They say content is king, but how can you expect your content to find customers and resonate with your target audience without the right words. Keywords are an integral part of your online offering; with the right keywords in place your website and its content will be an unstoppable force and gather the high quality leads that everyone with a web presence desires.
So what is a keyword?
In the context of search engine optimisation, a keyword is a particular word or phrase that describes not just the contents of a web page but targets the product or service, industry, or ethos that is essential to your business. Keywords play vital roles in the function of search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. These search engines crawl websites probing for such snippets and if the keywords they find are accurate, you’ll chart highly in the search results when these keywords or phrases are entered by internet users.
While there are numerous factors that affect SEO success, keywords and phrases are integral to all and have a primary role in the entire process. The success of various techniques, including link building, SEO submission, website optimisation, content writing, keyword research, website analysis and reporting, are all dependent on the discovery and use of the right keywords.
In this in-depth how-to guide, we will help you choose and implement the right keywords for your business and gain the high quality traffic your website deserves.
Think about your audience
When devising any online marketing, PPC, advertising or SEO strategy, your target audience should be the primary motivator. The same theory applies when selecting keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business and its core objectives. The aim of the game in search engine optimisation is to make your website rank for the words and phrases that your target audience searches for. However, creating content that captures the attention of your customers and is well received by the all-powerful search engines isn’t easy.
Begin by determining your ideal customer – are they young or old? Male or female? Is their education, occupation or business a defining factor when it comes to the purchase of the products or services that you are offering? Does their income or financial situation matter? Once you have defined your ideal customer, think about the words and phrases that they might use to find your business and its products or services. The mistake many businesses make during the keyword selection phase is to use jargon that only they or fellow industry experts might use.
Developing and utilising buyer personas is a great way to keep your focus not just in the keyword selection process but in all areas of media planning, including marketing, sales, services and product. These personas act as general and fictional representations of your ideal customers. Depending on your target market, audience and business, you can have as many or as little personas as you like. Some businesses even have as many as 20 buyer personas! The key is to start small however, and to base your buyer personas on market research and real customer insights gathered through surveys and interviews. From their background and core demographics (i.e. gender, age, income, location etc.) to more complex, key identifiers such as their demeanour and communication preferences, your buyer persona will help you understand the person or people that you are looking to target every day at work and tailor your messages and associated keywords accordingly.
Go long tail
In the spirit of keeping things simple, long tail keywords are often overlooked by many during keyword selection and further SEO planning. However, despite their complexity, long tail keywords are actually much easier to rank for. Internet users who utilise long tail keywords during the search process are more likely to become buyers according to a recent article written by keyword research tool Wordtracker. Research has shown that people who use long tail keywords are much further along in the buying process, and are effectively almost ready or even ready to head to the checkout.
Long tail keywords are highly specific phrases containing multiple words, preferably three words or more. Five words or more is the Holy Grail when it comes to the use of long tail keywords in search, a far cry from the short tail single keywords or double word phrases.
The more targeted your keywords and key phrases are, the better you are likely to rank. Long tail keywords give you plenty of room to manoeuvre when working through your personas to determine suitable and specific buying terms. Specialising when writing your content is the key to effective long tail keyword targeting and optimisation.
Optimising your website is a balancing act, as whilst you will want to reach out to browsing customers, going more specific with your keywords to target serious buyers who know exactly what they are looking for is important. Take this example for instance – if your business sells tablets, you may be tempted to generalise with articles and web content about ‘how to choose the right tablet’, ‘the benefits of owning a tablet’ or ‘laptop versus tablet: which is better?’. By going long tail and focusing on specific makes and models of tablet you can catch the eyes of customers who have already decided that purchasing a tablet is right for them and have even narrowed down certain brands of tablet to buy.
Incorporating long tail phrases into your content may not be as easy as throwing in the odd short tail keyword. When writing content with long tail keywords, avoid using the same keyword phrases over and over again, this will only annoy readers and search engines alike. Use words or phrases of the same or similar meaning to offer variety without damaging your optimisation potential. This may have been out of bounds previously, but now that Google recognises synonyms and the correlation of words, the world is quite literally your oyster.
