Keywords are a very important component of digital marketing as using the right keywords on your website help your customers find you. Unfortunately, many businesses take this practice too far and end up with keyword stuffing – which is a huge turn off for visitors and can even get your site blacklisted in Google.
At the end of the day, keywords are one tool in your marketing arsenal, but remember that your primary objective is to deliver relevant, captivating content for your customers not search engines. Here are the best ways to get the most out of keywords:
1. Research Before you even start developing content you have to gather data to help you determine which keywords are going to be of benefit to you. To get a complete picture you need to explore keywords from three angles:
Consider your niche and what you are going to be offering. Brainstorm as many keywords as you can that describe who you are. Make use of tools like Google Keyword Planner.
Next you need to have a look at the keywords used by your competitors. Chances are they’ll have some you missed. Try tools like SEMrush.
Now you need to look at what people are actually looking for when they search online. How close do your keywords and the keywords of your competitors match what people are actually looking for? A good tool to start with is Google Trends.
Once you have the big picture you need to prioritise, that is to target specific areas. You probably won’t be able to rank number #1 on Google for all your ideal search terms so you need to focus on relevance. Look for the areas where you are going to get the greatest success with the least amount of effort.
This might include: products and services that you specialise in, products and services that people are actively searching for online now (e.g. tissues and cough medicine during the Winter flu season), or areas of potential growth, particularly new and emerging products and services which are fresh and exciting and may not be marketed very well by your competition.
Do remember, that it can take a couple of months after you make changes to see the benefit in your search engine rankings so you will need to plan in advance.
3. Short and Long-tail Keywords Any successful strategy employing keywords is going to include both short and long-tailed keywords. They work in slightly different ways.
Long-tailed keywords are very specific and people searching for them are often close to purchasing. For example, a person looking for “best cushioning running shoes” may be looking for a suitable places to buy from.
On the other hand, searching short keywords suggests that they are still in the process of researching options. Extending the example above, a search for “running shoes” is more generic and implies that they haven’t yet found what they are looking for and are looking for advice.
Short-tailed keywords are often already heavily utilised by competitors so it is harder to achieve high rankings in search results, particularly if you’re up against a well-established industry leader with a solid reputation. Instead, consider focusing on those potential customers who haven’t yet made up their mind. Because long-tailed keywords are more generic, there’s more potential to be creative and cover all the different types of questions they might ask, especially if you use a FAQ page on your site.
4. Create your content Now that you’ve identified your target areas, you can begin to develop content. Remember, relevance is everything so you need to understand your customers.
If your potential customers are searching for specific answers, make sure your content gives them what they are looking for.
If you are marketing in an already saturated market try to be creative and develop content that offers a new take on it.
Can you take something “old” and make it “new and exciting”? Invest some time in developing relevant page titles and metadata for your content. While you’re at it, ensure all multimedia like videos and images have suitable ALT tags included. These do influence search rankings because search engine algorithms consider better formatted content to be of higher quality.
5. Analyse Once your content is online you’ll need to regularly analyse whether it is performing successfully. Make use of the metric tools provided by your host and search engines to see what is and is not working. Sometimes small tweaks to layout or wording can make big differences in traffic and conversions. Determine what is working and try to use that same formula on your under-performing pages. Useful sites to help with this are Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Gaining success online takes time. Don’t expect success overnight. One of the biggest factors is reputation and that means gaining credibility. The longer you have a presence, the better your chances of gaining quality exposure and ultimately conversions.