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What is Search Engine Optimization? What are Keywords? Let Us Explain

On any highway in America, you’ll notice the relics of marketing campaigns past: billboards. 

Everyone from sushi restaurants to radio stations seems to be leasing space for a 10-foot by 40-foot ad. But why? If digital marketing is the only way to gain traction in the 21st century, why are billboards booming? As with anything in marketing, the answer is that they work.

But what works for sushi restaurants and radio stations may not work for modern med spas, healthcare providers, and senior living. The marketplace is crowded, and businesses without a robust digital presence can quickly fall behind.

So, what’s the latest version of the tenacious billboard? Websites, maybe? But even the best website won’t thrive without traffic–without a good spot on the highway. To catch consumers’ attention now, you need search engine optimization (SEO) keywords.

What are SEO Keywords & Why Do Businesses Need Them? – A Dapper Guide

At Dapper Market Solutions, we use the latest keyword research tools to connect browsing consumers with local and even nationwide businesses. We believe that when clients understand the practice better, they truly see the value in SEO and the keywords that enable it.

Here are just a few of the basics. Keep in mind that SEO best practices and guidelines are always changing. What’s true today may be less true (or not true) tomorrow.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

In bygone days, we used the phone book to search for local businesses and their contact information. Of course, since then, search engines like Google and Bing have taken over. 

But how do search engines produce results? If we search for “what is digital marketing” or “best restaurant near me,” how can search engines know what we want and where we are?  

For computers and phones, search engines know where we are by using our internet protocol (IP) address or our cellular data. So that’s one question solved. But to know which results are relevant to our query, search engines have to crawl (read) and store (index) the text on websites. 

By determining what words and phrases consumers are using, digital marketing agencies can craft SEO-optimized content to publish in the forms of blogs or as website pages. This increases the likelihood that your business appears when a possible customer searches for your goods or services. When it’s done well, SEO can even help you climb to the top of the search results page for superior visibility.

What are SEO Keywords?

SEO keywords can be one word, several words, or even full phrases and questions. In the digital marketing industry, we use SEO research tools to determine what your customers are searching for. These tools gather data from search engines for a targeted approach.

If you’ve returned home on a hot day to discover that it’s sweltering inside, you may search for “AC repair” or “AC repair near me.” If you’ve got a baby on the way and need more room to stretch out, you may search for “houses for sale.” In many cases, a keyword can be as simple as the name of the product: “laptops.” 

Long-Tail Keywords

Keywords can change drastically depending on the complexity of the search query (e.g., a medical question) or even the method of searching (asking a smart speaker). In some situations, searchers may use longer phrases or full questions to improve result accuracy. These are called long-tail keywords.

If you’ve been limping for two weeks or longer, you may search for, “Why does my ankle hurt when I put weight on it?” If you’re a small business looking to fill capacity and increase revenue, you may search for “What are long-tail keywords?” 

For the best visibility, SEO content writers and marketing agencies employ a mix of keywords. But if SEO is that easy, why isn’t everyone doing it? Well, as it turns out, it’s not as easy as it seems.

Keyword Properties

Because the digital marketplace is so competitive and because so many businesses write to maximize SEO, it can be hard to stand out–even with the right keywords. 

Keywords have certain properties that make them harder to rank for. They can even be used in certain circumstances more often than others (e.g. to learn about a product rather than buy one). 

Keyword Search Volume

Search volume measures the amount of queries (searches) for a given keyword over a certain time period. Depending on the SEO keyword research tool you use, you may see volume expressed as a monthly average (4,400 searches for this keyword per month, etc.). Search volume can be local (city, metro area, state) or nationwide. 

The higher the volume, the more often consumers are searching with that keyword. Search volume varies wildly by industry, product, and service. Lower volume is not always a bad thing, while higher volume is not always good. 

Keyword Difficulty

The more a keyword is searched for, the harder it becomes to use that keyword to capture potential customers. Expressed as a percentage, keyword difficulty can make or break an SEO campaign. 

A keyword difficulty of 0%  means there’s no search volume or next to none, making the keyword easy to rank for. A difficulty of 100% means that the keyword will take extensive SEO work to rank for. In some cases, keywords with a difficulty of 70% or higher may necessitate a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. 

Keyword Intent

Intent describes why a browser is using a keyword. Not every search is commercial in nature (though many are). 

Keyword intent can be:

  • Informational – The searcher wants information on a subject
  • Navigational – The searcher is trying to find a website or page
  • Commercial – The searcher is researching businesses, products, and promotions
  • Transactional – The searcher about to or intends to make a purchase

What Affects Keyword Guidelines & Best Practices?

Search engines are always trying to improve the user experience. The more accurate their results, the more likely you are to use their search engine over others. 

Software updates and innovations (like Google’s Search Generative Experience or OpenAI’s ChatGPT) and policy updates (like Google’s E-E-A-T) can fundamentally change the SEO landscape. The marketers that use SEO and the businesses that depend on it have to adapt. 

In the 21st century, SEO is a necessary part of digital marketing. But it’s precisely because of its importance that it can be difficult to predict, hard to leverage, and tricky to understand. Thankfully, you’re not alone. 

Put SEO Keywords to Work for Your Business

Hoping to capture searches for “med spa near me” in your target area? Looking to promote dignity by being the “best senior living community?” For numerous industries, an SEO strategy from Dapper Market Solutions can boost visibility, increase web traffic, and increase foot traffic. 

Partner with a digital marketing agency to understand search engine optimization and to make it work for you.

Show Up When People Search For You. Contact Dapper Today.

Billboards are still around, but they’re not right for everyone. Consumers are online now, and there’s little sign that’s going to change. To thrive in the 21st century, small and medium-sized businesses require the visibility that only SEO keywords can offer. Don’t wait until the competition launches their new website or monthly blog. Speak to Dapper Market Solutions to get and stay one step ahead.

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