SEO, or Search Engine Optimization (and seo keyword research) is the number one most important thing you need to do for your business or product. Just like visible, corner shops in high traffic areas are prime real estate, the right SEO is the difference between putting your business in a great location or a shady back alley.
No one is going to that back alley.
Doing business online is great because it means you have access to the millions of people who are constantly connected. Regardless of how niche you might be, there is no shortage of potential customers. But they have to know you exist.
“The best way to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google”
Because it’s so easy to put up a website or sell a product online these days, you can’t just expect that your perfect customers are just going to walk through your virtual door. There are dozens, if not thousands, of people online offering products and services. And because there are so many customers online aren’t going to waste their time digging, especially when they know that anywhere on that first page of results is going to be someone or something that can deliver exactly what they need.
Can they do it as good as you?
That’s up for debate. But that’s also not the point.
People online are busy. They are literally on-the-go, phone in hand, and they don’t have any time to waste. If they don’t find you within the first few seconds of their search, they will never find you.
While everyone online is technically “in the game”, the reality is that really only those websites, products, people, or services that rank well are in competition. And, once you’re in that cream of the crop top when it comes to ranking, the competition isn’t really that stiff; there is more than enough to go around.
So how do you get to the top? How do you knock everyone else out of the competition and cut a slice of the proverbial pie for yourself? How do you cement yourself in a position of authority within your respective niche?
The answer is SEO.
Now, you may have gotten this far knowing that SEO is important. Great. But how do you do SEO and how do you do it well?
While everyone has their own “secrets”, the truth is that great SEO just takes a bit of knowledge and some elbow grease. Below is the foundation you need to master the game of SEO. Follow each step — don’t skip any — and see the results, literally.
1. Seed Keywords Are A Must for SEO Keyword Research
Seed keywords are the big ones that all other keywords stem from. You can think of them like the patriarchs of the keyword family. By learning what your seed keywords are (which is usually pretty simple — like your product or service name), you have something to base all the rest of your SEO research off of.
2. Do Some Keyword Brainstorming
First sit down, either yourself or with your team, and brainstorm all of the keywords you can think of that can come from these “seeds”. As the word “brainstorming” implies, everything you think of is potentially a winner. Try to get in the mind of your customer or audience here. What would they search for in order to find you? If pulling up a Google or Amazon search bar helps get you in the right mindset, do it. What naturally comes up is important to take note of. If you already have a product or business online, take some time to see what you are already ranking for. Which keywords are you organically associated with? This will give you insight and help to guide you as you continue to do your SEO research.
3. Study Your Competition
A lot of times you can tell which keywords your competition is using by simply snooping around their website or listing. Which words or phrases apply to their business or service? These are keywords you need to be aware of, especially if your competition is beating you in SEO ranking. You can use the tool Site Explorer to easily see which websites are ranking for which keywords. Doing this research on every competitor on page one of search results will give you almost too much information, however. For really targeted research and a solid foundation for building the SEO you need to compete, look at the keyword results for specific pages on their websites, preferably those that perform the best. And remember that you don’t need to only look at competitors that are doing exactly what you are doing. Many times you can rank for a keyword that is slightly different but that still brings a targeted or interested audience in front of you. For example, ranking your lawn mowing service for a keyword search like “How to Be A Good Homeowner” can be fruitful.
4. Use Research Tools Available
Don’t do more work than is necessary. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here. For every niche, whether Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc., there are research tools you can use to discover keywords and other data for SEO. Some of these research tools are free to use, while others require a fee, typically just one-time although some will require monthly. These tools are vital and invaluable. They can literally take hours of impossible research and deliver you results in seconds. If you have the budget to invest here, do it. These tools not only make research easier, but they also give you an edge over the competition as you can get keyword ideas that possibly none of your competition is using. These gold nuggets, the undiscovered, underused keywords in your niche, can help you pull in customers that no one else is getting. Google Trends is a great free tool you can use to help you in your SEO research.
5. Beef Up On Your SEO Vocabulary
As you dive deeper into the world of SEO, you’ll discover that there are certain terms and acronyms that come up again and again. Familiarize yourself with this lingo so you can understand the results you get from tools as well as the advice you get in mastermind or other high-level conversations. Here are a few you should know just to get your study session off on the right foot:
• Search Volume
This is the search demand for any given keyword. Or, another way to think of it is how many times people enter this exact word or phrase into Google or Amazon. You’ll see search volumes as MSV (monthly) and DSV (daily), sometimes even YSV or ASV (yearly or annually, respectively).
This sometimes overlooked piece of information is vital when it comes to properly doing SEO. “Clicks” can tell you how many of the people who searched for the keyword (search volume) actually clicked on the results. If you don’t consider this piece, you can be mislead to think that something is a great keyword because it has a lot of volume, but then never see any results — even if you are ranking well.
