This is the fifth post in my “SEO for Rookies” series – more simplified SEO here.

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You’ve likely seen the advice, “you need to target keywords to better your ranking on Google.” Let’s dig into what this means in plain English:

Keywords are words and phrases your potential customers search on the internet.

Companies “target keywords” by writing articles (often called “blog posts”) using these search terms on their website. The hope is a paying customer will search using these keywords, and the company’s article or blog post will appear high on the first page of Google. And, of course, the delighted customer will click over to the company’s website to learn how it will solve all of their problems with a swipe of a credit card.

Some keywords are hard to rank for – these tend to be the more “general” keywords that relate to your industry. Many potential customers are searching for these terms and keywords, so they are highly coveted.

Words like “interior painting” are hard keywords in the painting industry because so many companies want to be at the top of the first page of Google for “interior painting” to capture that vast and profitable market.

Some keywords are easier to rank for – these are highly specific search terms for which a small niche of your customers might search. These niche-y keywords are called “long tail keywords.”

On my website, “painting walk-in freezers” is an example of a long-tail keyword because, well, not many people ever search for this.

Let’s stop here to remember that one of the things that gets a company a higher ranking on Google is “expertise.”

Using long-tail keywords to demonstrate expertise is a great strategy, especially when you’re just beginning to work on SEO. Once Google sees some traffic heading to your website, even for projects out of your local area, they attribute more expertise to your site and will increase your overall ranking for the harder-to-rank search terms.

In other words, to more easily rank higher for profitable terms like “interior painting,” try to rank first for long-tail terms like “painting walk-in freezers” to acquire some expertise in Google’s eyes.

Using the “painting walk-in freezer” keywords as an example, I have a case study on our website of a walk-in freezer project we painted years ago. This article likely gets very little traffic in our local area. Still, it is at the top of all Google searches nationally because, well, nobody else has written about such a specific type of project.

This nationally ranking article demonstrates painting expertise to Google. It gives us a higher overall ranking for harder-to-rank-for search terms (like “interior painting”) that reach tons of potential customers.

See?

Read my other “SEO for Rookies” posts:

SEO for Rookies #1: “I have my head in the sand about working on SEO.”

SEO for Rookies #2: “What should I write?”

SEO for Rookies #3: But I can’t / won’t / hate to write!

SEO for Rookies #4: But I have no photos!

SEO for Rookies #5: What does it mean to “target keywords?”