What exactly is a keyword in terms the average Internet user will understand? What does a keyword or a keyword phrase have to do with your copy? And what exactly is a keyword tail? Keywords are the words that Internet users key into search engines to locate a specific website, product, or service. For instance, if someone wants to improve their grill cooking skills they might key in barbecue cooking, or grilling, or cooking on a grill, recipes for gas grill cooking or even BBQ cooking. That’s the challenge, discovering which words people will key into the search engine. Look at the example below and notice the difference in the results of what seem to be similar keywords

1. Grilling – 10,700,000 results

2. Barbecue cooking – 721,000 results

3. Cooking on a grill – 15,600,000 results

4. Recipes for gas grill cooking- 188,000 results

Keywords are very important to search engine success and effective web copy writing. Focus on the wrong keywords and you’ll get less website traffic. Chose the correct keywords and your website will light up like a Christmas tree… well maybe not a Christmas tree. Keywords are the spinach that will empower your copy.

Keywords aren’t just words! Many Internet users have figured out that they can search using a statement (a keyword tail) and narrow the results of their search more effectively than if they use a single word. Simple keywords are like Twinkies while phrases are a healthy and delicious meal cooked by Paula Deen: totally fattening and guaranteed to bulk up your search results.

Let’s look a little closer. Whether you’re doing pay per click (PPC) advertising or working to improve your ‘organic’ search results, keywords are the lifeblood of your success. Before you build a new website, update an old one, or initiate a new pay per click campaign; you need to take the time to do your keyword research. It isn’t rocket science, but it’s not finger painting either.

Here are some thoughts that may help you understand the principles behind keywords. You saw the example above. Here’s another. When a person begins their initial online shopping process, they may likely key in something like ‘new homes Baltimore’ into the search field. Now, as you can imagine, that’s a pretty broad search term. What I mean by broad is that many builders, Realtors, and brokers want that search term to bring them up on the top page of a search engine. Since there are only 10 organic spots and only a few more sponsored spots (paid spots) on the top page of say Google, and there are likely hundreds of builders, Realtors and brokers in Baltimore; so somebody – or many somebody’s – are going to be disappointed. When a search term is that broad, it is usually expensive in a PPC campaign and it is usually facing tons of competition. That doesn’t mean you don’t use the broad terms, but it does mean that your keywords must narrow the search process.

Once the Internet home shopper realizes that the ‘new homes Baltimore’ query generated hundreds of thousands of results they will likely narrow their search by adding a modifier. Their next search might be something like ‘new homes Baltimore energy efficient.’ Because they remembered that they were very concerned about energy efficiency. But that too generates a ton of results. Now, they are narrowing their search and they use the term ‘new homes Baltimore energy efficient Fells Point.’ Wham, now the list has diminished significantly.

The point is this: if you are building new homes that are energy efficient in Fells Point, Baltimore that is a killer keyword phrase!