What is SEO?

07 Dec, 2021

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What exactly is SEO, what are keywords, what should you pay attention to when choosing keywords?

In this article we would like to give you an insight into the topic of SEO and why it is so important to work on it, especially nowadays in today’s digital world.

We will put a special focus on the topic of keywords and their importance for SEO, discuss the difference between suitable and unsuitable keywords and examine what’s best to focus on at the beginning of your SEO journey.

First, it is important to understand that the creation of a website alone is not enough to be easily found in search engines and to achieve top rankings on those!

Let's start off simple: What are search engines?

Search engines are sites where you can enter a combination of words to find information. The best-known search engine is Google. Please also note that search engine optimization can be a misleading term because your main focus should be on optimizing your website for visitors and not for search engines!

Google and search behavior

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Google visits websites at regular intervals and scans them for many factors! By now, it is also very good at measuring how users interact with a particular search result. Clicking behavior, duration of stay, and other search behaviors are now all analyzed and, finally, allow Google to draw conclusions that are almost impossible to manipulate. So, what we can take away from this is, users have the most influence on what websites receive the best rankings. A website that is at the top of the search results will only remain there if users support this with their behavior. Thus, if the user leaves the website quickly, this website can lose relevance. So it is important not to work towards short-term success, but to keep users satisfied in the long run!

So, now that we know that websites are visited by Google at regular intervals and are scanned for many criteria, you can, in turn, take advantage of the fact that many of those criteria are public.

 

What are keywords and why are they important?

Say you own a small bakery specializing in cupcakes and other pastries that customers can order for special occasions like birthdays, weddings, baptisms, and so on. How do you think you could most easily acquire new customers? As we know, many people looking for specific products in this day and age start their search by going to Google.

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Those special occasions mentioned above, like birthdays, weddings, etc. are so-called keywords. You can use them on your website to promote your products. So, keywords are basically words or word combinations, that people type into search engines to look for certain information or products. Optimizing your website for specific search terms is a crucial part of your SEO strategy because it gives you control over whom you can reach online. Picking keywords is not an exact science, you might have to make adjustments from time to time. It is extremely important to know what your potential customers are looking for. Just guessing terms is not the correct approach. It is much more efficient to try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about what they might type into Google when looking for a special cake for a loved one’s birthday. It is also crucial to know which keywords might be used by a high number of potential customers. To rank high with a keyword is great, but of no use, if no one really enters it in Google.

 

But what exactly does “ranking” mean?

Ranking means the visibility or position of websites on Google. There are different factors for rankings, such as on-page and off-page factors. Here, we will focus mainly on on-page factors. The off-page factors will be discussed in a later article. On-page factors are directly related to your domain, meaning they are influenced by the work you do directly on your website! 

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This means changes on your website, e.g. through technical work or optimization of your content is called on-page-SEO. This topic is very broad, so for now we will focus on the first steps that need to be taken when doing SEO! It is important to know that search engines consider text (i.e. the content) on websites as particularly relevant and important to their ranking. Text in this instance includes all readable text, headlines, metadata, images, and above all the correct use of keywords. So back to them! When choosing keywords you have to make sure that you not only find particularly fitting keywords but also that they have a good search volume (this is defined as the average number of search queries over a certain period of time). There are many tools that can help you with this task, among them is rankingCoach. A Keyword Tool is a database that provides information about keywords and how often they are entered into search engines.

 

How do I know what keywords are best for me?

First of all, do not use your company name as a keyword, since in many cases the company name is not well known yet, so it is unlikely that someone will enter it into a search engine! Instead, try to find precisely defined keywords that match your products or services! We can illustrate the correct use of keywords once again with the bakery example.

You might think of using the keyword “cake”. 

This, however, would be a bad choice because the word “cake” is far too generic! If you own a bakery in Cologne “Cupcakes in Cologne”, for example, would be a far more specific and thus a more successful keyword. What we can take away from this is that ranking with a generic keyword such as “cake” (which is highly popular) would be very hard or take a very long time. The single keyword “cake” is also called a short-head keyword, while “cupcakes in Cologne” would be a long-tail keyword! Why is that important to know? Many SEO beginners might mistakenly think that a keyword with the highest search volume, might do the trick and therefore constitutes the best choice. What is actually better, however, is to combine several long-tail keywords, like “cupcakes in Cologne”. Those keywords might, at first glance, have a lower search volume than, e.g. the word “cake”, but can potentially lead to a higher search volume (and thus a higher ranking) when used in conjunction with other long-tail keywords, since they give a more detailed view of what products and services your company actually offers to customers. 

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This is made possible by the lack of competition around those types of (longer) keywords! For some small niche branches, the use of long-tail keywords might even present a chance to rank high in a very short time frame! This is made possible by the lack of competition  

 

Now that you know what keywords are: What do you do with them?

Now that you understand what keywords are, you need to start working with them! We will try to explain exactly how you can do that. Let’s start off by giving you an idea about where to enter your keywords. This question is tricky because there are many areas where you should work with keywords in addition to your website, like social media and Google Ads. For now, though, we will focus on your website and address the subject of “Social Media, Google Ads, and keywords” a little later.

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A good starting point is working on the meta tags of your website! What we mean by that is that you integrate your chosen keywords into your meta-title, meta-description, headlines, etc. Meta-Tags are stored in the head section of your HTML and provide information about your website to search engines. They are not visible on your website and instead are only displayed in Google search results.

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You should also work on your domain name. Here is an example of a domain name

Working on your website’s title and meta-description is a crucial part of your homepage optimization process. In a later article, we’re going to take a look at those elements and how to work on them.

Another direct on-page area that concerns keywords are internal links within your website that redirect your users directly to a subpage of a product or service.

All the steps listed above are of course set as targets by rankingCoach and our application explains in detail how these tasks can be completed. For more information, click here.

 

Keyword stuffing

The last important topic we’d like to discuss with you is the problem of keyword stuffing. By now you’ve probably read so much about keywords that you’re probably thinking: “The more keywords I use on my site, the better for my ranking!” Unfortunately, this is not always the case and with keywords, as with a lot of things in life, less can be more!

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Don’t get us wrong: Keywords should definitely be integrated into your website, but make sure not to overdo it, since keyword stuffing can be very counterproductive! Google might even penalize this strategy, which means that you could be given a bad ranking for the excessive use of keywords.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, we want to help you understand where to put your focus, when you start creating and optimizing your website. As a general rule, you should try and keep the users and their needs in mind by creating an interesting and easy-to-navigate website, rather than focusing only on “pleasing” search engines. Furthermore, while working on your website you should put the emphasis on creating real value for your potential customers instead of just trying to sell them a product.

In the next article, we will cover the topic of Local SEO and why SMEs should focus on a perfect Local SEO strategy.

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