Google processes more than 40,000 searches per second, 16 to 20% of which have never been searched before. Every one of those searches is made up of keywords.

You might be wondering “what is a keyword?” Let’s look at what they are and why they’re so important to search engine optimization or SEO.

What is a Keyword?

Simply put, keywords are the words that make up a web page. Many of those words aren’t relevant to the topic though. Take the first sentence in this paragraph, for example. Words like “are” or “the” are found anywhere.

In that particular sentence, you would consider “keywords”, “words”, and “web page” relevant to the topic. These are the words that Google and other search engines use to figure out what a page is about.

When someone searches for those keywords or other related ones, Google might suggest that page in the search results because it “knows” it’s about what the searcher is looking for.

This is why keywords are so important to SEO – they tell the search engines what your page is about. Keywords are only one piece of the SEO puzzle, mind you. You can learn more about how to optimize your website in this complete guide.

Google Gets Smarter All the Time

Google is constantly improving its algorithm to figure out ways to offer better results to its searchers. In the early days, all it took to rank a page at the top of the results was to include the keyword you were targeting over and over through the content. This is better known as “keyword stuffing.”

As Google got more sophisticated, it got better at understanding the context of the words around the main keyword. This meant that instead of stuffing a page with the same keyword over and over, you would get better results by writing a quality article that used related words naturally. Much the same as you would if you were talking to someone about the topic face-to-face.

Primary and Secondary Keywords

For effective SEO, your page should target a primary keyword and some secondary keywords. The primary keyword is the main topic of the post. This would be the words that a searcher would search for in Google.

Secondary keywords relate to the primary keywords and help Google zero in on what the page is actually about.

Take the keyword “lose weight” for example. On its own, it could be about fitness, car racing, luggage, or any number of other things. If the page also includes words like diet, running, cardio, and scale, there’s a pretty good chance it’s about fitness.

If you’re targeting the keyword “lose weight” with that page on your site, including all those secondary keywords helps with SEO by showing Google what the page is about. It will also improve your chances of ranking for slightly different searches like “weight loss diet” or “best cardio for losing weight.”

Don’t Get Too Caught Up With Keywords

It’s important to think about them when building a web site but don’t worry too much about what is a keyword and what’s not. Write naturally and make providing good information to your site’s visitors your main goal. Include your keywords where they make sense but don’t make the writing awkward or hard to read for the sake of including your keywords.

Google wants to give its searchers the best possible solution for their needs so focusing on quality will help with SEO as well. Learn how to do effective keyword research and watch the traffic to your website grow.