Is a Keyword Strategy Important for your SEO?
Last week in my Internet Marketing class, my professor was asked a simply question: “Should I purchase SEO services for my parents Storage Park business.” My professor replied, “You never should pay for SEO services. Search Engine Optimization is easy. All you have to do is choose a keyword like “Storage Park” and place it all throughout your website.” This statement is wrong on so many different levels. But for the sake of you not having to read a novel, I am only going to address why it is important for you to create a keyword strategy.
My professor’s statement may have been true 20 years ago before Google’s Panda and Hummingbird update, but utilizing keywords is not as simple anymore. Google creates changes to their algorithm in order to drive the searcher toward the most valuable website. They create this value by constantly changing their algorithm in order to deliver to the user the most relevant, popular, and recent content.
For more information on the way Google works, click here. Google has come along way since the days where keyword stuffing was an effective technique. Their most recent update, the Hummingbird, has been proof of this.
The Hummingbird update is a completely new algorithm that uses “conversational search” to guide the user to the right website. Conversational search helps Google better understand the intent of the user. Google is then able to relate the user’s question to concepts that are located in a website’s content.
For more information on the hummingbird update, click here. So why is this important? The algorithm has not changed the way that users search; it has changed the results that they are given. If you are doing SEO for your website, you must be more conversational with your content by focusing on delivering elaborate concepts.
Forming a Keyword Strategy
So realizing that ranking on Google is not as easy as choosing a single keyword and randomly plugging it into a website may leave many of you confused and frustrated. In this post, we are going to go through the steps of making an effective keyword strategy.
1. Optimization Intent
The first step to forming a keyword strategy is optimization intent. There are two general reasons people want to optimize their websites:
- Increase traffic
- Increase conversions
Websites, like blogs, may not be as concerned about the type of visitors they receive as a business may be. For businesses, any traffic is not always good traffic. All businesses have a target market and they would prefer to attract those types of visitors. Keep this in mind when creating a keyword theme.
2. Keyword Theme
A keyword theme is a list of keywords that describes a single idea. As stated above, Google realizes that a good concept is more valuable to a reader than an individual keyword. Themes help create effective content that is recognized by Google as a concept that will answer the query of the user.
When creating a list of keywords, think of the different ways someone might search your services. Thinking of synonyms can be very useful. Here is a useful tool for creating theme keywords. Keep in mind that the Hummingbird update prefers to use “conversational search.” Here are a few different ways a person may search one product.
Example: “Nike shoes”
- Intent: “find Nike shoes”
- Time and Date: “2014 Nike shoes”
- Location: “Nike shoes Orange County”
- Quality or Price: “cheap Nike shoes”
These types of modifiers help Google deliver more accurate results for the user. The professionals like to call these phrases “long tail keywords.”
Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are longer and more specific, but they make up the majority of search engine traffic. Actually, “Over 70% of the traffic you earn for any given page will come from keywords you didn’t try to optimize for (Moz.com.)”
This is why it is important to focus on creating a theme around a concept. For instance, it would be better to rank #2 on Google for twenty keywords than to rank #1 for one keyword. Once you have a list of “long tail keywords” that describe a theme, it is time to do some keyword research.
3. Keyword Research
Keyword research is the final and most important step in making a keyword strategy…another reason why my professor was mistaken. Doing keyword research when forming a keyword strategy is just as essential as doing market research when forming marketing strategy. The three important factors to remember when doing keyword research are:
What is the Question…
- Localized Search Volume
- Keyword Competitiveness
- Ranking Competition
1. Localized Search Volume is important because it tells you how many people are searching your keyword in your area.
2. Keyword competitiveness tells you how often that keyword is used in other websites. Here is an example where both of these come into play:
Lets say that you are a law firm that practices family law in Los Angeles County. You want an online presence for your website so you decide to perform SEO for your company. Los Angeles County is a very competitive online market, and after reading this article you realize that you need to do some research in order to create a keyword strategy. The first place you go is the Adwords Keyword Planner because it is free, however you want more information so you purchase an account at Long Tail Pro. With this tool you try to find different long tail keywords that are related to your service, location, and quality. While scrolling through the keywords you come across two very similar phrases but have very different results.
The first phrase “family law attorney Los Angeles” has 480 local searches per month. The second phrase “family law Los Angeles CA” has 10 local searches per month. The slightest change in a website’s keywords can deliver different results. This relates to every industry in every geographical region. On top of that, the first search phrase had an average keyword competitiveness of 29 and the second 30. In this case, it is obvious that the first phrase would be more effective than the second, but choosing the right keywords is not always that easy. Most often, a compromise has to be made between high search volume or high keyword competitiveness.
The keyword quantity and density within your competition is not your only concern for ranking.
3. The last step is analyzing the keyword’s ranking competition. There are other ranking factors that you have to keep in mind. By using the Mozbar and personally going to your competitors’ websites you can check:
These factors tell you how powerful your competitors are, and the likelihood of your website ranking against them.
Do not invest your time into formatting and optimizing your website for a keyword that is not being searched or is too competitive for you to even rank for. Remember, “Any traffic, is not always good traffic.” Have a target market, and keep them in mind while you are structuring your keyword theme. The online market is growing and ranking competition is increasing. As this continues, forming a keyword strategy will become even more essential for your online presence.