web designer planning out site on laptop with notebook
woman typing on computer with list of keywords on notepad beside her
Keyword research and planning now can save you time and energy in the future.


Let’s talk about keywords! Last week we discussed the importance of your website’s structure in regard to SEO ranking. In this article, you will learn why having a keyword strategy is essential for any website. You will also learn how to set things up, and we will give you a list of some useful tools that will make the whole thing much easier. Let’s go!

Why Keywords Matter?

Keywords are search terms people use when trying to find information on the Internet. Many people are looking for a product or service search on Google or Bing to do some research. It doesn’t matter if you’re a construction company in Chazy or a web designer in Plattsburgh, you have competitors who show up next to you on search engines.

You may want to rank in the #1 position ahead of everyone else for “web designers near me,” but how do you get there? First, you need to ask yourself, “Do I specifically say that I’m a web designer?” “Do I discuss my current and past web design clients?” Well, one step to getting there is using the keywords that potential searchers may use to find you. There are a few things you need to know, but first, you need to understand how search engines work.

A Very Smart Bot

Search engines like Google are mostly automatic. Because there are billions of webpages out there, it would be impossible to rank them manually, and for every single search term a.k.a. Keyword.

The core of every search engine is its algorithm, as it does all the ranking. The algorithm compares every new page/post with all other existing pages and posts that exist on the Internet. The result is obvious; it is the collection of search results you see when you press “enter” after Googling something.

Keywords Are Like Guideposts

Now back to keywords—they are essential because they tell the algorithm what the page or article is all about. The algorithm will go through the article, trying to understand it’s the point.

adirondack mountain in background covered in snow with wooden signpost in the foreground
Photo by Jens Johnsson from Pexels

For example, articles like this one that contains the word “keywords” often include “search engines” but also “search engine optimization” and similar words. That will signal the algorithm that the article is about digital marketing and that it should show in results related to this topic.

Forgetting About Keywords Might Cause Problems

Because the algorithm is not a human, failing to include some relevant keywords on your site, page, or blog post can cause problems.

While a human would pick up what the article is about without any issues. A bot will have difficulty understanding what your page is about if you don’t add any industry, brand, or service information listed. For example, a car mechanic that never mentions engines, exhausts, brakes, or similar car parts anywhere on the website will probably hide its purpose from Google.

Modern search engines are smarter than ever, and even if you don’t have a keyword strategy, they will probably do quite a good job. However, because taking care of the keywords and SEO isn’t too tricky (nor expensive if you want to hire pros), neglecting it is a risk not worth taking.

Don’t Go Too Fancy

While having a site that seems exotic, and uses alternative words and synonyms might seem like a good idea, think twice about it. Your goal is to get found on Google, and you should adapt to your average customer’s tone. Aim for keywords they would use when searching for services like yours.

person on ground working under a vintage volkswagen bug

How To Choose Keywords The Right Way

Identify Your Niche

When starting to think about keyword ranking, you need to take a step back and look at your brand as a whole. What is your main advantage?

If you are a mechanic, “car repair” is too broad. Try to rank for that, and you are doomed, there are just too many significant players with already established web presence out there.

Maybe you specialize in repairing old-timers? Or perhaps you are the guy to come to when people have a muscle car problem? Are you the best one in your area for taking care of dents and restoring the body to its former glory?

Ranking for search terms like “old-timer car mechanic” is much easier and more effective than just “car repair.” It will give you a competitive advantage, and you won’t lose anything. Yes, you will still rank for “car repair” if you try to rank for “muscle car mechanic,” but it won’t be the other way around.

Go For Long-tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer, more natural phrases people actually use when searching for something. These become especially important nowadays when more and more people use Siri and Alexa, and voice search in general.

In our car mechanic example, a long-tail keyword would be “best Mercedes transmission mechanic in Portland” or “where to fix a muscle car engine in Philly.” (always try to be location-specific!)

Trying to rank for long-tail keywords is one of the smartest things you can do. Not only these are more natural, but because they involve more words, and are more specific, there is less competition. Plus, you can rank for your “niche.” For example,  focusing on niches like Mercedes transmission mechanics, which will mean you will get contacted for things you specialize in, making the sale more likely to happen. Of course, long-tail keywords will draw less traffic in, but conversions are all that matters.

Tools You Can Use For Keyword Planning

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO WordPress plugin is a staple when it comes to search engine optimization on WordPress sites. If you are on WP, you simply must install Yoast; it is that essential.

While the free version of this plugin doesn’t do anything radical, it covers all the basics, which will ensure you start your SEO journey right. It will show you what to improve on every page on the site, and it will guide you through the Google Console setup process, which will help your rankings.

Install Yoast, and follow its instructions on every page, it will help you understand SEO much better.

Keyword Rank Checker

Keyword Rank Checker by Small SEO Tools is a great app that lets you do bulk checks. You can enter up to ten phrases at once and see where you rank. Unfortunately, this only works for global results, not location-specific, but it is still a valuable tool to find out where you are at among others.

This tool is free to use, and all it takes is for you to enter your URL, and up to ten keywords you are trying to rank for and to select a search engine. There’s also one cool option, as Keyword Rank Checker lets you compare both mobile and computer results. If you don’t find your site in mobile results, that might indicate it’s unoptimized.


SEMrush is a premium tool used by SEO professionals worldwide, and it is one of the most famous and best apps out there. It’s costly, and we don’t advise you to buy it if you have only one site and aren’t involved in SEO.

However, go ahead and try their gap analyzer. You can do it for free, and it will tell you all the keywords your competitors rank for, and you do not. While not every one of them is relevant, you should incorporate the most important ones, as it will help Google to rank your site correctly.


BrightLocal is a tool you have to try, even if you don’t plan to purchase it later. This tool has one of the most generous trial offers, as it lets you fully use it for 15 days, completely free. And for small businesses, this is more than enough to establish your SEO presence. BrightLocal is especially interesting as it shows you how to take care of local citations, which are a very important but often neglected ranking factor. Not only that they will help local people find your business, but they also tremendously help Google to rank it. Local citations will even give you an advantage over your direct local competitors.

Free Keyword Research Tools

Answer the Public and Also Asked, both of these websites are fantastic resources when performing long-tail keyword research. You can only perform three searches a day on Ask The Public for free. Also Asked on the other hand allows you to perform unlimited searches for free. I like to enter my short tail keywords such as “Search Engine Optimization” into Answer the Public.

Answer the Public Search Results

What is returned is the most common queries associated to that term. It connects every who what when where and why to the term and gives you the results. This is an excellent tool to help you brainstorm for future pages or articles. Your goal is to take each of these questions and answer it to the best of your ability. Really work to speak to why the reader used that search term, what the issue is, and how you can help guide them to success.


As you can see, taking care of keywords is not super complicated. All it takes for you is to narrow down on the most important ones, find appropriate long-tail keywords, and aim for local search rankings. That’s it, if you do that, you will be so far ahead of most of your competitors. Trust us on this; most people won’t bother to take care of keywords, even if it isn’t much work.

But, if you feel like all this is too time-consuming, boring, or too technical for you, don’t hesitate to contact us, and get everything done by professionals.