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At this point, most everyone has heard of and understands the general idea around keywords. These are words, phrases and even sentences that are used in search queries to pull up desired results. However, not all keywords are created equal, and not all of them will get you the results you want when it comes to optimizing your company’s online presence.

Using Keywords to Improve Your Ranking

If you have a business, odds are you have a website promoting it. This might be an ecommerce site where people can buy your products and services online, or it might be more of a promotional page that tells potential customers what you offer and how to reach you. Whatever type of site you have, you will need to rank high in the search results of your target audience. This is where keywords come in to play. Below are five keyword practices you should implement to improve your SEO standing.

1. Keywords Should Be Specific

Let’s say you run a vegan bakery in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Keywords such as “bakery” and “Chicago” are not much use to you since they are so general. Longer keywords, such as “vegan bakery Chicago” or “vegan bakery Logan Square” will not only place you in more relevant results, but they will also show you to people who are more likely to want your services. You can get even more specific with your keywords to highlights your offerings and other features that are relevant to your business such as “vegan bakery Chicago free parking.”

2. Keywords Should Be Relevant to Your Business

It can be tempting to use as many keywords as possible in the hopes of getting more traffic to your site. It might even seem like good business practice to use adjacent keywords. For example, a vegan bakery in Logan Square might be tempted to include a keyword phrase like “vegan bakery Humboldt Park” in order to reach more customers, however, this is not always a good idea. Google and other search engines rank accurate information highly and penalize incorrect, misleading or out of date information. By advertising that your café is in a different location than it is, you may find yourself actually ranking lower than if you hadn’t included this information at all.

Search engines also look unfavorably at sites with high bounce rates. So, if you advertise your bakery is in a different location or has different products than what you actually offer, it may cause visitors to look at the first page, realize it isn’t what they are looking for and then leave. Instead of stuffing your site with as many slightly related keywords as you can find, focus on your niche, figure out what kind of content you can offer them, and keep it relevant to your business.

3. Keywords Should Be Varied

Not everyone searches for goods and services the same way. Some people search general terms like “bakery near me” and utilize the geolocation feature to find a place nearby. Others seek out quality over location with searches like “top 10 vegan bakeries Chicago.” Others still may shape their search in the form of a question, such as “Where can I get vegan cake in Chicago?” Because searches are so varied, your keywords should reflect that. When creating content, find natural ways to include these keywords throughout your site. Some can be included in your meta tags and title tags, while others will be better suited to blog titles or article content. Whatever you choose to present to your customers, make sure it is natural, isn’t overstuffed with search terms and adds actual value to your site.

4. Keywords Should Be Unique

While showing up in a lot of searches is good, showing up at the top of searches is better, and showing up at the top of searches for people who are actually going to buy your products is best. As previously mentioned, general keywords do next to nothing for your SEO ranking. While the search term “vegan bakery Logan Square” may get you onto the first page of the search results, it may not get you to the top, or you may still be lingering on the second or third page of results due to other businesses having better SEO in place.

So, in addition to adding these identifying keywords, be sure to also include unique terms that will have you standing above your competitors. If you have a signature item, such as a chocolate cake, consider keywords like “vegan chocolate cake Logan Square” or “dairy free chocolate cake Chicago.” Do you offer cakes for special occasions or pastry platters for offices? Create keyword phrases that reflect this. These strategies can separate you from the pack. Again, make sure these phrases are varied in the way they are written, are included naturally in high-value content, and reflect goods and services that you actually provide.

5. Keywords Should Be AI Friendly

More and more people these days are relying on an AI assistant to find them the goods and services they need. Because of this, the way search engines crawl for information is changing. Voice searches include more filler words since they follow the way people speak. This means a search for “vegan bakery Chicago” becomes “Where can I get a vegan cake near me?” These types of long form search terms can make creating content more challenging, but not impossible. If you are struggling to include these types of keyword phrases into your content, consider tapping the resources of a content marketing company or a digital marketing firm who can create content for your site that naturally incorporates these SEO trends.