SEO for Small Business: Keywords

If you’ve read or heard anything about SEO, you know that keywords are a part of optimizing your content for search engines. In this article, we’ll discuss what keywords are, how to generate a great list of terms relevant to your small business, where to incorporate these keywords, and how to optimize your keywords over time.
What Is a Keyword?

A keyword is any term or string of terms that a consumer might use in a search query online. For a small business, these keywords will by necessity relate to the products and services your company provides, as well as the industry vertical your business belongs to and the location of your business.

For example, if you own a pizza shop in Chicago, some relevant keywords might be:

  • Chicago pizzeria
  • Pizza shop near Chicago, IL
  • Local pizza restaurant
  • Pizza in Chicago
  • Pizza delivery 60605
  • Etc.

How to Generate a List of Keywords for Your Small Business

Chances are, you already have a short list of keywords based on your website copy, business listings, advertisements, and other online content. If not, the best way to start is to think like a consumer. How would someone searching for your business try to find you online, and what words would they use to perform a search?

To research additional keywords, there are a number of tools you can use; one of the best (and free!) tools is Google AdWords. Even if you don’t plan to run an AdWords campaign, you can use the Keyword Planner tool to find new keyword ideas, see the projected web traffic associated with specific keywords, and get a sense as to how competitive specific keywords are.

For even more keyword ideas, you can also take a look at your competitors’ websites, blogs, and online ad campaigns to see what terms they’re targeting.

Keep in mind that the more widely-used a keyword is, the more competition you’ll have for that term, which means that it’ll take more work to appear on the front page of search results when a user searches for that keyword. It’s a good idea to have a mix of broad/higher-traffic keywords and more specific/smaller-traffic keywords; broad keywords will show up in more searches, but specific keywords will direct more relevant traffic to your site.

Incorporating Keywords Into Your Online Content

Now that you’ve developed a solid set of keywords for your small business, what do you do with them? Incorporate them consistently into your online content. Places to include keywords include:

  • In the HTML title tags on your business website (these will be different for each page)
  • In the main headlines (H1s) on your business website
  • In the text on your website
  • In your local business listings
  • In posts that you write for your small business blog
  • In your descriptions and posts on social media profiles

Search engines index content from all kinds of websites, including local business listings sites like Yelp, Foursquare, YellowPages, and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Using rich keywords on all of your online properties will help boost your search ranking and help people searching for businesses like yours to find you online.

Analytics and Keyword Optimization

You might think that once you’ve incorporated keywords into your online content, your job is done. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the end of the story. In order to improve your search ranking and get your business in front of more eyes, you need to look at your performance over time using Google Analytics and other analytics programs you have in place.

How often you review and update your keywords depends on your site traffic / activity, your schedule, and whether you’re running AdWords campaigns (in which case, you’ll probably be looking at data a lot more often than the average site owner).

The Bottom Line

In order to reach consumers online, your business website, local listings pages, and social channels need to incorporate the keywords they’re searching for. With a little research, some minor site updates, and analytics in place, you’ll be up and running with keywords in no time.