Target Keywords and SEO
Target keywords are specific words and phrases that are included in web content with the objective of fulfilling the search objectives of users.
In simple terms, target keywords are the phrases that people are likely to type into search engines to find what they're looking for. E.g. SEO services near me.
Are Target Keywords Important for SEO?
When optimising your content, if you include the words and phrases that your target users are searching for, your content will have a far better chance of ranking higher in the SERPs for those particular terms - those target keywords. This means that you're in great shape to increase traffic back to your website.
Target keywords inform the search engines what your content is about, what you can offer users and also the quality or value of your content. This means that the search engines actually determine the nature of web traffic that you'll attract to on your website.
In essence, SEO is pretty much impossible without the effective use of target keywords. If there were no keywords or keyphrases on any websites on the Internet, how would you expect search engines to deliver accurate results? This seems obvious really, but writing optimised content with targeted keywords is very often overlooked, which has a huge negative impact on your SEO.
Things to consider with Target Keywords and SEO
How to Identify Target Keywords
Whether you own a global Rocket Science Academy or a local Sweet Shop, the chances are you're an expert in your field. This means that you're already in a good position to identify your target keywords and keyphrases. In the case of the Sweet Shop owner, phrases like 'Where can I buy Sweets online?' or 'Buy Sherbet Lemons online' are likely to be what your target audience are searching for - so you should use these phrases to pull in traffic to the relevant product pages.
In addition to your own expertise, have a look at what your competitors are doing. There are plenty of 'keyword research tools' available, or if that's not your bag, spend some time researching your competitors online, and have a look at what they're posting on the Social Networks (their 'Social Signals'). There's a strong chance you'll get some keyword inspiration and can go ahead and create some engaging and optimised content to further improve your position in the SERPs.
Backend and Frontend Keyword Optimisation
Backend Keyword Optimisation
In the main, this relates to the keywords that your users don't see on your actual web pages, but they do appear in the SERPs. Things like meta titles and descriptions that show on the SERPs and also the title on a web browser for a specific page. By including target keywords in your meta titles and descriptions, your effectively improving your chances of appearing for those target terms in the SERPs. For a simple explanation of how effective 'titles' and 'descriptions' can be, refer to the 'Library Analogy' on our Optimised Content page. In addition to the actual page meta data, also make use of relevant 'alt' text on images and be sure to name your links with relevant 'anchor text'. For more info on 'alt' tags and 'anchor' text, refer to our SEO and Accessibility page.
Frontend Keyword Optimisation
In addition to your well structured headings and page titles, well researched and carefully selected target keywords should be distributed throughout your page content, ensuring their placement is relevant and adds value to the surrounding content at all times. To highlight their importance, they should appear early within the relevant content sections and you can also make them 'bold'.
When adding keywords to your page content, try really hard to make sure they read naturally in the context that they are added - the better your content reads, the better your chances are to improve your SEO.
Things to avoid with Keywords
It's very bad practice and can actually harm your SEO if you add too many keywords in such a way that the content reads badly or is irrelevant. This is called 'Keyword Stuffing' and is a 'black hat technique' that's still used by many webmasters who are clearly not up to speed with the latest SEO strategies. The search engines will actively penalise keyword stuffing, which can cause a drop in your rankings in the SERPs.
Another thing to avoid is mental turmoil, you have to be realistic. Consider the local Sweet Shop owner referred to above - it's unlikely they're going to outrank companies like 'Cadbury' or 'Tesco' for target keywords like 'Cadbury Chocolate Buttons', so be sure to manage your own expectations. Not to say you can't be smart here - aim for more localised keyphrases, or add value to your offering. A keyphrase like 'Cadbury Chocolate Buttons Recipes' could work, accompanied by a recipe - and of course a link to 'Buy Cadbury Chocolate Buttons'.
Don't just focus on your 'main' target keywords. Be sure to include other keywords and keyphrases that will compliment your primary target phrases. This can actually be a very smart strategy. For example, if you optimise your content to include keywords for lesser important items, like 'washers', you may well attract some traffic for someone searching for 'washers' who will see that you also sell 'radio controlled cars' at amazing prices. There's a chance here that the 'washer' search was actually for the user's 'radio controlled car', who is now considering a new machine, not just a washer. A sprat to catch a Mackerel indeed.