What Is a Keyword?


Everywhere you hear that you need the right keywords for your website you must optimise your site with keywords. I love learning all I can about the web and how it works but sometimes I wish people would bear in mind that not all of us understand the lingo of the web.

So… What is a keyword? I think it is best to focus first on why exactly it is called a ‘Key-word’ I think that explains it best. A keyword is a word or phrase that you need to include and target and it becomes the ‘key’ to ranking on the search engines for that term.

So for example if you have a website about shoes, you may decide that a keyword you wish to focus is ‘shoes’. Of course it is slightly more complicated than that but I will explain.

The world wide web consists of billions of web pages and the search engines need to know how to arrange these pages when someone searches for a term. So if someone was to search for ‘Shoes’ on a search engine the results would show sites relating to shoes.

Now a site can help inform the search engine what it is about by including the keywords that you are trying to target. Obviously just by putting shoes in your website that doesn’t mean your going to be at the top of Google by any means. You’ll be far better off doing some research into your keywords…


It is going to take some practice learning which keywords to go for and which ones will work for you, there is no set rules for keywords,… well not that I know of anyway.

A good place to start is with googles keyword tool, this is a free tool that google kindly provides which is very handy. I haven’t really mentioned this before but as the world stands at the minute Google is king. When I am building my websites I do so with one search engine in mind…Google.
I can’t remember the figure now but it is something like 80% of searches performed on the internet today is done through Google. So just focus on Google and anything else is a bonus.

Back to the research… You will need to goto: Google Keyword Tool or Just type Keyword Tool into google search bar and click on the top result. Once on the keyword tool screen which should look like this:

You will need to enter your first keyword, as we have started with shoes let’s focus on that.
So once you have entered ‘Shoes’ into the first box labelled word or phrase you will then need to click Search. At this point do not worry about the advanced features.

n.b. Your results may vary as your location is different and your search filters will be set differently.

So on a search for ‘shoes’ it has given us this result:

So as you can see the search has returned some data but what does it all mean?
Well the first bit of information it gives us is that the competition to rank for this keyword is high.
Then it gives us two figures it tells us that the global searches, so worldwide searches through Google in one month for this keyword is 68,000,000, Yep that’s right in one month people search worldwide for the search term shoes 68 million times. Next it tells us that Locally there are 9,140,000 searches for the term shoes in one month. Locally does not mean in your local town it just localises it to the country or language you have selected or is set as default. Now immediately my experience tells me that ranking in the top 10 for ‘shoes’ is going to be a near impossible task without some serious effort and resources. So “what do I do now?” I hear you ask…




I said in my experience, but that doesn’t really help you so let me explain and shed some light on this before I move on. A keyword with high competition and super high search volume is going to have some serious contenders gunning for the top position to test this theory lets just have a quick look at the top 3 positions of google for the search term ‘Shoes’.

As we can see we have the paid for results in the highlighted pink, so we ignore them we are interested in the natural or organic results below. You can see just from the URLs that there are some pretty big companies there, with well established websites. Now unless you own a large company with plenty of resources and a well established site and you just happen to be reading this then chances are your site is not going to be seeing that page. I know the truth can be brutal but luckily there is hope. This hope can be found in the form of long tail keywords.

n.b. Just to clarify I’m not saying don’t try for these high competition keywords but try and be realistic in your approach and you will see far greater results.

So long tail keywords, helping the little guys. What do I mean when I say long tail keywords well I don’t mean keywords that are very long like ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious ‘ I just mean keywords that are or have a low competition rating and have a low search volume. This doesn’t mean we are going to be searching for keywords that only get one search a month, it is just a case of finding a middle point on which we can focus. Let’s go back to our keyword tool and see what google suggests. Always a good place to start.

On our search we made previously if we scroll down we can see that the tool has already complied a list of close keywords that relate to our searched term. You can simply look through this list and see if any relate to your site and look at the results. Of course there is a much better way of doing this, Lets say for example your website concentrates of selling designer shoes, in particular shoes that are cool. You can put into your keyword tool a few of these keywords or phrases and see what results come out. It may mean that we need to just focus on a more targeted keyword. Why don’t we try cool shoes.

Immediately you can see that our competition has dropped to low but our searches per month have dropped also. Our global searches are 201,000 and local 18,100 still not searches to be sniffed at. I would consider this a far more respectable and realistic keyword to target.

You will need to play around with different keywords and see what you can come up with don’t rush into anything and remember you have to give it a chance pick a keyword and stick at it. Results won’t come over night but the hard work is well worth the effort once you start getting those top 3 positions.

Well I hope I have shed some light on this subject, I will have far more to cover on this topic. It is never as simple as just putting a keywords into your pages and getting listed there is a lot of SEO that will need to be done, To find out how to target the keywords in your pages you will need to check back soon.

That’s all for now, good luck!

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