Keywords, Search Terms and Keyword Phrases – Essential Everywhere Online


What’s the first thing you think about when trying to locate anything on the Internet? It’s most likely think the word or words that describe what you want to find. In the Internet world these are known as keywords, keyword phrases and search terms.

While most people are familiar with typing in a search term or keywords into the Google search box, many people don’t realize how broadly keyword phrases and search terms are used in so many other places online. These words and terms are employed anywhere you want to find information or anywhere you want your information to be found.

Finding and Getting Found

How you use keywords, keyword phrases and search terms is crucial for finding and getting found on the web. And let’s be up front, why bother creating content for the Internet if you don’t want people to find it and view it.

Keywords – More Than Search Engines and SEO

Many people associate keywords with search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo or Duck-Duck-Go. Beyond search engines, keywords are used in many other ways across the Internet and beyond. These can include:

• Webpage content
• Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising
• Ecommerce shopping hubs and listings (Amazon, eBay, Etsy)
• Retail store websites
• Searches for maps, images and videos
• Social media posts, profiles, ads, hashtags
• Email marketing content and subject lines
• Blog posts
• Website SEO elements
• Resumes to submit to potential employers
• Resumes submitted to job postings sites
• Review and referral sites
• Unseen descriptive elements

The Wide Variety of Ways Keywords Are Used

Beyond business and personal websites, blogs, SEO and Google rankings, there is a broad array of other areas where keywords are important and more likely essential. Here are some of the most common places:

  • Online Shopping Platforms and Hubs such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Google Shopping: Frequently when visiting Amazon the first thing a person does is type a phrase into the search field at the top of the page. These search terms (keywords) are used to identify and locate the products that are the best match based on similar keywords used in the titles and product descriptions of product listings.
  • Retail Store Websites such as Best Buy, Walmart, Target and most every other online retailer have some form of search mechanism that requires the use of search terms and keywords to locate products or services.
  • Online Advertising such as Pay Per Click  (PPC), and other formats frequently rely on target keywords or groups of keywords to trigger the display of specific ads. Targeted search terms and keyword phrases are an essential element of most online advertising campaigns. Keywords provide context for the searcher’s interests and identify whether a given ad should be shown to that searcher. While this type of advertising have been part of search engines like Google (AdWords) and Bing for some time it is also commonly used on social media sites and many large ecommerce shopping sites such as Amazon (Sponsored Product Ads), Walmart, eBay, Etsy and many others.
  • Social Media Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all include the use of keywords and search phrases to identify which visitors are most likely to see your posts, profile, images, videos and ads. User names, business names, posts titles, image and video titles and descriptions all contain keywords and phrases that can be searched for in various ways on social media sites. And of course the use of #hashtags is really just a dedicated and optimized form of keywords that can be searched for to uncover relevant content.
  • Review and Referral Sites such as Yelp, Open Table, Trip Advisor, Angie’s List and others use a search mechanism to allow visitors to find the right type of product, service, restaurant, hotel in a specific geographic area. These results can generally be search by some form of rating system and by date. It all starts with a keyword or set of search terms.
  • Resumes Submitted to a Potential Employer should (must?) include specific keywords. Many companies use resume scanning tools and services that look for keywords related to the needs of a specific job opening or position. Even if you submit your resume via hard copy it is likely to be scanned by a machine or a live person to identify relevant keyword phrases.
  • Resume Posting Websites and Job Boards are the flip side of the job hunting process. On these sites someone posting a resume is looking to be found by an employer that is a good match. A significant portion of that matching is done based on the keyword and phrases used in the resume. Keywords can show up in job titles, previous employers, work experience, skills listed, geographic locations, trainings attended, certifications received, articles, papers and books published. Understanding what keyword phrases your ideal employer might be looking for can be useful in honing the content and construction of a resume or an online profile.
  • LinkedIn is another aspect of the employment and job hunting world. Similar to resume posting websites keywords influence how LinkedIn displays relevant information to users. This includes suggested articles, new people to connect to, and new jobs or careers of interest. The search engine within LinkedIn is used by job searchers, employers and head hunters. Search results are driven by keywords in your personal profile, previous employers, skills listed, geographic locations, trainings attended, certifications received, articles, papers and books published, stated areas of interest and LinkedIn groups that you belong to.
  • Unseen Places is as the name implies, places that most web searchers don’t see but yet keywords play an important role. One common place is in web page Meta Tags. These include important items such as web page Title tags and Description tags that are visible to search engines but only visible to the average person by reviewing the HTML code that makes up the web page. Another example of invisible keyword usage is within internal product tags on ecommerce sites such as Amazon, Etsy and eBay. Keywords used in this  manner are inserted in areas only accessible to the site owner. While shoppers or visitors don’t see these important words, tags and phrases, the elements provide the internal search engine on the ecommerce site with enhanced information for locating and showing the best products to searchers.
  • Email Marketing will frequently us keywords as a central element in successful email marketing campaigns. An important us for targeted keywords and phrase is in the email subject line. Frequently email subject lines contain one or more targeted keywords connected to the goal, a brand or a landing page of the email campaign. Important keyword phrases are also commonly used within the body of the email and for identifying links from the email to a website or landing page.

Finding the Optimal Keywords to Use

There are numerous tools, strategies and tactics available for researching, locating and measuring the effectiveness of keyword phrases and search terms. The optimal tools and tactics will vary depending on the circumstances (Amazon product listings, social media, PPC advertising, online shopping, blog post, resume, SEO, email marketing) of how you are using keyword phrases.

Whether you are building your business visibility, purchasing products or services, developing your social media presence for yourself or your business, or trying to enhance your career through finding or getting found for a new job, the effective use of keywords, search terms and keyword phrases are essential.

For businesses, keyword research goes beyond which keywords your business is focused on, utilizing or ranking for in Google. Researching your competitors keyword usage and rankings is another effective and productive area of business intelligence.


Effective use of keywords go far beyond searches in standard search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo. The main benefit of effective keyword use is finding and getting found online.

Understanding and using keywords effectively can result in increased productivity, greater visibility, more effective marketing and advertising, greater sales, more effective communication, finding a better job, finding a new employee, locating the best product to purchase and more effective use of social media.

These benefits can be cumulative. Increased visibility or productivity in one area can frequently lead to increased effectiveness in another area. For instance keyword research done for website search engine optimization (SEO) can be leveraged and used in other areas including advertising, social media, marketing campaigns, whitepapers and web page content creation.

Keywords, search terms and keyword phrases are used in a wide range of areas in business and personal interaction on the web. They are an essential ingredient for finding and getting found on the Internet. Having a clearer understating of how to effectively use keywords will make for a more productive and successful experience on the Internet.

Next Steps:

Be conscious of how important it is to use the optimal keywords, search terms and keyword phrases when searching or communicating online. Words, tags, terms and phrases play an important role in your online activities.

For businesses, using the best tools or services to locate optimal keywords can pay huge dividends, both short term and longer term. For personal use, keyword research can include testing multiple keywords and search terms along with scanning other resumes, job posting and LinkedIn profiles to see what keywords are being used the most. Research and repeat testing are key.



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About Mike McEvoy

Mike McEvoy has a strong and successful history in the technology business world. With more than 25 years as a technology, marketing and Internet professional, Mike has also been a small business owner since 2002.
The primary focus of Mike and his team is on helping small businesses build a stronger web presence using digital marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, social media and email marketing.
 Connect with Mike on Twitter - @Mike_McEvoy and @WebPresenceBiz

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