Get back to basics
Understanding those SEO basics is an important aspect when finding the right keywords to represent your brand and its best interests. There are many ways to incorporate keywords across the front end of your website (the part your customer sees) and back end of your website (the stuff reserved for your eyes only). Amending title tags, meta descriptions, headings and alt tags all offer great opportunities for keyword targeting.
Let’s start with the title tag. This snippet of information may be small but if perfectly formed can work wonders for your ranking ability. The title tag is an HTML element that details the title of an individual web page. Title tags are the headline in blue displayed on search results pages, the part that is clickable and will take you to the page in question. Adding a keyword or using a long tail phrase in this title tag is simple, and putting that word or phrase as close to the beginning of the title as you can is recommended. The title tag not only sums up the suitability of the page for browsing users but enables search engines to rank it more effectively for search terms that are suitable.
Now to the meta description, which is found under the title tag and link text on each result on search engine results pages. The meta description offers a brief overview of what to expect from a web page, and whilst it’s only recommended that you play with 160 characters or less to provide a snippet of what’s to come, that’s often all that is needed to succinctly describe your page and incorporate those keywords. Again keywords and phrases placed towards to the beginning of your description tend to work better.
The headings and tags found on the web page itself also provide prime spots for the right keywords. Headings, known as H1s, H2s and H3s, are useful triggers for search engines, and make content on a web page much more digestible for customers. Including keywords here is an important aspect of optimisation. Visuals are also integral to optimisation success; in fact, in the 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report compiled by Social Media Examiner, 37% of marketers said that visual marketing was the most important form of content for businesses, whilst a further 38% said it was second only to blogging. As well as making a web page more impactive and pleasing to the eye, visuals or use of imagery will let you sneak even more keywords into your page. In addition to renaming image files before you upload using keywords, associated alt tags can also improve ranking for certain search terms.
Get even more technical
From the basics to something a little more technical. The schema markup is one of the latest evolutions in search engine optimisation and offers an integral way to speak directly to the search engines about what your website and the individual web pages within are all about. Schema markup is code that sits in the back of your website and spells out to search engines what the elements of each page are. As a result, search engines can return more informative and relevant results for users. Unlike content, schema tells Google and other search engines what the data available on each page means, not just what it says.
By using schema on selected pages, you can incorporate keywords and phrases to ensure your website gets indexed appropriately and the search results returned for your target audience are as accurate as possible.
See what’s trending
Evergreen content is a great way to target keywords and represent your company for the long haul, but with the rise (and rise) of social media, what’s going on in real time is becoming just as important for keyword selection and optimisation. Jumping on hot trends that are happening right now within your target market and writing blog posts on these topics is helping businesses rank higher.
Keep your finger on the pulse by using tools like Feedly, Scoop.it and BuzzSumo, write a timely blog post on the matter and throw in some of those carefully selected keywords for good measure. Not only will writing relevant and engaging content on trending topics help you rank higher for certain keywords, it will also establish your business as a thought leader and trend watcher that is firmly moving with the times, which will be great for your reputation.
Keep an eye on the competition
Trending topics aren’t the only thing you should keep a beady eye on during the keyword targeting process. Knowing your competition and the keywords they target as part of their own campaigns will help you sort the wheat from the chaff with your own. Title tags are just one of the areas that you can grade your competitors on. Simply use the search phrase ‘Allintitle: keyword’ to get to grips with the title tags that work for your competitors. Use this information and other competitor keyword research to either go head to head for the coveted keywords and phrases that they rank highly for or try to rank for popular keywords that your competitor doesn’t rank for.
Use the right tools
There are lots of SEO keyword tools that could come in handy during your keyword targeting campaign. Here are just a few to get you started:
- Long Tail Pro
- Moz.com Pro Rank Tracker
Each of the keyword ranking tools mentioned above offer great ways to select the keywords and phrases that are not just relevant to your industry sector but applicable to your specific product or service range. Enlisting assistance from a professional, like us, is another option. Our online marketing and search engine optimisation specialists have expertise in the demystification of the digital marketing world. With more than 10 years of experience under our belts, we are certainly well placed to assist you in your keyword selection and targeting mission and beyond.
Contact our super creative and very friendly team today for further information or to discuss your unique SEO requirements.