• Keyword Difficulty
Is your “perfect” keyword impossible to rank for? The keyword difficulty tells you how hard it will be to rank your product or service. While all tools have different ways of calculating this (and it’s something you should look at), the truth is that a lot of the time you just know. Will it be easy to rank on Google for “ice cream”? Probably not.
• Cost Per Click
Content marketing with SEO utilizes this, which is also known as CPC. When you are advertising on Google, Amazon, or other platforms, it costs money. Choosing your keywords based on CPC can help you from blowing all of your budget. If you’re new to CPC, basically anytime someone clicks on your ad (which you’ve set up based on SEO keyword research), you owe money. If the CPC is high but the conversion on your page is low, then your advertising in the wrong place.
• Head Terms
Less than three words, head terms are more generic searches. While you might not invest too much in these terms (their competitive and broad), they can be a great jumping off point for your SEO research.
• Long Tail Keywords
Long Tail Keywords are really phrases, typically three words or longer, that count as a keyword or, more appropriately, a “keyphrase”. While these keywords tend to have lower search volume, they have higher clicks and lower keyword difficulty, making them an important piece to your SEO strategy.
6. Get Organized
Take all of the information and data you’ve gathered and organize it logically. Most of the time, this means putting all of your SEO info (if you haven’t already done this) into a spreadsheet. You’ll want columns that show keywords, variations, MSV (Monthly Search Volume), etc. You can get really deep into this or keep it simple. The most important thing is to make sure that your method of organization makes sense to you and any of your teammates that need to use this information. Here are some grouping ideas to help get you started:
• Parent Topic
These are the keywords with the highest search volume on each page.
This helps you group keywords by what you think the audience is searching for. If we go back to the lawn mowing company, you could have a group with the intent of having their lawn mown and another that is looking to buy lawn mowers and another that is looking for tips on how to take care of their new home.
Here you can also consider “accidental” results. If someone searches “lawn cut” and they get results about being cut by a lawn mower, this is probably irrelevant to what they were searching for.
Which keywords will give your company the best chance at converting views into sales?
While you might be able to rank for “how to take care of your home”, how many of those searches actually want a lawn mowing service? Ranking for “best lawn mowing service in Phoenix”, however, would be more valuable to your business — that is of course if you are a lawn mowing company in Phoenix.
7. Plan Strategically For The Best ROI
At the end of all of your SEO research, you’ll be left with hundreds, if not more, keywords. And, no, you shouldn’t use all of them. Instead, analyze your results and see which ones will give you the best ROI (Return on Investment).
Especially when you are paying for advertising based off of keywords (like CPA or CPC ads), you need to make sure that you aren’t throwing your money down the drain.
Before you choose which keywords to advertise on, check out the competition. Is it too competitive to risk? Is it not competitive enough to get results?
The ROI of every keyword needs to be considered in order to do effective content marketing. Great ranks for keywords that bring you no money are pointless. Every keyword you advertise on needs to be targeted for high traffic, tough but not impossible competition, and conversions.
“Today, it’s not about ‘get the traffic’ — it’s about ‘get the targeted and relevant traffic.’” — Adam Audette
Content marketing based on SEO ranking is a proven method for success. Search engines speak their own language and, in order to be found online, your website and the pages that comprise it, need to speak the same language. The best copy in the world can’t magically materialize people to your sales page. Below is an infographic to help you to understand the main ranking factors for SEO:
It’s crucial to remember that you cannot do SEO research once and call it quits. A website, page, or product that was perfectly optimized last year can quickly lose its spot among the top results.
SEO is a constantly changing game, partly because of constantly changing algorithms (thanks for keeping us on our toes, Google!) In order to play it right and to compete, you need to be researching and updating regularly. You cannot effectively market if you are using old SEO data.
Once you have done your SEO research, you, of course, need to use it. And there are a million ways to use it! Among some of the most effective, such as CPC ads, you can also create content and web pages specific to keywords and keyword groups. Utilizing a blog or crafting FAQ pages are fantastic ways to incorporate smart SEO naturally into your website.
But remember, you must always come across as valuable. If someone hits your page thinking they will have their question answered only to discover it’s just a tricky way to try to sell them something, they will not only not want to buy it, but they are likely to never come back.
Trust, even in SEO, is everything.
“Google loves you when everyone else loves you first.” — Wendy Piersall
Unless you are a big enough brand for people to search for by name, you need to utilize knowledge to improve your SEO. Your brand and your business rely on it.
N.B: This article originally appeared on Philip Moses’ blog.
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