What Exactly Are Keywords in SEO?

Practis Blog

If you’ve started to research SEO or have recently started a new campaign, you’ve probably seen or heard about the importance of keywords. You may even be spending countless hours searching for those keywords just to see how you’re ranking. Keywords are certainly important, and a great way to gauge some of your online performance, but here are a few things you should know about them.

What Are Keywords?

First things first, knowing what keywords are is the best place to start. When you begin a structured SEO campaign, it’s important to have some sort of baseline. Of course you know your goals (more patients!), but do you know how you’re going to reach those goals?

Before starting a campaign, the research needs to go into how people are searching and for what. That will help you determine the keywords (simply strong, dominant words and/or phrases) that should prominently displayed on your website via copy, metas, headers, and more. As you add those keywords in, Google indexes them and determines that your site is relevant and should be shown to those searching for those words and/or phrases. Some keywords are obvious while others aren’t. For example, if you’re a pediatrician, you know that “pediatrician” or “children’s doctor” are some that hold weight. But what about your service lines, or variations on spelling? Each of those words could allow for stronger content, and ultimately give you placement on a search engine results page.

Can Keywords Be Phrases?

One of the most important things to understand is that keywords aren’t simply words. In fact, there are tons of variations by which people search. For example, let’s take the pediatrician from above. People may end up searching “who is the best pediatrician near me” or “where can I get a flu shot for my child” instead of just a simplified series of words. Think about how you interact with Siri or Alexa. Are you simply saying “pediatrician”?

Keep in mind that people are not always searching simply, so you need to think about something called long tail search terms. Think of a primary keyword, then think of all of the variations, questions, or phrases that come off of that. If we’re optimizing for “physicals” we need to start thinking of all variations and the questions that go along with it. At the end of the day, we know there are people searching, “when does my child need a sports physical?”, so why not have them find your site?

How Do I Know My Keywords (and SEO) Are Working?

One of the biggest tips we can give to anyone is do not fixate on your keywords. If you’re checking them every day and complaining that you’re not ranking yet, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. Instead, start looking beyond the dominant terms.

Blogs, for instance, are insanely helpful for keywords and impressions. If written properly, they are packed with phrases and questions, and can lead to a lot of local and national rankings for your practice. In addition, your services pages can also do the same over time. Looking at impressions, along with quick analyses of what keywords and phrases people are using to reach your site, is the best way to gauge success. However, keep in mind that Google’s algorithm takes a bit to fully index new content, so it’s not going to be instant. Rest assured that if you are following proper SEO guidelines and creating solid, robust content, your keywords are working.

Can I Add or Change My Keywords?

Remember, SEO is a process and not a product. This means that you need to keep things consistent in order to see results. With that said, you can always add and adjust your keywords. In fact, Google suggests it. Continue to write strong copy and add pages about your services. Naturally, make sure that they flow and are easy to navigate, as user experience will eventually become a ranking term. And don’t go too spammy! One of the worst things you can do is stuff your site with terms. If you have one page that mentions pediatrician 45 times, you might want to adjust that down a bit. Make sure it’s readable for humans and you’ll be well on your way to success.

If you still have questions about keywords, or would like some help, Practis is here! Contact us today to get started with a SEO campaign that will get you ranking and direct patients to your practice.