When it comes to building the perfect website, there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for success. Just as a skilled chef will adjust seasonings to suit their customer’s palette, you need to be prepared to customize your website to best suit the needs of your business and most importantly, your customers.
While building a decent online presence is relatively easy, the aspects that set a successful company apart from its competitors is the ability to tailor content to appeal directly to their target audience – and a key part of that is SEO keyword research.
Let’s dive into three critical SEO keyword research tips to take your optimization “recipe” from amateur to professional.
As a business owner, chances are that you have a good idea of your company vision and how you’d like to advertise yourself to your target audience. That’s all well and good, but you can actually set yourself back if you stick to your guns and build your website in a rigid way rather than prioritizing online content that will naturally appeal to users.
At the end of the day, you really have to understand what people are searching for and adjust your content to match it. Just as you’ll often choose one of the first results in a google search, you’re not going to convince buyers to try out various combinations of phrases until they happen to stumble across your business, you’ll need to appear for the words and phrases your customers are actually searching.
So, how exactly we do we figure out what people are searching for? The first of these SEO keyword research tips is to use a keyword research tool.
We’re not going to go into detail on specific tools, but they are pretty easily discoverable with a Google search. Probably because of keyword research, right? It’s funny how that works!
Anyway, once you’ve found yourself a keyword research tool, it’s time to start entering some phrases that people might search if they are looking for your business. Put yourself into your customers’ shoes, and really think “What keywords would I Google to find my company?”
Let’s use the wedding industry as an example. Say you are a florist that specializes in weddings. Use the keyword tool to look for phrases like “Bridal Flowers,” “Wedding Florist,” “Wedding Flower Shop,” and any other number of other popular search phrases.
You’ll quickly see the average number of searches that each phrase receives each month, and that can be an overwhelming amount of data. While it may seem intuitive to immediately target the highest searched phrases, there’s often a lot of competition from other companies with those search terms. In practice, knowing the type of keywords to target is a little more nuanced. Let’s break that down below.
Now that we’ve discussed how to discover keywords, you have to decide exactly what words to target. So how do we do that? Our second of these keyword research tips is to learn the ins and outs of search volume.
When a customer tries to find a certain type of company, chances are that there are some pretty limited types of keywords that they search for. The terms we mentioned above like “Wedding Florist” might get multiple millions of searches a month, but these are high-volume and high-competition keywords. Your site is likely to get drowned out in a sea of more established companies that have already beaten you to the punch when it comes to these major search terms.
Conversely, choosing really niche keywords may help you rank higher, but ranking highly on a search page doesn’t mean much if only a few people will ever see it.
In the majority of cases, it’s better to target highly-specific, low-competition types of keywords. The fancy marketing term for this idea is long-tail keywords.
The keyword “Pizza” might turn up a huge number of results, but what are the chances that your small pizzeria is going to compete with industry giants? However, if you were to use keywords like “cheap Brooklyn Style pizza in X City,” you’ve now narrowed your competition down to your specific style of pizza and your geographic location.
Once you’ve got a grasp of the idea of search volume, it’s time to put that into practice with a little bit of strategy.
There are tons of ways you can use keyword research to your advantage, and the last of our keyword research tips is comprised of a couple of methods that you can use to take your specific keywords and put them into practice.
If you’re a local business, or even a national or international business that wants to target a specific area, building your site with plenty of words that target a specific geographic location is a great way to help local shoppers find your site. There’s no reason you need to advertise your Boston tailoring service to a shopper in L.A., so adjusting your site to appeal to your most likely buyers is a great way to tackle the long-tail keywords as discussed above.
When you’ve been in an industry for a while, chances are that you have an idea of the types of businesses you’re competing with. There are basically no niches that are competition free, and taking a look at where your competition is succeeding and where they are failing is an excellent way to know how to manage your own keyword strategy.
Look for the high-volume keywords that your competitors are not ranking for, and you could get the best of both worlds – high traffic without the high competition.
Conversely, you could look for the keywords that they are ranking for and try to beat them at their own game. This is a little more aggressive and riskier, but can pay off if you know what you’re doing.
As convenient as it would be, it’s usually not sufficient to set your keywords up and just leave your site alone. Dynamically adjusting your keywords to match industry trends, or even the time of year could be a great way to give your business a boost when it needs it.
Let’s use the wedding florist example from above. As a florist, chances are that you’re keyed in to the most popular types of flowers in each wedding season. Adjusting your site to target those specific products, and even modifying your keyword research to behave differently during the wedding off-season of fall and winter could give you a surprising amount of increased traffic.
Search engines are a living and breathing creature of sorts that is always looking to provide the most relevant results to searchers. Dynamically updating your site to better appeal to customers is an excellent way to outperform complacent competitors.
As helpful as these tips for keyword research might be, the the practice as a whole is very much a personal process. What works for your business is going to vary on a number of factors like location, the type of products your offering, and the number and size of your competitors. Short of employing a digital marketing agency, you’re going to have to be willing to try and fail until you reach that magic formula – and then dynamically adjust to keep the magic going!
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