Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

If you ask Google to “Define Keyword” it takes you to dictionary.com and shows the meaning as:

noun

  1. a word that serves as a key, as to the meaning of another word, a sentence, passage, or the like.
  2. a word used to encipher or decipher a cryptogram, as a pattern for a transposition  procedure or the basis for a complex substitution.
  3. Also called catchword. Library Science. A significant or memorable word or term in the title, abstract, or text of a document or other item being indexed, used as the index entry.
  4. Digital Technology. a word used to classify or organize digital content, or to facilitate an online search for information: Search the database for the keyword “Ireland.”

Or, you may end up at the FreeDictionary.com (by Farlax) and view these exact keyword meanings:

key·word

also key word  (ke´wûrd)

n.

  1. A word that serves as a key to a code or cipher.
  2. A significant or descriptive word.
  3. A word used as a reference point for finding other words or information.


Basically they are saying that if you want to create or translate a coded message or a cipher you need a keyword. But unless you are Ralphie in A Christmas Story, trying to decode Little Orphan Annie’s cryptic message, you may be wondering why keywords are important. 

We don’t talk or communicate in codes or ciphers (unless we are spies) so what’s the big deal? The big deal is the internet and SEO (search engine optimization) which to a lot of people seems like a confusing cipher all by itself, especially when it comes to website rankings, views, hits, clicks, etc. 

Keywords are words you use on your web page to make sure people find you when they are doing an internet search. If you are a granite fabricator you might want to use specific words like granite countertops, marble countertops or natural stone (obviously there are more). That way when people are Googling or Binging what you do, your company comes up.

There are actually two kinds of keywords. Broad keywords are short, general terms that people tend to start with but are not necessarily specific enough to help them narrow down their search. Long tail keywords are much more specific and are usually more than one word. 

If someone just searches “countertops,” everything comes up. Laminate, solid surface, quartz, etc. pop up in the search and that isn’t very helpful. The same thing happens if someone only Bings “granite.” Quarries, wholesalers and designers pop up as well as fabricators. You might make the list, you might not. These are broad keywords. Broad keywords are general and are very difficult for the search engine to rank and get traffic for. 

You are much less likely to get traffic or leads from just  broad keywords.

Long tail keywords are a bit longer but much more specific– i.e.: granite countertops, White Carrara marble countertops, granite vanity tops or a specific company name (like Artistic Stone Design). These keywords are much more specific and will probably land a better result for the searcher. Since they are more specific to your business or industry they are much easier for the search engine to rank, and you stand a much better chance of getting actual qualified leads or business from them. 

The “key,” so to speak, to keywords is not to be too broad but not to be overly specific. If you are too general you might not hit your desired audience. I’m sure this has happened to all of us. You Google something like tennis shoes and you get all the local shoe stores in town and right in the middle, out of nowhere there is a jewelry store. The jewelry store has no relevance to your search but there it is. What has probably happened is somewhere on their site they are discussing a charm or specialty piece that they describe as looking like a tennis shoe. 

But if you are too specific you could possibly miss out on the searchers that are being more general.  If your keyword is White Carrara honed marble you may miss the searchers looking for White Carrara polished marble. It’s a fine line.

Since keywords are the foundation to your website and help visitors to your site understand what you do, every page of your site should tie back to one of your keywords. Searchers often skim pages until they hit the keyword they used to search with. If the page isn’t relevant or doesn’t exhibit that keyword, they just keep going. 

There are several ways to determine your most relevant keywords to your business or industry. The best and easiest way is to just trust your web designer. It’s their job to know and they have the tools and knowledge to help you. This is just another reason to use a professional web designer or SEO expert. 

Your website and the potential customers it brings is a big investment. It is a lot of times your potential customer’s first impression of you. Why leave it to an amateur?

Google has a neat program called keyword planner. It is part of their adwords program, which is an advertising program run and sponsored by Google, but it will help you figure out your keywords. 

There are some other online programs that will help you as well. Some are free, some are not. Wordpot, Ubersuggest and Wordtracker are a few of the free ones. Then there are some that you need to pay for like MOZ, Raven Tools and KeywordSpy. Now, you might want to ask if there is a difference in quality between a free program and a paid for program. Honestly, I don’t know. I have a web designer that I trust to take care of my keywords. That’s the route we chose.

One warning: whatever you do, don’t get caught keyword stuffing on your website. Keyword stuffing is an SEO trick where a website is overloaded or “stuffed” with keywords over and over. One slick way to do it is to make the words the same color as the background so anyone seeing your website won’t see the words but the search engine will pick up on them. Another way is to hide the keywords behind photos. There are other tricks as well, but once the search engines figure it out, your site can and probably will be banned and that ban might be permanent.  Why risk it?

Keywords are becoming more and more important every day on the internet and SEO. Are your keywords in order?

Sharon Koehler is a 10- year veteran of the stone industry and currently head of marketing for Artistic Stone Design in Richmond, Va. She has been a regular contributor to various trade magazines for several years. Please send your thoughts on this or any other article to .