Understanding keywords on Google
The success of a natural referencing strategy requires an essential prerequisite: understanding what keywords are and how to use them wisely. If you succeed, you will be guaranteed to attract qualified traffic to your website. What are keywords? Why is it so important to choose them well? What is the difficulty of a keyword? What are the differences between long tail and short tail keywords? We will try to explain everything in a simple and effective way.
What exactly are keywords on Google?
In other words, keywords are search terms targeted by a website owner or SEO professional to optimize his site. The goal is to be at the top of Google’s results for those specific keywords. Being at the top of the results means being in front of the eyes of the user who is doing the search.
Depending on your activity, you can target keywords such as: locksmith in Montpellier, online meditation courses, art courses in Nancy, pizza delivery in Paris… These examples of keywords are all potential search queries from your target, which explicitly indicate the “problems” that your company solves. In other words, they indicate the products/services or expertise you offer to users interested in your offer. And that’s not all: when users don’t know that your company exists, it’s thanks to search queries, and therefore to keywords, that they can find you online.
Google keywords: how does it work?
It is important to know that search engines do not automatically know the subject of your website. To do this, Google will “crawl” (read) your content using crawlers to index it. To better understand indexing, let’s take an example. Let’s say you run a company that makes custom garden furniture. In this case, mentioning the keyword “custom garden furniture” on your page gives context to your website. By doing so, Google will come to your site, read the content and especially record that the expression “custom garden furniture” appears on it. So when a user types in a search query for “custom garden furniture”, your site will appear in the SERPs (search results).
Obviously, things are a little more complicated than that. The keyword will have to appear in different places on the page, we explain all this on the on-site optimization. To appear on the first page of Google’s search results requires real know-how and elaborate techniques.
What is the importance of keywords?
Finding the right keywords that people are searching for is the first step in any SEO strategy. To put it simply: there is no SEO without keywords.
We can even go a step further and say that without keywords, there would be no search engines or web marketing. In addition, users would have no way to find your company online.
So you see, keywords are the essence of web marketing. When a website is at the top of the search results, keywords are a free source of traffic for it, and a qualified one at that. It is also possible to place Google “pay-per-click” ads on specific keywords, if you have enough budget. Then the question of the choice of the keywords arises. In other words, how to choose the right keywords for your SEO strategy? Don’t panic, there are several tools, tricks and techniques to find the right keywords used on Google.
Put yourself in the user’s shoes! This is the first thing to do to find the right keywords. In other words, you need to define the “Persona” of your target. To do this, ask yourself the following question: “When I want to find product or service “x”, what would I type on Google? The answer to this question will put you on the right track to find the right keywords.
Tools provided by Google such as the Search Console or the Google Adwords keyword suggestion tool can give you relevant information. You will be able to obtain statistics such as the number of times this keyword is typed each month.
Understanding the difficulty of keywords
You already know that keywords are at the heart of search engine optimization. It goes without saying that many companies target the same keywords. This results in continuous bidding for specific search queries, which makes ranking for those keywords more difficult. This is called “keyword difficulty”.
To better understand the concept, another example is in order:
Let’s say you own a cooking blog. Obviously, the most obvious keyword to rank for is “cooking” or “recipe”. With few exceptions, you won’t be able to compete with the authority domains and the giants ranking for this ultra-competitive term. It is therefore highly unlikely that you will be able to appear on the first page of Google results for this keyword. Keyword difficulty refers to the ability to rank favorably or unfavorably for a specific keyword in organic search results.
So to estimate the difficulty of a keyword we can take into account several factors. First of all the keyword itself. The more generic it is, the more likely it is to be competitive. For example, a single keyword like “cooking” will often be more competitive than a compound keyword like “cooking recipes” which will itself be more competitive than a longer keyword like “Italian cooking recipe” or “quick and easy cooking recipe”.
Then you can also use the number of indexed results to evaluate the difficulty of a keyword. For example, as shown in the screenshots below, for the keyword “cooking”, Google France has indexed 1 billion 20 million web pages that it considers to match the query. This number falls to 109 million pages for the request “recipe”. Then to 35 million 300 thousand for the request “Italian cooking recipe”. We will explain this concept a little further down in the paragraph about long tail and short tail keywords.
Be careful, however, because these numbers may seem relatively large, but it must be understood that all these pages do not necessarily correspond to the complete request. For example, in the 35 million 300 thousand pages indexed for “Italian cooking recipe”, some correspond perfectly to the full query, but others correspond to “Italian cuisine” while others correspond more to “Italian recipe”.
So to evaluate the difficulty of a keyword, the SEO will go through the results pages to see if all the results of the first pages match the typed query. Sometimes only the results of the first page answer correctly to the request. This means that by optimizing a site correctly, it can be displayed on the second page. It doesn’t matter how many results or pages are indexed for this keyword.
Then, regardless of the keyword, there is also the level of optimization of competitors that determines the difficulty of a keyword. If the competitors are poorly optimized, then the word will be easier to position. If on the other hand the competitors have worked very well on their natural referencing, the keyword, even if there are few indexed results, will be complicated to position.
How do keywords signal search intent?
Long tail keywords for better qualified traffic
The interest of long tail keywords in SEO lies in the fact that they are less competitive than short tail keywords. The former are indeed much less competitive than the latter, which naturally makes them easier to rank. They also have a higher conversion rate because they are much more specific. In fact, users who search by long phrases tend to be at a more advanced stage of the buying cycle. In other words, they are very close to making a purchase, which translates into more qualified traffic and a higher conversion rate.