What is keyword research and why should I bother?


The “why”of keyword research

You have a small business website for a reason, right? To attract customers and win business. But what good is a business website if no one ever sees it?

For any website to be successful it must generate traffic. There are many potential traffic sources available (email, social media, and YouTube to name a few), but only one consistently puts you in front of prospects at precisely the moment they’re looking for you: search engines.

Unfortunately, competition for search engine traffic is fierce and winning clicks is no easy feat. To succeed you’ll need strategy, patience, and a little thing we call search engine optimization (SEO).

What is a keyword?

A keyword is essentially any word or phrase you use when searching with a search engine. The search engine does its best to match your words with the words on websites. The mathematics involved are complicated (and way over my head), but the first link you see in the search results should be the best match for your keyword, followed by the second best, and so on and so forth.

What does this mean for your business?

In order for you to be deemed the best match for you customers’ keywords your website must use the same words they do. SEO involves the strategic placement of keywords throughout your website (and on external websites that link back to you). You can discover which words and phrases you should be optimizing for by conducting keyword research using a tool such as Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

Keyword research and website copywriting

As previously mentioned, search engine optimization means using specific keywords in specific places on your website. Your web developer might populate some of these for you (e.g. URLs, title tags, page descriptions, and image alt tags). But one facet of SEO that confounds many webmasters is the proper usage of keywords in website content (i.e in the text that your customers actually read).

Some writers make the mistake of overusing keywords to the point of incoherency. Others completely ignore keywords, missing an opportunity to improve their website’s search result rankings. But the Goldilocks of SEO copywriting is to use keywords as often as they make sense, and no more.

A few tips for writing with keywords:

  1. Use keywords in headlines and subheadings.
  2. Use keywords in bullet lists.
  3. It’s okay to use variations of and synonyms for your keywords.

For the the best results hire a professional SEO copywriter to write your content for you. Writers in this niche specialize in creating targeted, marketable, SEO content that is tailored to your business and your audience.



This article was written by SEO copywriter and Internet marketer Alexa Steele. Also known as The Website Wordsmith, Alexa can provide you with search engine optimized content for your website, blog, syndicated articles, landing pages, and newsletters. You can find more on SEO and Internet marketing on Alexa’s blog.

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  • I also heard from a pro in Keyword Research that location is important  as well. Google would like to see it in the first paragraph as well as the last paragraph. They also don’t like to see the word or phrase clustered in one particular area. Density should be around 3-5%. Five percent sound like an awful lot – it came from his mouth and not mine! 🙂

    If you aren’t including keywords in your blog, you are missing out on good search engine traffic! 🙂

    • Thanks Brock! I agree, adding keyword is essential, but there is a fine line, don’t overstuff or Google will penalize. I agree 3-5% keyword density sounds about right. Appreciate your feedback!

    • Alexa Steele

      Sorry to be so late in my reply, Brock.

      Be wary of using keyword density as any sort of measure for SEO. Simple keyword density is not used or measured by search engines. SEOmoz has a good article about the keyword density myth here:


  • Hi Renee & Alexa,

    Great starting point tips, thanks. Here are a few things I  have learned that have helped me land on the first page of google.Using Keywords in subheadings is good advice. You want to make sure those subheadings are set as H1,H2, &H3 tags in your post.   The variations of keywords as you put it are know as LSI keywords. Tech term is: Latent Semantic Indexing.  You can find LSI keywords when doing your keyword research in Google’s Keyword Tool.  LSI keywords are the suggested keywords you will find in the results of your search.Another important factor when putting your post together using your keyword is to be sure any photos used in the post have your keyword in their title and that you list it as Alternative Text.Long Tail Keywords are very targeted keywords, usually 3 to 5 words. When doing your keyword research, try and find Long tail keywords to use as your main keyword. They will have less searches per month, probably less competition and are more targeted.  Just these few steps will help land you on the first page of a Google search.RichardP

    • Richard, thanks for your very informative comment. Excellent advice. Blog SEO is essential. If you are taking the time to create great content, you need to do all you can to get it found by the search engines. Thanks again for the expert advice Richard!

  • Had a piece of keyword hang up with the recent changes of Google ranking.  But bottom line is the keyword factor.  Miss Renee’s information provided  are impressive I must say it’s a great help for me to continue my projects online.  

  • I just came across this article and was glad to have found such useful information about keywords. I just started blogging a few months ago and haven’t paid as much attention to keywords as much as I know I should.

    Your article and Richard’s comments have helped answer questions I had.  Thanks!

    • Thanks so much, always a great feeling when our blog posts help others. Keywords are vital and something we need to understand. Thanks again for your kind comment!

  • renu khanna

    Your article is good .It is very helpful to newbies. Definitely Google adword tool is the best tool for keyword research.here are some things in this article which helps me in keyword research

  • hi
    I am new to create website and finding keyword for my site. But  i  am confused to find out appropriate keyword. when i read your post i am little bit knowledge.   Thanks

  • eChimp Digital

    Good post. Also make sure the length of your article is sizable (minimum 500-750) words, as Google preferences this = more authority / validity