What is a keyword?

“Keywords”, “Adwords”, “SEO”, “Search Engine Optimisation”, “Google”, “Google Analytics”, “Website Engagement”, “Return on investment”, etc, etc. These words are just some that make up the complex digital minefield, which those of us in marketing like to think of as the “building blocks” of content management.

Depending who you’re talking to, these words can be the constituent parts of a great website or the person writing its worst nightmare.

At Kitchen Table Creative, we have a rather mixed view. Some of us really love these words, and there are others like me, who get driven a little bit mad by them. You see, not one single thing that we write can be written without considering ALL of the above words, and probably a whole lot more too.

For many people who read websites, the last thought in their heads is why certain words have been used and not others. They are, hopefully, reading the text and enjoying it without a thought of the “backend” of a website.

For those of us who are writing the content for the website, keywords are critical. Not only because we have a clever understanding of language, but because we know that certain keywords will get our content read.

Think about it this way; remember earlier on when you were trying to find out when your favourite band was playing next? What words did you type into the search window of your Internet search engine? The name of the band? Well, that’s a good start.  Imagine your favourite band is called, “Pearl Jam”. What do you think would happen if you typed in the words, “pearl” or “jam”? I have a feeling you might get taken to websites that wax lyrical about the beauty of pearls or how to make your favourite jam. However, if you typed in the word, “Pearl Jam” and “next concert near me”, something completely different is likely to appear on your screen. Yes, it should be when the band, “Pearl Jam“is going to be playing at a venue close to where you are.

(She checks quickly to see that this is indeed true. Phew! It is!)

The words described above such as, “pearl”, “jam”, “PearlJam”, etc are referred to as “keywords”. These words act as keys that unlock content, making it easier to find the things you are looking for on the Internet. Not only are they imperative for the end-user, but they are also pretty important for the person writing the content too. That person would usually be thinking about the kinds of words that his or her reader will type into the search engine in order to collect information about the subject the writer is writing about. If I was writing an article about Pearl Jam, I would ensure that there were words like the names of their most famous songs, the place from which they come, their lead singer’s name, and other such things within my copy. These would match the words that my potential reader would type in if he or she was looking for information about Pearl Jam.

Writing content for a website is not a unilateral process. The writer needs to try to anticipate what the reader wants to read about and so, as a result, keywords become vital tools that will ensure that the content is both found and read.

So in answer to the question, “What is a keyword?“ I would argue that a keyword is a combination of a building block for great content and a tool to unlock the treasure chest of information that is the “worldwide web”.

(Keep an eye out for my ideas on what the other words at the beginning of this blog are. Don’t get me started on hashtags!)

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