Let’s talk about keywords. You know, those words or phrases people type into search engines when they are looking for information? In addition to helping people find your website, keywords also communicate to people what your website is about. So if they’re typing it into Google, and your website is coming up, hopefully, a positive connection has been made. If your website is not coming up, read on for some things you can do to help.
People searching the web type the problem they have or information they need (keywords!) into the search engine, so you want your website content to match the words and phrases they use as closely as possible. Therefore, it’s critical to understand how your audience is searching for the service you offer. Now, search engine optimization is far more than just matching keywords, but that’s another blog post.
Getting started: Here’s how you can begin implementing a keyword strategy for your website:
- Research: Figure out who your audience is and what problems and questions they have.
- Brainstorm: Develop a list of keywords based on what you think your audience is searching. It’s great to work with a small team on this; the variety of perspectives will result in a better-rounded list.
- Explore: Check out what keywords bring up your competitors’ website, and consider adding some of those to your mix.
- Review: Do an audit of your existing website copy to see where you can modify it to include the keywords you want to rank for. (See Important Caveat below!)
Important Caveat! When integrating keywords with your website copy, think quality, not quantity. Forcing keywords into your copy (also called “stuffing”) does not help your readers, and Google doesn’t like it, either. Think of it like this: Google is the most-used search engine because it does the best job of helping us find the information we need. Google continually monitors and adjusts to ensure the websites it pulls up for a given search are the most relevant and useful to the end-users. A website clearly stuffed full of keywords to get a ranking is not as helpful to the end-user as a site with compelling content that addresses the searcher’s question or problem.
With that said, in addition to page copy, other good places to add keywords to your website can be headings, page titles and descriptions, and even URLs.
Mistakes to Avoid:
- Misunderstanding your customer. This is why research is so important. Your strategy must be based around search terms your customers are actually using, not what you think they are using.
- Standing still. Periodically modify your strategy based on analysis, results and evolving goals.
- Being vague. The more specific your keywords, the more likely they are to bring quality traffic actually seeking your services to your website. Ranking for a more general keyword doesn’t do your business any good if people are leaving your site (“bouncing”) as soon as they get there, because you don’t have what they are looking for. (A high bounce rate can hurt your search rankings, too, so you’ll want to pay attention to that.)
- Forgetting local search. This ties into being specific with your keywords. Location has an important role in your keyword strategy.
Here are some of our favorite keyword tools:
- Google Keyword Planner: Offers a wealth of information including search volume and approximate cost per word when setting up a pay-per-click (PPC) account. You can also see common variations of keywords, which is helpful if you are looking for more ideas. The cost is free, but you must have a Google Adwords account.
- SEMrush: Very powerful – gives lots of statistics and information on either your site or your competitors’ sites. It’s also a complete analytics suite, which is great for a small to medium-sized company. The cost varies by package.
- Keyword Tool: Similar to Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool gives you common variations, search volume, cost-per-click and competition scores, and can break lists down by different search engines, and even the App Store. It’s simple to use, and the cost varies by package.
- Übersuggest: Similar to Keyword Tool, Übersuggest gives an alphabetical list of common variations on a keyword. You can use different languages and different mediums like images, video and even recipes. Cost is free!
Hubspot also has a great keyword primer that is definitely worth a read.
Do you have other keyword strategy tools that are working well for you? Tell us about them!