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What are “keywords” and why do they matter?

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Keywords are the words (and most likely phrases) that people will put into Google to search for something. If you want to rank well in Google search results, you need to understand the terms people are using to find services like yours and makes sure they are congruent with the content on your website.

How to Come Up with Keywords

You need to think about what sort of thing your clients would search for to find a coach or services provider offering the services you do.
For example when I had my baby business my main keywords were:
  • baby massage nottingham
  • baby yoga nottingham
  • baby massage west bridgford
  • mum and baby classes nottingham
Theses were the low-hanging fruit if you like, the obvious types of keywords that people would use if they were looking for a baby massage class in Nottingham or had heard of my classes but didn’t know my website address. Because I’d worked these phrases naturally into my web pages in a relevant way, it meant that when people searched for them my website took up most of the listings on the first page of Google (they linked to various different pages within my site as well as my listings that I’d created on national mum and baby directories).
“Longer tail” keywords like the ones are less obvious but often sent people who weer even more ready to buy:
  • suzie urban kneads nottingham
  • dads Saturday morning baby massage class west bridgford

Long-tail keywords are often the difference between someone browsing for “womens jeans” and someone ready to buy a pair of “black boyfriend jeans size 14 long”.

Use Your Clients’ Language

You need to think about what your clients would search for to find you. Be mindful that the terms you use and associate with your business might not be what a “lay person” would use. So you might rank really well for a particular keyword that you’ve coined, but is it actually something that anyone else would use?
If you are a Love/Relationship Coach, many people might not even know there is such a thing so they are unlikely to put something like “love coach Edinburgh” into Google to find you.
However they may search for articles on a particular relationship issue. If it’s similar to blog posts you have written, then Google may point them in your direction. If you know your ideal client well, you should have some understanding as to whether they actively seek out a coach offering what you do, or if they tend to be looking generally for information and then in the process discover there is someone who can offer them a course or programme to solve the problem they have.

 Research Your Keywords

Think also of synonyms for your keywords. For example, some people may search for “business coach to women entrepreneurs” where as others would search for “business coach to female entrepreneurs”. Luckily Google has got more intelligent over the years and is starting to do a better job of natural associations like this. It makes more assumptions about similar topics than it did in the past. It’s worth bearing in mind that these alternative words or even lesser-known terms, can provide the more long-tail keywords where there is less competition.
You can use tools such as Moz keyword explorer, Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Google Trends for research.
It’s important to be realistic in which terms you could potentially dominate Google with. You might find that a large portion of people searching for information about “successful women entrepreneurs” are your ideal client. However that’s quite a broad keyword and probably dominated by big sites like Inc, Huffington Post etc.
Putting “life coach” into Google brings up 20 million results so it’s highly unlikely we will get your website to the top of Google for that keyword. However adding something like your geographical area or your area of expertise will narrow down the results giving you more chance to rank higher for these terms.

How to Use Keywords

So once you’ve identified relevant keywords, you need to make sure that you optimise your site for them, so that Google has a better understanding of your content.
Years ago, tricks like writing your keywords in white font over and over at the bottom of you homepage worked to get higher rankings. But now that Google is more intelligent, this doesn’t work (and actually has a detrimental effect of your rankings – don’t do it, kids). Now, the keywords should be used liberally but naturally, throughout your site. Imagine you were having a conversation with someone about a topic. You would use many related words and phrases to describe and discuss the subject. The copy on your site should reflect this rather than you using your full keyword phrase many times in a way that doesn’t feel natural.
However, you can use your keywords to describe things like your pictures (in the backend tags) for example so that the keywords are used many times in a way that is read by the spider bots that index your site but not human readers visiting the front-end of your website.
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