What is a keyword anyway?
When I speak to small business owners about marketing their business online and ask, “what keywords are you targeting?” I am often met with a glazed over and shutters down look…
I’m sure that other online marketing consultants have the same response too. The word “keyword” does fall into the realm of techno-babble and unless you are in the business of online marketing, it’s likely not at the forefront of your mind.
What is a keyword?
A keyword is a word or a phrase that search engine users type into the search box to find websites. The search engine will then try to provide the most relevant results.
Now, as you can imagine there are millions upon millions of websites on the internet. The search engine results will differ from search engine to search engine, country to country, and even from person to person depending on their town or city.
Let me give you an example…
Recently, my daughter was looking at hair extensions (the joys of fashion!) and just look at the differences in results…
First, typing in the word – hairdresser – into google.co.uk when I was logged into my Google mail account. I received results for hairdressers close to me. I’m logged in so Google knows exactly where I live.
Now look at the results when I am not logged in to my Google account. The big G has decided I live just a few miles down the road and the results are significantly different.
But, my daughter isn’t just looking for a hairdresser, she wants hair extensions. Just being slightly more specific with the term she is searching for makes a huge difference in the search engine results.
Note that we still have not told Google which town or city we are looking in, the search engine has located us by:
- Our Google mail account when logged in, or
- Googles geo-targeting technology when we are not logged in
This is an important point. A mistake many local businesses make with their websites is to “keyword stuff” the targeted keyword and location into their web-copy. Not only does that make a webpage difficult to read and is totally meaningless, but it is a really old technique that can be penalised by the search engines – Google particularly.
A quick example, is copy such as “Do you need a Widnes hairdresser? We are the best hairdresser in Widnes. If you need to know more about hairdresser Widnes then call us today. Our Widnes hairdresser shop is located on the High Street in Widnes…” (and on and on for 500 words).
This outdated technique is still used by many companies that offer “optimised websites”. One that immediately springs to mind that is local to me was provided by a professional company who also own that large yellow paper directory.
Back to our hair extensions though…
Searching for – hair extensions – regardless of being logged in my gmail account or not, gave the same results. But look at the results we got…
and not logged in…
There is not a single hairdresser in our town on the first page, not even on the Google Placings results
And, the only thing that changed when the search was expanded to hair extensions widnes, was a few online directory results.
What does this mean to your local business online marketing campaign?
Knowing the types of words and phrases your target online audience use when searching the internet makes a massive difference to the success of your online marketing campaign.
Google is the most used search engine in the UK. It is used for over 80% of internet searches. Making sure that Google knows about the services you offer by claiming your Google Place and including common keywords for your industry sector in your listing can have a huge impact for your business.
Including keywords that local people use to search the internet for your services in your Google Places listing can improve your online visibility without even having a web page.
This type of searching does not work for all local businesses, and I will cover that in another post. However, the majority of local businesses from hairdressers to dog grooming, to dentists, builders, plumbers and other standard industry types ARE affected by Googles geo-targeted Places search results.
What are you going to do next?
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