What You Need to Know about Keywords

As a business owner, you’ve most likely heard the term “keyword'' - but are you aware of just how important they are?



a word or concept of great significance.

"homes and jobs are the keywords in the campaign"

  • a word that acts as the key to a cipher or code.
  • an informative word used in an information retrieval system to indicate the content of a document.

    Definition: Oxford 

In the world of marketing, the internet, and internet marketing, a keyword is the informative or descriptive word or phrase that tells users and search engines what a website is about.  Keywords are crucial in helping your potential customers find your business on the internet.  Without them, potential customers wouldn’t be able to find your website using search engines like Google.


Search engines, like Google, “crawl” the internet continuously - meaning they visit billions of websites. The search engine crawler will follow each link and read each page on your website. The crawler not only reads the text on every webpage, but also examines its meta data. The meta data is the descriptive data in the HTML code of your website. Based on the content of the metadata and the content on the page, the crawler will determine what each and every page is about by selecting out the keywords and phrases that best describe the meaning and content of the page. Each page’s URL is stored in the search engine's database along with the keywords. This is often referred to as indexing. Google will crawl and index every page of your website once every 4 to 30 days, depending on how much website traffic your website has, and how often you add new content or update your existing content. 

Now we know how a search engine like Google indexes all the websites in the world into their databases, but how does this affect a Google user? When an internet user searches for something on Google, Google looks up those search words or phrases in their databases, and determines which of the URLs collected from all the websites on the internet best matches the users search intent, i.e. which pages are the most relevant. Google will present pages from the most relevant to the least relevant to match the user’s intent. Note: Search engines index and rank individual web pages, not websites.


Google, as well as other search engines, present the results and URLs on what is known as the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

When search engines first became popular in the 1990’s, SERPs were simply a list of URLs that a user could choose from. Anybody that has used search engines in the last 5 years can attest that the results on a SERP are much more varied than just a simple list of URLs. Take for instance the keyword “law.”  There are numerous sources of info displayed in the SERP. This include the knowledge graph, books, scholarly articles, local law firms, national law firms, articles on law, ads for lawyers and 29 other SERP elements (read: 38 Google SERP Results You Need to Know About Part 1).

Google has become very sophisticated in trying to provide results to users as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Business owners need to ensure their web page copy and the HTML meta data of each communicates as clear as possible as to what the page is about. This process of optimizing your webpages for search engine crawlers and users is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).


Keywords are not used exclusively for SEO—they also play a role in pay-per-click advertising (PPC). The most common example of PPC is Google Adwords.

We’ve all seen PPC ads that appear at the top of many SERPs. Are keywords the same for PPC and SEO? Yes and no. Keywords for SEO are typically broader and intended to target users in all stages of the buying process, from simply gathering information to comparing companies or products, whereas keywords for PPC ads are targeted toward a specific action, such as immediately purchasing a product, signing up for a free trial, or attending an event.  

Implementation of SEO keywords is free (you may pay someone to implement them, but there is no charge per use), whereas for PPC ads, you are charged every time a user clicks on your ad.   

Lets quickly look at these two examples, “beer” and “brewery”.  Using Google’s Keyword Planner, you would see that the monthly search volume for the keyword “beer” is 100K to 1M and “brewery” has 1M to 10M monthly searches.


Now let's think about the user's search intent.  If a user types "beer” into the search bar, the results page shows PPC ads at the top of the page, a map, a listing of places to buy beer, and a knowledge graph containing information about beer. Google has clearly determined that the majority of users that enter the word “beer” in the search bar intend to purchase beer. 

Now, let's look at “brewery". Very similar to beer, but interestingly, no PPC ads. Google has determined that users searching for the term “brewery” are seeking information about breweries versus purchasing their product - beer. Notice the “people also ask” section in the SERPs is mainly business oriented. Alter the search term by adding “near me” and notice how the results change

The results page now displays a list of almost all breweries near the user, as Google has determined the user is seeking to visit a near by brewery.


Many business owners that are new to SEO do not immediately understand just how many related keywords or search phrases there can be for one main keyword.  

Take for example the two keywords used previously, “beer” and “brewery”.  

If you enter these two keywords into Google’s Keyword Planner tool, you can immediately see their imapct. First, “beer” receives between 100K to 1M searches a month, compared to 1M to 10M monthly searches for “brewery”.  An owner of a brewery that sells their beer directly to the consumer would utilize these two keywords on different pages of their website. Secondly, 1568 additional keyword ideas. As you can imagine, with as many breweries as there are, the keyword “brewery” and “beer” will be highly competitive - meaning all the breweries, tap houses, bars and even some restaurants will try to rank highly for those keywords.

However, selecting other suggested keywords for targeted pages of your website can significantly increase your traffic from search engines. How does a small business owner determine which keywords for which web pages? 

To determine this, a keyword analysis is conducted. A keyword specialist will determine the keywords and phrases that your website currently ranks for, what keywords your competitors rank for, which pages of your website you are focused on, which keywords target the users you are seeking to attract, and which keywords have high enough search volume but are not overly competitive. For more details, check out this article on Why You Should Hire A Keyword Specialist For Your Business. A keyword analysis is used to create a semantic core, which relates the keyword analysis to proposed changes on your website.  More information on what a semantic core is can be found in the CruxIQ section.  


Keywords are critical element of pay-per-click ads, which are often referred to as search engine ads or Adwords -the latter being the name of Google’s ads and their search engine. Are keywords for SEO and PPC the same?  As we mentioned earlier, yes and no. Yes, they are keywords based on users search intent. SEO is free for you to implement on your website while ads based on keywords are paid for. Certain keywords are more expensive than others.   Consider this; if a brewer desires to sell their latest batch using PPC ads, and used the keyword “brewery”,  they may end spending $1 per click for many visitors that are not interested in buying beer. Given the high search volume of the word "brewery" your ad budget could quickly be consumed by visitors simply looking for information about your brewery. Matching the search intent of the internet user to the website owner's desired action of the visitors is critical for cost-effective search engine advertising.  


There are lots of SEO agencies and freelancers that offer specific keyword services, however wading through them all and making sure you're getting a good deal can be quite the challenge. Check out our blog How to Hire an SEO Agency or Freelancer for some quick tips and best practices.



Keywords and phrases are used by a website owners to communicate with search engines what a website is all about, while attempting to match their target audience's search intent. Users on the internet view the results in what is known as a SERP (search engine results page) that varies based on the users search intent. Keywords are used for SEO and PPC ads, with SEO keywords being broader and free while PPC being narrower and for sale. Determining which keywords to utilize is best determined by conducting a keyword analysis

Cruxdata provides the information and tools you need to conduct a keyword analysis on your own, or you can hire one of our keyword specialists to use our tools for you, while leveraging their experience to produce a keyword analysis of your website. A keyword specialist not only conducts the task faster, saving you time, but also comes with the experience and knowledge of what is effective and not in the ever changing landscape of SEO.  

Like all aspects of digital marketing, there are countless agencies and consultants that can help you in the process of finding and implementing the right keywords for your website.    ‍

Many small business owners utilize freelancers to achieve the results at a lower cost than retaining a full service SEO agency. Cruxdata partners with freelancers that have proven track records, and manages the scope of work and payment processes for you. Moreover, you retain all the analysis data, reports and ongoing reporting in the Cruxdata platform.

Preston Derrick