• Barbara Gilbert

Understanding Keywords and Keyword Phrases

Keyword Definition

When you target specific words or phrases, you have a better chance at making your website rank in the search results. The words you are trying to rank for are called, “keywords.”

A keyword can be defined as a particular word or phrase which describes the contents of a web page. The purpose of the keyword is to sum up the main topic of that page.

Think of keywords and keyword phrases as clues for the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) If you write your content well, the search engines can tell what your content is about.

Search engines will index your site or place it in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) along with all the other webpages trying to compete for the same keyword or keyword phrase.

How Does Your Rankings Compare to Others?

Each page of your website gets indexed and listed with other pages that discuss the same “keyword.” However, how do you get your webpage to rank above others which are discussing the same thing? Your ranking improves, or plummets, due to a few variables, and one of those is backlinks.

If a new website is like setting up a store in the middle of the city but if there are no backlinks (links from other websites using your target keywords) that lead to your new website, there are no visitors. Getting no visitors means no rankings which means no traffic for your website. Traffic is what we all need to survive online and offline.

Backlink Definition

Moz.com defines a backlink as “a link created when one website links to another. Backlinks are also called ‘inbound links’ or ‘incoming link.’ Backlinks are important for search engine optimization as follows:

  • Backlinks are important if you want to rank your site on the front page of search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

  • Backlinks help determine the relevancy and popularity as far as particular keywords and search terms are concerned.

  • Backlinks are incoming “hyperlinks” from one webpage to another

  • These can be internal links from one of your website’s pages to another page on your site or external as a link to your webpage from somewhere other than your site, e.g. it could be a link from another website or from social media.”

For example, If you have ever clicked on a link on social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter, you were taken off the social media and sent to the page where the website in the link is located. This means you followed the link to another website.

For more information about backlinks, click here.

So, How Does This Help Search Engines Rank Website Content?

When ranking nearly identical content, the page with more relevant backlinks will almost always outrank similar pages with fewer relevant backlinks. The most backlinks wins! Preferably these are high quality backlinks, not hundreds of spammy ones.

It’s like being part of a popularity contest. Imagine a situation in which search engine spiders are crawling the web for content, and they come across 2 similar pages discussing the benefits of organic foods. The search engine spiders check out the code, text, images, videos, meta-tags, and everything else that makes up both of those pages. Then they compare what they found with the rankings they have already developed for other pages concerning the same topic.

If they can’t find some way to rank one of those pages higher or lower than the other, they look for and begin to study the backlinks for those pages. One page may have 100 backlinks from social media sites and other websites talking about organic food. If the second page only has 20 back links from relevant pages, it is going to be ranked lower in search results than the page with more backlinks.

Why is this important? Search engine algorithms consistently prioritize backlinks as a very important part of the ranking process, including internal backlinks. A really good example of this is Wikipedia. Look at how they use keywords and keyword phrases to link internally from one page to another.

Search Engine Algorithm Definition

Moz.com defines an algorithm as a search engine algorithm is a process or formula by which stored information is retrieved and ordered in meaningful ways. These algorithms have gone through many changes over the years in order to improve the quality of search results.

How Are Rankings Determined?

Search engine algorithms change all the time. Google goes through roughly 250 to 300 minor and major changes to their search algorithm every year.

The best way to get great rankings is to keep posting high quality original content.


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