Keywords could refer to single words or long phrases that Internet users type into search engines to find information on a particular subject matter. Using keywords in web page text is common practice in the world of search engine optimization (“SEO”) since it helps a website rank at the top of Google’s search engine result pages (“SERPs”) for a particular keyword.

Why Keywords are Important

Keywords are the building blocks of SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns.

The ability to rank at the top of the SERPs for a target keyword can result in a rush of high-quality, targeted traffic to your website.

Furthermore, if you have an ad budget, you can use PPC to have your site appear above the organic results. This is how Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) work — marketers place bids to have their ads appear at the top of SERPs for specific keywords.

Generally, keywords indicating someone is ready to buy are likely solid candidates for a PPC campaign.

Consider the following scenario. Assume you are in charge of marketing for a shoe store. For example, the keyword “Converse sneakers on sale” is something someone who is a little farther along in the buying cycle might search for.

On the other hand, a keyword such as “best sneakers” is for someone who is a bit earlier on the buying cycle and may be researching what type of sneakers to buy.

Qualities of a Keyword

When conducting keyword research, what are some of the qualities you should consider? The following are the essential qualities of a keyword:

Search Volume

The number of times a search query is searched for on Google each month is referred to as the search volume. This metric matters because it allows you to predict how much potential traffic you could receive if your website were to rank for a specific keyword in SERPs.

You can increase the number of visitors to your website by investing in keywords that receive a high search volume. However, such keywords also tend to be more competitive and difficult to rank for. Sometimes, pursuing long-tail keywords or those with lower traffic numbers makes more sense since competition is generally lower.


Regardless of a keyword’s search volume, tracking how well it performs compared to its competitors is crucial. The more popular (and thus, competitive) a keyword is, the more likely it is that plenty of websites are already competing for the top spot.


Every keyword has a cost per click (CPC) — it tells you how much it costs every time a user clicks on your ad after searching for your targeted keyword.

When designing an ad campaign, it is vital to consider the CPCs of your target keywords to estimate the cost of the campaign accurately.

You should also consider CPC when choosing your SEO keywords. Though SEO traffic is free, CPC provides a general indication of how much competition there is for that keyword.


Sometimes, keywords include geographic location information, such as city, county, etc. Localized keywords like this are critical for local businesses seeking to target customers within their service area. So, for example, the shoe store in Santa Rosa would be able to increase its possible position in the SERP by using a keyphrase such as “shoe store Santa Rosa.”

Word Count

A laptop featuring the keyword "seo" for beginners in Digital Marketing.

The number of words that make up a single keyword is referred to as the word count. Consider the following example — the keyword “loans” has a word count of one, whereas the phrase “loans for first-time homebuyers” has a word count of four.

When looking for the right keywords, the search volume and competitiveness of the keyword are generally more important considerations than its word count.

However, word count can still be a valuable tool for narrowing your search. Why? Simple — the bigger the word count, the more specific the keyword.

In most cases, the competition for a long-tail keyword is relatively low, and the searcher is generally closer to making a purchase decision.

Keyword Best Practices

The following are some best practices to bear in mind when optimizing your content for certain keywords:

  • Avoid spamming the content with too many keywords.
  • Use keywords naturally.
  • Newer sites, or those with lower marketing budgets, may be better targeting long-tail keywords with relatively low competition.
  • Learn how to position your keywords in the content strategically. For example, when you include keywords in your page titles, title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, and headers, your content will perform better in SERPs.

Need help with keywords or want keyword research done for your business website? We provide SEO and PPC digital marketing services. Both types of campaigns begin with keyword research. Contact us with questions or to obtain a proposal.