If your business website ranks highly in the search engines, you’re golden. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to dedicate some significant digital marketing resources to search engine optimization (SEO). A big part of this involves keyword research and then using the terms you select properly.
Research shows that 95 percent of web searchers only look at the first page of search results. Further, half of the clicks on that page get swallowed up by the first three results. So, how do you get your brand’s website into these coveted spots? It’s not an overnight job, but it certainly can be done with the right strategy.
Here are some proven steps for finding and then using the right keywords for your digital content.
Step 1: Establish Your Foundation
Before you start looking for keywords, your business should take stock of its online presence. Specifically, do you have a strong website that is responsive, engaging, and high-performing? If you don’t, you need to create this groundwork.
Another useful thing is to have your own network that will allow you to share content. Having a website plus a blog, Facebook page, and Google My Business profile are a good start.
Step 2: Perform Keyword Research
Most businesses have a few keywords and phrases in mind for which they’d like to rank. Don’t leave this vital decision up to gut instinct. You’ll want to verify your choices by using different keyword tools to get a better sense of the monthly search volume and the competition.
You can research keywords with free tools like Google Keyword Planner, Moz Explorer, and WordStream. As a general rule, you’ll want to target a keyword that has enough search volume to make it worth your effort but one that's not too competitive. For example, it would be next to impossible to rank for terms like “jobs” or “travel.” More realistic choices would be something like “cybersecurity careers” and “budget travel tips.”
This is also a good time to make extensive lists of related keywords and phrases that you can target and include in your content. You can get this from those free keyword tools, and there are a few other tricks to try as well. Enter your main keyword phrase in Google. As you type, the search engine will have suggestions “drop down” from the box. Take note of these. Also, scroll to the bottom of the search results page and see the list of related phrases that people “also search for.”
Step 3: Check Out the Competition
Once you have your keyword list, enter each one in Google to see who is ranking well for it. See how your competitors are achieving their rankings. Do they have the keyword in their domain name, title, or incorporated throughout the content? You’ll need to do better than this to outrank them.
Step 4: Gauge the Searcher’s Intent
SEO has evolved over the past decade, and one of the things that Google now emphasizes is giving favor to sites that match the user’s intent. After all, people use a search engine to get an answer or solve a problem. So, if your content and SEO match the intent of the user, or give them what they need, it should rank higher.
Instead of just taking keywords and phrases at face value, look beyond them to their meaning. Let’s assume the phrase you are targeting is “how to get rid of a virus.” Do you mean a computer virus or a physical illness? If a computer virus, are you recommending software solutions or something more technical? Once you answer these questions, you can shape your content strategy to meet the needs of the audience that is searching for this phrase with a specific intent.
Step 5: Map Out Your Content
Now, it’s time to think about your website content that is going to help you rank for your chosen keyword. You have lots of choices:
- Blog posts
- Product pages
- White papers
Create an outline for your content and decide how it will be created. Will you do this in-house or outsource it? While anyone can create a blog post or website page, the SEO part of the equation might be more challenging.
Step 6: Create Optimized Content
Even if you have a piece of content you’d like to post, effective SEO involves much more than just jamming that keyword into your post, video, or infographics. In fact, keyword stuffing is a terrible idea and is likely to harm your efforts instead of helping them.
When you optimize content for SEO, you’ll want to include your targeted keywords or closely related ones in:
- Page Titles - This is your post or page title that shows up in search engine results.
- Meta Descriptions - This is a brief description of your content that also shows up in search engine results.
- Subheadings - These are H2 and H3 subheads within your content that also make it scannable and more readable.
- Content - The body of your content should have some versions of your keyword.
- Images - Images should be relevant to the content, with keywords in titles and alt text.
- URLs - Include your keyword phrase in the URL of your content. For example - “www:yoursite.com/blog/top-ten-budget-travel-tips.html.”
- Link anchor text - You should vary your anchor text for links, but links should be relevant to the content and your keyword phrase.
Step 7: Promote Your Content
Once you’ve published your content, you’ve only fought about two-thirds of the battle. The next step is to get that content in front of as many people as possible. Share it on your social media accounts and make sure that others can share it by including social buttons at the top of the page. Also, build some relevant links to your page to give it some additional authority.
Step 8: Evaluate and Adjust
Nothing you do online is a one-and-done deal. You’ll need to continually evaluate your results and make adjustments where needed. Use your marketing analytics tool of choice to track conversions and see which keywords are bringing in visitors. Figure out what's working and what is missing the mark before you start your next round.
These steps might seem like a tall order for even the most tech-savvy business, but you don’t have to do this alone. You’ll get the best results by partnering with a digital marketing company that has proven programs in place to increase your organic visibility through a strong online presence, the right content, and the proper mix of on-page and off-page SEO.
Contact us today to learn more about Connection Model’s results-driven services.
Written By: Doug Milnor