Search Engine Optimization is the strategy used to optimize your online content in order to increase the chance of your website having a high-rank position on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Whilst social media and paid advertisements are great ways to reach your target audience, it has been found that search engines do deliver the majority of traffic to websites.
Neglect SEO at your peril, especially if you want to generate leads.
The digital world is full of an ever-increasing number of websites; the last thing you want is for yours to get lost in the midst of them all and never be found by your target audience. Research has shown that 75% of users stay on the first page of SERPs so you definitely want to prevent your website from landing on page 2 of Google.
Building an effective bank of keywords is an integral part of your SEO strategy. This article will provide a guide on how best to do this to ensure your SEO strategy is the most effective. In turn, this will not only increase the amount of traffic, but also the right type of traffic to your website.
Where to find your keywords for SEO
To start, identify a list of topics that are relevant to the product/service you offer. For example, if you’re selling digital marketing services to businesses, your key topics would be things like ‘SEO’, ‘social media marketing’, ‘content marketing’, ‘marketing automation’, etc.
Once you have around 5 topics, pick out keywords/phrases that customers are likely to search about that topic. For example, if it’s social media marketing, it could be ‘what is social media marketing’ or ‘types of social media marketing’, etc.
Coming up with these keywords can be a bit of a struggle, so to get the brain ticking and to help with the process, here are some things you can do.
Use website analytics software to identify and research keywords
Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are really useful services and are free to use (bonus!). Other helpful services for keyword research are Ahrefs, SEMrush or Ubersuggest however, these do need to be purchased. Using these services, you can analyze your current organic search report and identify what keywords are currently bringing in the most traffic to your website.
You can also identify new keywords that are relevant to your chosen topics and analyze their monthly volume (how many times a month they are being searched). Whilst keywords with high volumes are beneficial to use, the competition for them is high, so you’ll be up against more websites when being ranked on the SERP.
Look at your competitors
You can also analyze your competitors’ websites and identify the most commonly searched keywords for them. This will also enable you to see which keywords your competitors aren’t using, meaning if you use those keywords, you’re up against a lot less competition when being ranked.
Use your customer-base
Want to know what your customers are interested in? Why not just ask them. Ask your customer-facing colleagues what common questions and phrases do customers tend to say during their first contact. Pay close attention to your customers’ use of language, as this can be similar to what they are typing in the search engines.
Be the customer
Put yourself in the mind of your customer. What questions would you ask if you were researching about the product/service you promote? Search these yourself on Google and analyze the websites that come up, are they relevant to yours? If so, you know it’s a good keyword. You can then look at the ‘Related Searches’ section at the bottom of the Google page, which will give you more relevant keywords.
Identify the most effective and relevant keywords for your SEO strategy
Once you have a fairly extensive list of potential keywords/phrases, you want to narrow it down to the most relevant ones which are going to make your SEO strategy the most effective.
One of the ways to do this is to look at the monthly search volume of keywords using one of the website analytics software mentioned above. Whilst it’s good to go with keywords that have a high monthly search volume, you shouldn’t completely neglect the ones with low volume as these have less competition.
Google Trends can be useful to look at the future projections of these low-volume keywords. If the potential is good then they are worth investing in now so you’re ahead of the game and can reap the benefits in the near future.
It’s also important you choose a good mix of head terms and long-tail terms. Head terms are more generic and shorter and are searched more frequently. Whilst this is beneficial, it does mean that you’ll be competing with many other websites when ranked in SERPs.
Long-tail terms are longer and more specific. They will add longevity to your ranking in the SERPs and reduce your competition.
For example, if the head term was ‘social media marketing’, long-tail terms of this could be ‘what are the best strategies for social media marketing?’ or ‘how to create a social media marketing strategy for small businesses’ or ‘B2B marketing strategies on social media’. You can see here that the long-tail terms are more specific and so might be more relevant to what your business specifically offers.
Understand the intent of the keyword
What exactly does the customer want to know when they search that keyword/phrase? For example, if someone is searching ‘types of social media marketing?’ ensure the page on your website that comes up is relevant, informative, and answering the specific question for the customer as this will help it rank higher.
When Google ranks a website, the authority of the website holds a lot of weight, meaning the more informative, relevant, and helpful you can make your website content, the better.
For most small businesses, it’s advised to start with around 5-10 keywords. Review these frequently, as over time the authority of your website in the SERPs can increase, enabling you to add more keywords to your list whilst maintaining your rank position with the current ones.
How to incorporate keywords effectively into your online content
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of keywords, you then need to incorporate them into the content of your website. You should always ensure that the keyword is in the title of the website page and in other parts of the page (when relevant) such as the body content, URL, image text, etc. It’s important to not make it obvious that this was your intent i.e. don’t repeat a keyword a million times within one page of a website, as Google’s algorithm can pick up on this and penalize you!
Key takeaways to optimize your SEO strategy
Ensuring your keywords are relevant, specific to your audience, competitive and have the right intent for your business and the product/service you offer is crucial for SEO.
The next step you can take when optimizing your SEO strategy is to have a look at the layout of your web pages and the number of backlinks you have. Google likes a clear structure, so aim to have specific headings throughout the main text making it easy to understand and follow. Optimizing your backlinks is also crucial as this indicates to Google how trusted your website is by others, so the more you have, the better.
Ultimately, incorporating as many of these practices as possible will increase the chance of your website ranking high on SERPs when a customer is browsing for something that you can offer!