Improve your SEO accuracy to hit your target audience.
Scoring on the internet is much like making a goal in soccer or a basket in basketball. The pros we cheer for make it look so easy to perform a slam dunk or a bicycle kick. And many, judging it to be easy, have tried it themselves and face-planted. However, ask any professional athlete, and they will tell you that their shot has been meticulously perfected over many hours covered in sweat.
It’s the same for SEO. The most powerful and effective links are actually the result of many hours of research and practice.
The "ready, aim, fire!" instruction has been the basic formula of making a good shot since the first firearms.
Ready: Active website with good navigation, unique, original and fresh content, plus the right target URL.
Aim: Keyword Research and Selection, niche research, positioning.
Fire!: Link creation and dispersal, blog posting, and social
Think about shooting a basket. You can have your feet steady, and you can shoot all you want, but without good aim, most of your shots will miss.
Keywords give aim to your efforts. They put you right in the search engines so that your most qualified prospects will be able to find your site.
It can't be emphasized enough how crucial keywords are to your online campaigns. Michael Muthner, writing for Inc.com, puts forth: “keywords are not just about SEO. They at the heart of a company's marketing campaign at its most granular level.” Yet, many website owners or company executives spend approximately two minutes picking their keywords rather than taking the time to do important keyword research.
The bottom line is revenue. You are not searching for your company, your prospects are. And they reward you with revenue. Yes, your company's website may be “#1 in the search engines” for certain terms, but are those terms relevant? Will they bring the kind of traffic to your site that will likely convert? Or will maintaining your keyword rankings drain away money and time without converting? Knowing the right keywords is fundamental to your success. What does it take to know them? Research.
Brainstorm Imagine, Ask, Record
Sit down with a paper and pencil. Pretend you are a prospective customer and want to locate your company on a search engine. Imagine every problem, question, scenario, or desire that would make someone want your services. What are they typing in to Google? Write everything that comes to you down in a list. You may even decide to ask current or past customers how they would search for your company, or what keywords they did use when they found you. Try to keep the terms anywhere from 2 to 5 words long. Don't stop at one session, either. Let it roll around in your mind, and write down every combination you hear or think of that could be promising.
Filter Your List
Chances are you may have hundreds of terms and phrases on your list. Look through them. Cross out any entry that is only one word long (unless you have created a new word or are targeting a very specific one word entry; they are terribly difficult to rank for.) If your phrases are too broad or generic, they will not be able to compete without a LOT of time and effort. Look at your list again. If you do have one word entries, how could they be modified to be more specific? For example, “popsicles” could be modified to “rainbow popsicles” and again to “rocket rainbow popsicles.” Always make sure that the keywords you have chosen are relevant to your site, and that there is information on your pages to support those keywords. Otherwise, you can bet they will ditch your popsicle stand.
Go to the Keyword Tools
When you have a pretty good list of the keywords you have narrowed down, take them to the keywords. There are hundreds of these on the internet. In a nutshell, keyword tools can assess:
- Attainability: Is it possible, based on your time and budget, to rank highly for “keyword X”? Or are there too many other companies and websites vying for those spaces?
- Phrase Popularity: Some keyword tools will tell you how many people are actually searching for a search term.
- Qualifying Phrase: Does the phrase have a high conversion ratio, or not so much.
- Other statistical information.
Free Keyword Tools
Google Ad-words (make sure to access this tool logged in to Google.)
Paid Keyword Tools
Wordtracker- Tracks popularity, competitiveness of words
Wordstream- Offers a 30 day free trial period.
For those who are new to the SEO scene, we recommend starting with Ad-words. For every search phrase, Adwords will suggest other iterations or related searches that you may choose to add to your list. While looking for words, look for words with low to medium competition and high search volume. They aren't common, but they do exist and will be the easiest way to get the “low-hanging fruit” in the search engines.
After deciding on 3 to 7 terms, you can hit the ground running and optimize your site in so many ways (if you have more time, money, or help, the number can be larger). Incorporate these keywords into the text, titles, and meta-description on your website. Bold them and interlink them between the pages on your site. Make them the anchor text for the links that you place on the internet, and ask friends to talk about them on social media sites (particularly Google+).
Keyword research is an ongoing process. Your company changes, your inventory changes, your customers change. Your keywords will too. Keyword selection is a never-ending process, but one that can bolster your sales, reputation, and rankings if done right.