Choosing keywords for your website

Selecting the best keywords

Keywords help search engines work out what your website (and therefore business) is about. Search engines use the search terms entered to compare against the content of yours and others websites to figure out which websites to show in the search results and in which order to show those results.

What keywords should I use?

This is not as complex as you might think. So, what does your business/organisation do? What services and/or products do you provide and what are the main focus areas of your business. Often these terms are already (or certainly should be) on your website and typically some of them will be the words you use for your website menu or links. e.g. If your business is working as a plumber then keywords such as Plumber, find a plumber, plumbers in, Central heating repairs would most probably be part of your keyword selection.

Every webpage you create as part of your website has it's own Meta Tags. These help websites understand what your web page is about and the keywords and other details you include should be unique for each web page you create. Otherwise the search engines will assume that your pages are all basically about the same content so no point reading beyond the first few. Don't forget that each web page should also include a title, Meta description, a H1 and some H2 and other heading tags - see our section on Search Engine Optimisation for Small Businesses for more details on this.

Choose keywords which are less competitive

Initially, you might want to select your keywords which are less common. E.g. If you're hoping to get to the top of the search engines for the example above and just select 'plumber' as your keyword then don't be surprised to find 100'000 other companies all trying to do the same. To get around this problem, use a longer search term e.g. 'plumbers in trowbridge', 'central heating repairs in Bristol', and optimise your website for this. 1 and 2 word keywords are the most competitive, whereas 4 word keywords are less competitive and therefore more likely to bring results. These longer keywords are called 'long tail keywords' in the SEO world.

You're the expert so show it!

Ok, so you know how to fix a central heating boiler and your website has been built to show that you are a plumber and work in a certain area. Search engines are looking for value in what they present to their searchers. Value means providing the best website which meets the search term where best would be a website with plenty of feature-rich content on or around the subject (keyword) of the search term. If you have time, add a few extra pages to your website such as case studies, testimonials, reviews, how-to and other content-rich pages which will just happen to include your chosen search terms.

Search engines are your friend

Type your chosen keyword into a search engine these days and it will typically try its best to recommend other search terms related to your chosen keyword. This it does based on millions of searches so knows what people actually search for. Don't miss this opportunity and add these recommended search terms to your website either within the keywords, content or preferably as uniquely crafted webpages devoted to the long-tail keywords.

Example meta keywords for a web page

Here's an example of a Meta keywords tag for a web page. Just copy this to between the head tags of your web page and enter your own keywords.

Top five tips for choosing keywords for your website

Here's a summary and top 5 tips for selecting the keywords for your website.
  • Select keywords relevant to your business, services and products
  • Make use of long-tail keywords as these are more likely to appear on the search results
  • Answer questions such as 'guide to', 'how to' etc.
  • See what the search engines recommend for your chosen keywords
  • Don't overdo it - use keywords sparingly