Do Keywords Matter for SEO?
Before we get too far into how keywords affect SEO, it important that we discuss the differences in terminology that may cause some confusion.
Meta Keywords have been around since the beginning of Search Engine Optimization. Anyone who has done anything on a website has seen somewhere that they could enter Meta Keywords. In some instances they were referred to as “SEO Keywords” or something similar. As a general rule, this would be where you would enter a variety of words or phrases that you wanted your page or post to be found by; and they would be separated by commas. Many novices are under the impression that this is what it takes to have your website rank in search engine results. Truth is, Meta Keywords have not been used in the Google Algorithm for a long time.
Keywords On A Page
Keywords on a page of a website page or post are quite a different thing. Simply stated, what we are referring to here are the words on the page. Once again, the SEO novice may think that if they repeat a specific word or phrase over and over within a website, this will help their SEO efforts. Similar to Meta Keywords, this did have some benefit at one point in time, but can actually hurt your SEO by today’s standards.
Similarities Between The Two
There are some similarities between Meta Keywords and the words on a webpage. In today’s complex world of SEO, either of these can actually HURT your SEO. Excessive use of any specific set of words, whether they be on the page as “meta keywords” or simply repeated over and over within the copy, can cause a Google penalty for Keyword Stuffing.
When trying to rank a website, it’s extremely important to understand what Google business goals are. Google wants to provide the best experience for their customer. Who is Google’s customer? That would be anyone using Google for search. They want to provide the best, most relevant results for any particular search so people continue to use their Search Engine as opposed to Bing, Yahoo or any newcomer to the field. Because their goal is to provide the most relevant results to a search query, if you try to “trick Google” or “game the system” by keyword stuffing, (or any other trick) you will find that not only do you not rank well, but you may find yourself totally blackballed by the largest search engine in the world.
How To Avoid A Google Penalty
First of all, when writing for your website, DON’T write for SEO. That means don’t make any effort to repeat words or phrases, simply write in the way that makes the most sense for the reader. In addition to simply writing for the benefit of the reader, another thing that you should do to avoid getting “dinged” for
keyword stuffing is check your keyword density. This is easily done with a Extension for your Chrome browser. Although there are many to choose from, we recommend SEO Quake for its simplicity. Although if you were to ask 10 SEO Guru’s about keyword density, you would get 10 different answers, for the sake of keyword stuffing, you would like to keep the density of any keyword or phrase below 4%.
Proper Use Of Keywords
There is a proper way to utilize keywords. To effectively rank a webpage you will want to utilize keywords in the following places:
- Meta Title of your page or blog
- H1 Header
- Rewording in the H2 and possibly H3 Header
- Meta Description of your page or blog
In addition, you will want to uselatent semantic keywords within your copy to insure that search engines know what your page is about. Without getting too deep, latent semantic keywords are similar words or phrases that ultimately mean the same thing. Modern search engines are smart enough to understand that if you use the word “Home”, you may very well use the terms “House” or “Property” or even “Abode”.
Keywords For Real Estate Websites
SEO for Real Estate has some unique challenges when it comes to keywords. In the ultra competitive vertical of online real estate, everyone in the same city is attempting to rank for the same real estate keywords. Most real estate websites focus on:
- *city* homes for sale
- *city state abr* homes for sale
- homes for sale *city*
- homes for sale in *city*
- homes for sale *city state abr*3
Because of the intense competition in the online real estate vertical from the large real estate websites such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com or Homes.com – you may find that your efforts are best spent attempting to rank for Long Tail Keywords. Long Tail Keywords are a set of keywords which are longer and much more specific. An example of a long tail keyword for real estate may be:
These types of searches do not get as much traffic, but generally are much more specific. In some instances, because the search is much more specific, the person may be further down their sales cycle and closer to buying a home.
Keywords and SEO
Although keywords are important for SEO – they are not important in the way most people think. Your focus for keywords should be in the Title, Page Headers and Description of the page and not necessarily in the copy itself. The main thing to be aware of is not getting penalized by overusing a keyword or keyword phrase because of the negative consequences.