Google’s algorithm is complicated and with seemingly constant Penguin or Panda updates it is tempting to want to “do something” in response. But there’s no reason to be reactive. Those updates may get rolled out with fanfare and get lots of attention from the digital pundits, but the truth it, they tend to impact those who have been trying to game the system. Those who have been steadfast in their SEO efforts and stuck to all White Hat techniques and recommended best practices will come out ahead. That said – it’s never a bad idea to examine your keyword strategy to see if there are opportunities for improvement.
So why is developing a keyword strategy necessary? Search engine optimization is designed specifically around making it easier for internet users to locate information that is relevant to their search queries. Because Google’s search algorithm is not at the level of artificial intelligence (yet), one of the primary ways in which it is able to determine whether your website content is relevant when searched for is through the use of keywords.
So where do you begin to develop this killer keyword strategy? Here are three easy steps you can take to make your content more SEO friendly:
Keyword Strategy Step 1: Find out What Keywords Your Target Customers are Using
Once you have identified your target customers, figure out what keywords those customers are using when searching for your product or service. You can do this through some paid and free online keyword tools (see Google’s free keyword tool). Once you have a long list of keywords that are both loosely and highly relevant to your target customers’ searches, select the ones that are generating the most relevant traffic. Refine your list and prioritize those keywords that are getting the most searches and are (relatively) less competitive.
Be specific – the more specific the keyword, the more likely the traffic to be relevant to what you’re offering. If you’re selling “blue suede shoes”, use that keyword, don’t broadly target all shoes or you’re likely to lose in the SERP wars to shoe giant Zappo’s. There are multiple free online tools that can help you do that (stay tuned for a future blog post in which we’ll go over those tools and how to use them) Once you’ve got a good working list, you can now begin to create your content using those keywords.
It’s very important to know how to engage your target audience, but the truth is, if you aren’t including the words and phrases your target customers are using and searching for, they won’t find you in the first place. However, it’s important that you don’t let your content be dictated by keywords. Don’t let your content suffer in order to add one more keyword. Write for humans first, for robots second.
Keyword Strategy Step 2: Figure out the Best Placements for the Keywords
Once you’ve figured out which keywords to target, where should they go in your content? Beyond including the keywords you’ve targeted within the body of your content, the placement of these keywords in titles, title tags, meta descriptions, etc., is critical. Check out SEOMoz for some really helpful information on keyword placement.
Reusing your blog content is a great way to keep a steady flow of content on your blog, but it also gives you an opportunity to tweak titles, tags, descriptions etc. to see which keyword placement strategies work best for your site.
Keyword Strategy Step 3: Remember, Keyword Research is Never Over
Languages are always changing to incorporate new words, ideas, meanings and this is especially true with the language we use online. For example, pretend you’re running a website for a bank and last month people were searching for e-Banking, yet this month they are searching for eBanking at an exponentially higher rate. Consider also the audience that you are targeting. Will your target audience be searching for “catalogue” or “catalog”? Are they an older demographic likely to use a particular spelling that may have evolved? Your audience’s generation may not be up and up on the latest spelling and usage as featured in Urban Dictionary.
Make sure that you are staying aware of the different terminology and specifically keywords and keyword phrases used to search for your products, they do change.
It’s important that you not only execute all of these steps when carrying out a keyword strategy, but that you are also tracking and measuring how taking these steps are affecting your traffic, and make improvements to the strategy based on those metrics.
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