So what are keywords and why are they important?

Keywords are the ideas and topics that define what your content is about. In terms of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), they’re the words and phrases that people enter into search engines to find what they are looking for.

Google crawls the words on your site and indexes them so that when people search for words and phrases associated with your business they find you.

They are essential to people finding you on Google

How do you identify your own keywords?

Quite honestly – common sense is a pretty good way to start. You know your own business so start by brainstorming a list of topics.  Think about what areas do people search for that are related to your business. Bear in mind that these topics aren’t keywords. They’re broad topics that you’ll ultimately use to drill down to specific keywords. Add in locations too if this is important to you.

Do a google search for the topics and make a note of what comes up in the drop down search box. This is particularly useful because if Google suggests a keyword or phrase, you know that people are searching for it.

Another good way to find keywords is to check out the “Searches Related to” section at the bottom of Google’s search results.

Compile this list and then take a look at your competitors and other businesses in a similar field. See what their headings and subheadings are on their websites, look at what they are blogging about. Compare this to your existing list and refine accordingly.

Synonyms are really important too. Think of different ways of saying the same thing for example hotel could also be accommodation, B&B, country inn, motel, guest house, resort.

If you have Google analytics and Google search console – take a look and this will list what queries people used to find you.

How do you pick the right keywords?

So you have your list of topics and have used these heading to compile a list of keywords. No doubt this list is probably quite extensive, how do you decide which are the best keywords to use on your website? Ultimately this comes down to a bit of trial and error but there are ways of making a best estimate as to which ones should work best for you. You can try these first, monitor progress and refine accordingly.

Choose the ones that are the best match to your business and that describe your services and then check their search volumes and cost per click (this is what it would cost to use this keyword in an ad campaign). If your website is new try and use long tail keywords – these are 4+ word phrases and are usually less competitive so easier to rank for.

Free tools to help you identify search volumes and cost per click include:


Ubersuggest generates keyword ideas from Google’s search suggestions and gives you data on each keyword (like search volume, CPC, keyword difficulty and more).


This is a free tool for discovering and exporting new keywords and search volumes to help you identify the best keywords. There is a paid version that gives you lots more data but the free one is a great place to start.

Google Keyword Planner

This is designed for planning an ad word campaigns but is still a really useful tool for keywords principally because the data comes direct from Google. You need to have a Google ad word account and enter your credit card details but you don’t need to spend anything. You can find keyword ideas and search queries that get lots of searches. Here is a guide to using Google Keyword planner

What do you do with your keywords?

When you have decided on your key words what is the best way to incorporate them into your website? Google plays most attention to page headers and subheads, the H1 and H2 tags, so make sure they appear there.

And then weave them into your content in a readable and engaging way. A word of warning – make sure the keywords are not included at the expense of your content. There is a balance to be struck between the visitor and the search engines. Good readable content will win out every time over stilted copy that is stuffed full of keywords. Plus Google has now got really smart at recognising overly engineered content.

Most importantly make sure that company name and what you do is mentioned very clearly in your content. It sounds obvious but if you’re a website designer, make sure you mention “website design” not just “websites”. Yep that was me…

Finally it is important to add…

The objective of this blog is to provide a starting point for small businesses who want understand more about keywords and how they can help their business to get higher up the search rankings. There are loads of more details out there if you want to delve deeper into the subject. Google itself provides a complete “how to” guide to finding and using keywords.

These are the sources I found helpful and they provide loads more detail: