We all want to rank first on Google. The problem is that most small business websites haven’t been designed with a keyword plan in mind. It used to be that you could just stuff your site full of keywords. But the goal of Google today is to give their users the best search results possible, and they have 25,000 engineers at their disposal to help make that happen. For the last several years, Google has been in the midst of a huge sea change in search engine optimization (SEO) that completely changes how you should tackle content on your website. Google is now much better at understanding what you mean. It’s another nail in the coffin of old school SEO, and it makes having a good keyword plan more important than ever.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are the words and phrases that people put into Google when looking for something. Google takes those keywords and searches its index to bring back results that match. Keywords are important because they tell Google what your site is about. That can often be a problem for small businesses because they don’t know how to come up with the right keywords to do that.
What is a Long-Tail Keyword?
Long-tail keywords are a combination of three or more words or phrases. They tend to have a lower search volume and are usually less competitive. But they generate more relevant traffic and are easier to rank well on. They also work well for organically ranking for more specific and targeted searches, with higher quality traffic that is ultimately more valuable as those are the prospects actually looking for your specific service or offering. A good way to find these for your subject is to go do a Google search. Put in the first word or two of your topic, and see what search results Google auto-completes in the window. That gives you a good idea of phrases related to your topic that people are searching for.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
Google’s goal today is to figure out the overall topic of your page. LSI Keywords are keywords that are semantically related to your keyword. They’re words that are often found together in context with your keyword. Google recognizes that within a certain keyword topic, other related keywords will organically be included. By looking for these related words as part of their overall search, Google improves its ability to understand the context of the page, and to determine the quality of your content and the relevance to the search term someone is looking for. Good rich content based on your keyword plan will organically create LSI keywords, but there are also tools that help you find them.
Coming up with the right keywords
You know you need a good keyword plan in place. It’s the easiest way to get additional value out of your website and your overall marketing strategy. But how do you get started? Some things to think about when putting together your keyword plan.
- Who are your clients?
Think like your clients. You’ve got to be in the shoes of your prospects and think, “Okay, if somebody is looking for us, how are they going to think about that and what are they going to search for?”
- How do you talk to them?
Keywords need to be plain enough to people that they can understand what your website is about and that also allow Google Bots to understand and interpret what your site is about.
- What are your competitors doing?
Go to the websites of your competitors and see what keywords they’re targeting.
- Use Google Adwords Keyword Planner or UberSuggest to research potential keywords.
Look for keywords with enough traffic to be relevant but that people are also paying a lot for on Adwords. It can be tricky to find that “sweet spot,” but you’re looking for a medium competition keyword in the organic rankings.
Organic vs Paid
You hear a lot about paying for keywords. And we all know that the results we see at the top of the Google Search results are paid ads. But the truth is that 88% of search results traffic is organic. People trust organic results more – we are all going to pick the organic search result if that matches what we’re looking for – so it’s better to show up organically. Focus on organic first. Make sure you have organic nailed down and the rest of your marketing foundation in place before you ever spend money to accomplish the same thing.
Utilize Keywords Organically
Once you’ve come up with your keyword plan, it should be a part of any content you create, whether it’s content for your website, a blog or LinkedIn post, social media, or an email campaign. When you do a good job of creating a strong keyword plan, it is easy to create good natural-sounding content with the keywords and phrases as an organic part of the copy. Stuffing keywords into content is an old school SEO tactic that no longer works and it will actually hurt your search rankings.
Analyze Your Results
Just because you have a solid keyword plan in place doesn’t mean you’re done. You need to continually monitor the results. Take a look at where visitors are landing on your website and analyze the flow. Look at where they go once they land on your site, and how much time they spend. See what queries the site is showing up for on Google.
We like to see results that demonstrate we’re showing up in the rankings for:
- Phrases that don’t have the brand name or company name in them. Everyone should already be ranking first for a company name, that’s just table stakes these days. Look at what phrases you’re ranking high for that don’t include your name. Do they match the words or phrases from your keyword plan?
- Results that show that the content you’re creating is giving visitors answers to their questions. First and foremost, we want to provide value to our prospects and clients, and Google also values that. Their algorithm is set up to reward you for providing the right results to match a search
Also, look for results where pages are ranking a little too low for certain queries. Your stats will help you see exactly where those are and provide an opportunity to go in and create better content. It’s a constant process of making small changes and improvements based on data, giving those changes time to work, then looking at the data again.
Tools to help
There are a lot of tools out there to help you come up with the right keywords and to analyze what is and isn’t working. Here are the ones we use for our clients:
These days, it’s no longer a matter of who spends the most money on SEO. It’s about who does the best job creating great content and taking care of their clients. A good keyword plan is a foundational part of your overall marketing plan and strategy, and a key part of ensuring the success of your business. Make sure it’s a good one.
Learn more by listening to our B2B Word of Mouth Marketing podcast episode, Finding the Right Keywords for Your Website.
All the best,