How to Use Keywords Effectively to Drive Traffic to Your Website

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The internet has made it a lot easier for businesses to reach new customers. But with such a high volume of businesses online, connecting with consumers has become very competitive in and of itself. Using keywords effectively is the best way to increase the online visibility of your business’ website.

What is a keyword?

When browsing the internet, consumers frequently use search engines, such as Google and Bing, to search for and locate content.

In general, keywords are phrases that describe the product, service, or information on a website.

Searchers use keyword in their search queries to refine the search results and find the most relevant content.

As a business, you can use keywords on your website to increase your page rank. A high page rank will increase the likelihood that consumers find your website when they go searching.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of enhancing your website’s page rank. SEO is a vital part of any business’ online strategy.

What are seed keywords?

Seed keywords are the base, “ground”, or foundational keyword for your website. 

For example, let’s say your business sells video games. Your seed keyword could include “video games”, “buy video games online”, and/or “online video games store”.

You can come up with seed keyword/s on your own, or use tools to help find the best ones. Google Analytics, for example, has tools that can “crawl” through your existing site and identify seed keywords.

Why keywords are important

When used correctly, keywords will drive traffic to your website. Search engines use keywords to index your site and present your site to users that are looking for related content.

The better and more descriptive keywords that you use, the more targeted traffic you will have find your site.

Well-targeted traffic leads to qualified leads, which often convert to sales.

Short tail & longtail keywords

Short tail keywords are broad or general terms that target large groups of search engine results. 

Long-tail keywords are more narrow search terms that target a more specific set of results.

“Cars” is an example of a short tail keyword; it’s a broad term that will turn up many results.

A corresponding long-tail keyword could be “used 2014 Audi A4”, which specifies a targeted item.

Because they are more generic, short tail keywords will show up in a higher volume of searches.

A high rank on short tail keywords is desirable because your business will appear in many searches.

However, this can be difficult to achieve because there is so much competition for short tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are more specific, and typically show up when the user knows exactly what they are searching for.

There is also less competition for long-tail keywords, so you can more easily increase your page rank using them.

A higher page rank increases the likelihood that users find your site, and purchase your products or services.

A well-conceived SEO plan will include the use of both short tail and long-tail keywords on your website.

Use short-tail keywords to target broad sets of users who are searching for the general area of your business.

Use long-tail keywords to attract subsets of those users who are searching for more specific information or content.

Search intent

Search intent refers to what the user of a search engine is trying to find. Though there are more granular ways to categorize them, search queries generally fall into one of three categories.

1) Navigational: The user is using a search engine to find a specific website.

Search examples:  “espn” “wells Fargo log in” “yahoo email”

2) Informational: The user is looking to answer a question or learn about something.

Search examples: “HDTV antenna reviews” “smartphone comparisons” “how to install windows”

3) Transactional: The user is looking to purchase something.

Search examples: “insurance quotes” “buy art online” “tv discounts”

For your business’ website, you’ll naturally be most concerned with transactional searches, and searches with commercial intent.

“High intent” keywords signal a strong intention to make a purchase.

Most transactional keywords fall into the category of high intent, while navigational and informational keywords are typically considered low intent.

Some keywords, such as information-gathering keywords, can be stepping stones to transactional keywords once the user has gathered enough information.

High Commercial Intent Keywords

If you sell a service or product on your website, focus on strengthening your use of high intent keywords.

High intent keywords will vary depending on the industry, however there are certain high intent keywords that are universal.

Some examples of keywords that signal an intent to make a purchase include:

  • Buy
  • Coupon
  • Deal
  • Discount
  • Free Shipping
  • Sale

The above keywords signify that the search engine user has already decided to make a purchase. Now, they are shopping for the best deal.

Attracting a user in this category to your site results in a high probability of making a sale.

However, you might notice that each of the above keywords is most applicable when referring to a tangible product. 

For a business that sells a service instead, the word “hire” might be more applicable than “buy”.

When specific products or brands show up in search queries, this also signals a high intention to make a purchase.

Brand and product-specific keywords are very competitive, but they convert into sales at a relatively high rate.

Examples in this category include:

  • Brand names (e.g. “HP laptops”)
  • Specific products (e.g. “iPhone X”)
  • Product categories (e.g. “Steering wheel covers”, “Motor oil”)
  • Lowest Price / Cheapest
  • Comparison
  • Review

Depending on the business, some of these will be more relevant and applicable than others. However, they are all good examples of additional keywords that signify commercial intent.

Types of keywords you should avoid

There are two basic types of keywords that you should avoid using.

The first category is keywords that will hurt your business by associating your website with spam or other undesirable content.

If your content is being filtered out with spam or junk, consumers will never locate your site.

The other category of keywords to avoid are the ones that simply aren’t worth including because competition is too fierce.

Many short-tail keywords are too competitive for new sites to break into the top ten search results. Rather than using these overly general keywords, refine your long-tail keywords to drive more conversion-friendly traffic to your site.

Single-word terms, or terms that are too broad, won’t be effective in driving qualified leads to your site. On the other end of the spectrum, overly specific terms will be too rare to help your business.

A healthy balance will optimize the number of people who reach your site and then successfully make a purchase.


In summation, the trick to effective SEO is to know which keywords to use, and when. Use long-tail keywords that are highly relevant to the service or product that your business provides.

Avoid keywords that are so competitive or common that they lead to an excessive number of results.

Prioritize finding qualified leads over sheer traffic volume, and use analytics tools to build a strong SEO strategy.

If you think your business needs help in this area, find a SEO consultant to help your business grow.

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