos to your website, of what you do, or what you sell?
Again, it’s just about refining this process a little bit.
So What are Keywords in SEO?
Keywords are just words. There is no special link involved, no wizardry or magic spells of any kind. Keywords are words. But they are words with intention. That’s the only difference.
This whole page is full of keywords, done with purpose.
If you’re writing a description of coffee on your website, naturally you will mention coffee a few times. Keywords are about making sure you use the word coffee, but also thinking about what other words and phrases you could use in addition to coffee.
For instance, you might refer to it as a cup of joe, or java, or talk about the coffee beans.
A regular, non-keyword, non-intentional description might say:
“Here is our newest bold blend, sourced locally and environmentally.”
A keyword-rich description might say:
“Have you tried our latest coffee blend? This bold java will be the perfect jumpstart to your morning. The coffee beans are brewed locally using solar energy and we think it adds necessary warmth to your cup of joe! Available by the cup, or ground coffee so you can brew it at home in your favourite coffee mug.”
What’s the first thing you’ve noticed?
You’re probably thinking, “wow, that’s a lot of words.”
It is wordier. But for good reason.
Notice how many different ways we said, “coffee?”
Or how many different phrases we used and words related to our favourite beverage?
Not only does this make it more interesting than saying, “coffee, coffee, coffee,” but it also gives search engines (like Google) more information.
Think of the descriptions as though they are painting a picture. That’s what you’re doing when you write descriptions on your website and in captions, you’re painting a picture for Google (or Yahoo! or Bing, etc.) to help them understand what the page is about.
The more information you give, the clearer the picture becomes.
That’s what keywords do for your website and social media accounts. They help paint a full, clear, detailed picture for search engines, so that when someone searches, “coffee near me,” Google knows without a doubt that this page on your website is definitely about coffee. Therefore it can confidently offer your page in the search results.
Search engines are like that awesome retail worker who greets you at the door, asks you what you’re looking for, and immediately takes you right to exactly what you wanted.
If you want Google to take someone right to your website, you have to equip it with information, just like you train your employees (and yourself) on the details of what’s available in your store.
Where Do I Use Keywords?
We briefly went over the example of product descriptions. It’s important to write your own descriptions rather than copying it from someone else if they’re selling the same thing. You can take it as inspiration, but word it differently.
Your product or service descriptions are the most common place that people think of, and the one that you maybe already knew.
There are several places where keywords come in handy.
Think about all the places that you have text on your website. Maybe you have a paragraph or two describing your business.
This would be a great place to use keywords.
Do you have an “About Me” page? This is another place that’s great to use words and phrases that are related to your business and your industry.
Can keywords be two words?
These are called long tail keywords, and without getting too technical, they are easier to rank for. This means that by using phrases, sentences and questions related to your business/topic, you can start to appear higher in the search results pages.
Long tail keywords happen naturally in longer forms of text.
This brings us to our next two places where keywords can be used, which cover both ends of the spectrum for long and short text.
Keywords Should Appear in Page Headings
Let’s go back to selling coffee (it is, after all, one of our very favourite things).
Say you’ve got that new product page featuring your newest blend (you know, that one that’s ethically and locally sourced?).
The new blend is called, “Cat’s Cove.” (gee, what a great name, eh?) So that’s what the heading on the page says. Cat’s Cove. That’s it.
What does that tell search engines like Google? What does that tell your customers?
Nothing. It tells them nothing.
There are no coffee-related keywords in there to let the search engines know that this page is about coffee. So it won’t show up as a search result if someone searches coffee.
However, if we use a heading like, “Cat’s Cove Solar-Roasted Coffee Blend,” it’s longer, but it has the word coffee and two words that are closely related (roasted and blend).
Headers are good places to use keywords, especially since you probably have one on every page of your website. This goes for your e-commerce products as well.
(Don’t forget subheadings, too, they are just as important)
Blogs are Keyword-Rich
Think of how much text is in a blog (think of how much text is in this blog.)
Yours doesn’t have to be this long, but think of the picture you could paint for Google (and your audience) with all the words in a blog.
You could write about the origins of coffee, your origins with coffee, the different types of coffee. You can share your love, your passion, your knowledge, and they are packed with keywords and phrases.
We think that’s a win-win.
Blogs are the perfect place to plug in those long tail keywords, otherwise known as phrases that are related to your topic, rather than just a single word.
Don’t have a blog? You may want to start one.
Keywords and Images
So you’re about to upload an image onto your website. But wait!
Did you know that search engines actually “read” the file name? Your image’s file name gives information to Google (or not).
If you upload an image file named, “img_9429.jpg,” no information is there that search engines can use to categorize the photo.
Instead (going back to our coffee example), change your file name to something that describes the image, using words that people might use to search.
Change the file name before you upload the photo and this gives Google more information, through keywords, to understand what your website page is about.
The more Google understands what your individual pages are about, the more it will understand what your whole website is about, allowing Google to have it show up in front of the right people in the search results.
Keywords in Alt Text for Images
Whenever you upload a photo to your website you have the opportunity to add Alt Text. This is primarily a text description of the photo to provide an alternate way of “seeing” the photo for those who are visually impaired.
However, this is also a spot where you’re giving information to search engines. You’re giving information to people who have difficulty seeing, as well as Google, which doesn’t know what is in your image unless you tell it.
Use your alt text photo description to add in those key words that are related to your image, the page it’s on and the topic.
You can also use alt text for images that you post on Instagram. Just tap “Advanced Settings.”
Keywords in Social Media?
Here are three places you are already using keywords in social media, and when you know, you can be a bit more intentional with the words that you choose, so you’re making the most of each platform and the keywords.
Keywords in Captions
This is the most logical place where you can use keywords and also phrases (aka long-tail keywords). On all platforms the algorithm scans the text and uses the words and context to categorize your post and decide who they should put it in front of.
This is especially true for TikTok and all the organic reach you get from the For You page, where it’s seen by people who aren’t following you.
So if you write a caption describing your newest coffee blend, the social media platform, whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, etc, might say, “hey, Cat’s Cove likes a lot of coffee-related posts. Let’s put this in front of them in their Newsfeed.”
Closed Captioning Keywords
This is specifically for the social media platforms that provide auto-generated captions, like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram.
It’s information that the apps can read and pull out keywords to further categorize your video and find the right audience.
This just means that when you're creating your video, be intentional about the words you're using and make sure to use words and questions related to your topic.
Hashtags are Keywords
Hashtags are a great way to use keywords to give social media platforms information about and context for your post.
It’s something that most people don’t actually read, so there’s no need to be funny and cute with super long hashtags that take you forever to spell properly (and let’s be honest, we all struggle to read them and often see words that likely weren’t intended.. #catscovesexamplesmakesense).
So use your hashtags as keywords that categorize your video, your brand, location and your industry.
Now that you know a lot more about keywords, where are you going to start?
What’s your next social media post? Start there with all the options above concerning social media.
Next, start with just your “About” page on your website and see if you can focus the information a little more to concentrate on your business, brand and industry-related words.
Just remember, in all your text that’s ultimately going to be read by a human, not just Google, make it readable first, keyword-rich second.
Lastly, we aren't saying that if you do a few of these things you will be ranked number one in search engine results. This is a process. These are steps that you integrate into what you're already doing which will lead to long-term gain.