Using Keywords to Boost SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) changes it stripes so often, it is difficult to stay afloat in the Google-verse. The formulas created for content to show up in Google search rankings is so tumultuous that I can’t even remember what the difference was between Penguin and Hummingbird. All I know is that now articles keep telling me we live in the Siri-search age where people search in full sentences, a trait we learned from Apple’s Siri. All of that confusion put aside, I can confidently say that whether it is phrases or words, the beating heart of SEO is still its keywords. How the formulas choose to take them into consideration doesn’t change the fact that keywords have been and still are the main stars on the Google search platform.
Another ridiculously broad buzz word: keywords; the list of phrases and words that are most valuable to your company/blog/products because they are the most searched by your target audience on Google. Simplified, if you are a software company providing event management systems to nonprofits, then your hottest keywords could most likely consist of “benefit auctions”, “charity gala”, “event management software”, etc. Most platforms today will suggest or recommend keywords to you. Unfortunately, a hunch doesn’t have the same ROI as labor-intensive research.
Here’s a list of proactive steps you can take to compile a list of valuable, effective blog and website keywords with high ROI for your industry, company, or product:
List your 5-10 closest competitors. Scan their websites and blogs, pulling out the most commonly used phrases and words. Track this in an Excel spreadsheet, using 4 columns: words, phrases, themes, and products. Pick which columns apply to your exercise. Do the same for your website and blog and see how it compares. There are different schools of thought as to whether you want to use the same keywords as competitors and steal the spotlight, or use completely different ones to differentiate yourself and tap into another audience.
There are programs you can pay for and use as well. See Keyword Tools article for resources.
Based on those keywords and which school of thought you adopt, go back through your website content and blog (recent and future posts) and utilize these keywords, phrases, and themes as much as possible.
Budget allowing, set up your Google AdWords account.
- Save your Excel list of phrases/words as a CSV file.
- Upload the CSV file to your AdWords account.
- Create a new “Campaign” using those keywords.
- Create 3 variations of an Ad using different text and photos.
- Set a generous daily budget.
- Run your campaign for a week (monitor daily).
- At the end of a week, look at how your keywords/phrases performed. Were the ones that you thought were strong words searched a lot? Were some of the popular searches surprising? Also, determine which ads and keywords were the most successful (e.g. highest CTR). Delete or Pause the ads/keywords that were unsuccessful.
- Based on your findings, you might have to go back and edit your list of keywords and rework some of your website and blog content.
- You may also choose to continue your AdWords campaign with the successful aspects. Just make sure you set a realistic daily/monthly budget that you can afford to invest.
This is a living process in that it does not stop step 3. As SEO specialists, business owners, and marketers, we must continuously monitor, measure, and adjust. Always take note of new buzz words and phrases in your industry and test the “suggested keywords” offered to you on blog and website keywords platforms. Just make sure you’ve done the real research yourself. While time consuming, it’s extremely beneficial.
If you are looking for a resource, I highly suggest Moz.