Maybe one of our team members built your website or perhaps they didn’t. If Cyberpunk built your website, we already set you up with a strong foundation upon which to manage your search engine marketing campaigns. If you hired someone else to design your website, then you may still need a little help to take advantage of a fully-operational keyword strategy.
Before you can begin mapping out your keyword strategy, you will want to make sure that you have a strong grasp of SEO basics. If you think your website is primed for an infusion of content, then you can begin to analyze keywords and identify new marketing opportunities for your business.
The good news is that in 2016, you don’t have to waste time and money guessing which keywords will lead customers to you website. In fact, just guessing which search terms are the best for your business will lead you down a very dangerous and expensive path. We put together this simple framework to get you started on designing an effective keyword strategy to make your life a little less complicated.
It is important to emphasize that there is no universal keyword strategy that works for small businesses, or even for competitors in the same marketplace. Each business should have a strong familiarity with the customers that it already has and those that it would like to attract via through search engines. To be effective, every website owner or digital marketer should be able to identify the right keywords, build a content strategy around them, and be familiar with the essential tools of the trade.
Who Needs a Keyword Strategy?
Every small business could benefit from having a keyword strategy. Let’s imagine that we run a pet store in Connecticut.
Some helpful assumptions we can make about our potential customers:
- Connecticut is a small state and search volume will be relatively low
- Most of our customers will come from towns near the pet store, rather than coming from within the same community or from far out of state
- Pet owners are typically focused on the specific pet(s) they already own
- People in CT are more likely to be well educated, earn more money, and have easy access to the internet
Identify the Right Keywords
After you’ve developed a basic understanding of you audience, you will be able to narrow down the right keywords to help you connect with your customers. Your keywords essentially help to summarize your content for search engines, which means that the keywords you choose are only as valuable as the content they describe.
The process is simple: We run a Pet Store, and should focus on identifying keywords that are related to Pet Stores.
- Pet Supplies
- Pet Toys
- Organic Dog Food
- Pet Store in CT
In general, you want to optimize for a mixture of broad search terms on a handful of pages and then look for specific terms on other pages, posts, or articles. As a Pet Store, we want search engines to know what the primary purpose of our business is – being a “pet shop,” selling “pet supplies,” etc. – and we want Google, Yahoo, and Bing to understand unique characteristics about out pet shop – our location in Connecticut, any areas of expertise or passion, or specific brands we carry.
It is easy to get carried away with trying to utilize keywords, so always remember to keep them simple and related to the core of your business and the interests of your customers.
These would not be good keywords:
- Exclusive organic pet supplies and toys
- Store for organic and exclusive pet toys and supplies
Another approach is to focus on finding what are known as “long tail keywords.” These are search terms that often have lower overall search volume per term, but have low competition, and account for approximately 70% of all searches. Long tail keywords are phrases like “best pet store in Connecticut,” but can take many forms. Here is a chart that shows the distribution of keywords, but that uses a law firm as an example.
The best idea is to find the keywords and keyword phrases that are likely to lead potential customers to your content. Poor keyword choice will both make it difficult for people to find your business online and will inevitably allow your competitors to be more successful.
Build a Content Strategy Around the Keywords
After you have selected the keywords you would like to target you can begin to devise plan for how to use them to expand your digital footprint.
Some keywords will best be used for your core content like your “about” page, and some will be used for targeted landing pages, while others will make more sense in blog posts. Configuring your web presence (website, social media, directories, and articles) to take advantage of the right keywords to effectively inform search engines what your business does or what products it has to offer is a vital component of any keyword strategy.
Keywords are used in the content that your customers consume, and they’re used to describe different elements of the content to search engine crawlers, which look for meta titles, descriptions, alt titles, anchor text, and more. In addition, you have to serve both of these audiences the same essential content. You want to avoid stacking keywords – overusing the keywords for which you want to rank – in the text. “If a person will have trouble understanding a rambling, incoherent jumble of words on your website, then so will a search engine.”
In addition, search engines have eyeballs that they can use to scan your page (…yet). Search engines rank the value of your content and relevance of your keywords according to how completely they illustrate key concepts related to the page’s keyword. A human can scan a blog post about the new products at your pet store and see photos of the new inventory. However, a search engine crawler will need to read titles and descriptions to identify if content such as photos exist in the blog post.
A strong keyword strategy will naturally integrate your keywords into content across your website. In the earlier days of Search Engine Marketing, the optimal word count was around 500. However, recent evidence from Backlinko shows that “the average first page Google result contained 1,890 words.” If you were to maintain an appropriate keyword density – the number of times your keyword appears on the page compared to the overall number of words – of about 2%, that would mean you could naturally use your target keyword about 38 times before a search engine might consider you to be keyword stuffing.
There are many free and paid tools to help you with keyword planning and with developing a keyword strategy. They have been designed and are maintained by experts in the field and bring together the data you need to be successful with SEO. Typically, anyone managing an SEO campaign will utilize multiple tools.
Google offers a completely free keyword planner tool to anyone with an Adwords account. Even if you don’t plan on using paid search, you can use this tool to get helpful keyword suggestions, preview search volume, find synonyms, test for specific geographic areas, and more.
Some other tools you might consider are listed below. Many offer free components, but are most useful with a subscription.
Market Samurai is a paid tool that provides more than simple keyword research. You can use it for domain research, monetization, finding content and publishing content and many other things. There is a free trial version so you can test the tool before you buy it.
SEMrush is a tool that can be used by both beginners and experts in this field thanks to its simple and intuitive user interface. Besides the analysis of keyword phrases and keywords, you can also use SEMrush to analyze the keywords use by your competitors.
Moz.com offers far too many options to explain here, but their services have a lot of value added to them by the content that MOZ offers through their website and SEO courses. They also offer the free toolbar to help you analyze individual pages and domains.
You might also consider:
Keep in mind that before making an investment in any of these services, that they can’t help you understand your customers. Your business experience needs to serve as your compass for success with developing a keyword strategy.
Designing an effective keyword strategy is a time-consuming task that will eventually pay off, ultimately reducing your marketing budget and helping you find new customers. Keep in mind, your strategy will always need to be tweaked to meet the evolving requirements of search engines. If it ever starts to become overwhelming, you can always contact one of our experts to guide you through the process.
Here is a video explaining a little more about keywords.