Search Engine Optimization is a very important factor to consider when marketing your business on the web. We could spend days talking about the different practices and pieces of an effective marketing plan for any business, but today we are going to focus on keywords. More specifically, the research done at the beginning of any SEO effort to decide which keywords a company should target.
• What are our customers searching for to find our company or our competitors?
• Which keyword did people search for the most last month?
• Is this term going to produce more or less traffic then another?
These are all questions that one should ask themselves when beginning to write content for their website, and keyword research should be your first step.
Whether you are starting a new site from scratch, and need loads of content to be written, or you are doing some on-page optimization for your existing website, and only need a couple paragraphs, keyword research is something that will help you out tremendously. While it may seem like a daunting task, it is a necessity if you’d like to keep up with your competitors. I will explain the basics of keyword research and also some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that you should follow in this week’s blog post.
While it may seem like the obvious starting point, some people overlook it and automatically assume they know which keywords they should be using. Maybe once in a while you’ll get lucky and choose some keywords that work very well without putting that much thought into it, but this is almost never the case.
Before writing content, you should always sit down and think about which terms you will use. Think about who will be reading the content and how they will find it. A couple good questions to ask yourself in this brainstorming phase are as follows:
• Who will be reading this content? (Age, gender, income, etc.)
Quite possibly the most mentioned rule of SEO: “Keep the reader in mind”. The terms you are using depends entirely on your audience. If your audience isn’t very technical and may not know what a given keyword means, there’s no sense in even including that term, let alone stuffing it into a page 6 or 7 times. Keeping in mind who your targeted audience is will help you write much better content that they will understand.
• How will my audience find this content?
Think about the exact search terms your prospective visitors may use when looking for your product or brand. If you don’t use these terms when writing content, how will the users ever find it?
After you have your list of keywords that you brainstormed, the next logical step would be to perform some research on them. First, you want to find out if the terms that you have brainstormed are being searched for, and if they are competitive or not. A good free online tool to use when researching is the Google AdWords: Keyword Tool. This nifty tool provided by Google lets you enter terms and provides you with a list of keywords related to this, and how much they have been searched for on a local and global level on a monthly basis. You can even put your web address in here if you already have an existing site and it will show you recommended keywords for that website. Using this tool, you can discover which terms are searched for the most, and change your list accordingly. You may find that people have been searching for the service you offer, but referring to it as something different, and you can change your keyword list based on this information.
Once you have your list narrowed down to terms that you believe are popular in search results, you should then check how competitive they are. Using the Google Keyword Tool, you can discover the rank Google gives each keyword or keyword phrase based on their competitiveness (either Low, Medium, or High). You also want to check the local and global monthly searches on the terms you’ve chosen and make sure you’re not picking keywords that are extremely competitive, because your content may never get noticed.
Once you have your list narrowed down to terms that you are sure people are searching for, and aren’t highly competitive, you are ready to begin writing content. Like I stated earlier – KEEP YOUR READER IN MIND. This is the most repeated tip for SEO, and there’s a reason. Don’t ever write content just to fit a keyword in it as many times as possible. This is called “Keyword Stuffing”, and search engines like Google recognize it, and will penalize you for it. Try to include as many of your targeted terms in your content while still keeping it readable for your visitors.
“CompanyName is a skateboard company. We produce quality skateboards and carry many different brands at our Skateboard Shop, including Element Skateboards, Birdhouse Skateboards, etc. Our Skateboard shop is located at blah blah blah blahh”
The above sentence is terrible. Obviously the keyword the writer is trying to target is “Skateboards”, but any reader would think a 3rd grader wrote this, and probably wouldn’t hold the site in high credibility.
“CompanyName is a skateboard company. We produce quality boards and carry mare different brands at our Shop, including Element, Birdhouse, and more. Our Skate-Shop is located in Los Angelos, California.”
This looks much better. It is easily readable and you don’t feel like someone is jamming keywords in your face. In my opinion, it looks more trustworthy too. I’d think any user would be much more likely to use a company that wrote content like this, over the first example.