Keywords are Essential for Search Engine Optimization

Posted by Kathryn Cartini on Jan 10, 2016 5:04:09 PM

Research Keywords as a Search Engine Optimization Technique to Increase Website Traffic

There are many factors that search engines take into account when crawling and trying to understand your web pages. In this blog we’ll explore best practices associated with an awesome Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy using keywords.

The first element to focus on is the use of keywords.

This is called on-page SEO (optimizing the pages of your site). Specific words are typed into search engines. These are the topics searchers are trying to learn more about.

In order to attract online users to your website, you need to do research to figure out what primary words relate to your business and industry. This research should always begin with your Buyer Personas.

Buyer Personas represent your ideal customer or client. They are fictitious characters that translate into new website visitors, leads, buyers and promoters of your brand. Because of this it’s important to determine who they are, what their goals are and what problems you can solve for them so you can start understanding what they’re searching for.

Now, make a list of keywords your Buyer Personas would search for.

Smartypans_Facebook_pic.jpgLet’s say your business makes a smart cooking pan that includes a mobile app that tracks nutrition information and syncs to fitness apps like FitBit. And let’s say one of your Buyer Personas is a personal trainer named Smarty Fit. If Smarty doesn’t have time to research and log her caloric intake, she has a problem. What are the common industry questions Smarty might ask? She might start looking for general industry knowledge by searching for, “How can I keep track of the calories in my food?”

Next, what questions might Smarty have that this company provides solutions for? She might not know to search for the company’s exact product, but she might search for, “devices that measure calories by ingredients.”

Finally, what questions might Smarty have when deciding to buy the smart cooking pan? She might search for, “Smart cooking supply reviews.” This is a great opportunity to gather information from your sales team, including the most common questions they get when speaking to potential customers.

If the startup doesn’t have a sales team just yet, this research will be part of the Customer Discovery Process or Go-to-Market Strategy. It involves surveying at least a hundred prospects and industry influencers. By going through this thought process, their answers will reveal a list of keywords like, “tracking calories,” “smart cooking devices,” and “smart cooking appliance reviews.”

As you make this list, categorize the keywords by the stages of the Buyer’s Journey that they fall into.

Categorize Keywrods by the Stages of the Buyer's Journey

Industry, problem-based keywords are part of the Awareness stage. Keywords that your company provides solutions to are belong in the Consideration stage. And keywords around deciding to buy are part of the Decision stage.

TIP: Try to mimic the language that your Buyer Personas would use in their searchers, keeping in mind that language may vary in different regions or countries.

Still questioning what keywords to use? Search the web for alternatives!

Search Google for Keyword Alternatives

In this example, we found when you search for the topic “track calories” in Google, it autocompletes for other popular keyword phrases like, “track calories app.”

You can also search for alternatives under the different search options in Google, like Image search or Video search.

Use Keywords to Rank in Google Video Search Results

Here you can see by looking on Video search, "Should You Track Calories from Vegetables" ranks in the top two video searchers for “track calories.”

Add all of the alternatives that relate to your business and Buyer Personas to your list of keywords.  

It’s time to determine which keywords people are already using to find your website.

This is tricky since some search engines, like Google, have encrypted their organic search data so that those keywords are hidden. But you can still use an analytics tools such as Google Webmaster or HubSpot Sources to get some insight.

Finally, decide which keywords you have the best opportunity to rank for.

Remember, lot’s of other websites are trying to make it into the top three organic search result spots, and some keywords are undoubtedly going to be harder to rank for than others.

Think about it. What happens if you search for the keyword, “startups.” You’ll come up with a whole bunch of options ranging from news articles, to startup events and incubators. Only the biggest companies with the most search authority will come out on top of those results.

A keyword like “startups” is referred to as a short or broad keyword - because that’s exactly what it is. It’s very difficult to rank for a keyword so broad in scope because there’s a lot of competition around it. A startup using this keyword in their Content Marketing Strategy likely wouldn’t have a chance at beating out the top companies focused on such a general topic.

But let’s say you focus on something more descriptive like, “best startup resources in Upstate New York.” You’d now get more specific results that better answer your questions. This more specific keyword phrase is called a long-tail keyword. It’s significantly easier to rank for because it’s more targeted. The people searching for this keyword phrase know what they’re looking for, meaning they are more qualified visitors who are more likely to turn into leads and customers.

It’s important to note that just because you’re selecting a long-tail keyword, it doesn’t mean ranking on the first page of Google search results will be easy. It’s critical to understand how difficult it is to rank for any keyword, regardless of rank. If you’re an Inbound Marketer, you should set this expectation with your clients prior to beginning an Inbound Marketing campaign.

To best accomplish your goal of getting your website on top of Google search results, you’ll need to drill down into your keyword analytics. This involves researching the current ranking for your desired long-tail keyword and how often people are searching for it.

If you’re using a tool like Google Analytics or HubSpot Keywords, you can also see what the level of competition is like for that keyword.

TIP: Aim for keywords with a high search volume and low competition.

NEXT -> Start Creating Content Around Your Keywords

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Topics: Blogging, Inbound Marketing, SEO, Lead Generation