Keywords are vital to your online success. Your goal is to organically (naturally) rank high in Google in and other search engines, so you need to implement certain SEO strategies and keywords will play an important role in those.
When you conduct keyword research, you’re doing it to learn how your prospective customer is utilizing search engines to find the information or products that they want. You then take the words (and phrases) and use them on your site, to ensure it’s relevant for your target audience.
In the old days, keywords could be stuffed and hidden all over a website to trick search engines into helping a site rank high. Now that they’ve caught on, you have to use them with a more whitehat approach or risk getting de-indexed in Google and other search giants.
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What are Keywords?
Simply put, keywords are the words that define your content. They should sum up your page or post and are what search engines use to determine whether your content is relevant to show in search results.
A keyword, in the context of search engine optimization, is a particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a Web page. Keywords are intended to act as shortcuts that sum up an entire page. Keywords form part of a Web page’s metadata and help search engines match a page to with an appropriate search query.
Different Types of Keywords
There are two different types of keywords – broad and longtail. They can both help you rank in SERPs (search engine results pages).
These tend to be very generic and often get more overall searches. However, it is harder to rank for these keywords as there is more competition. Broad keywords include “dog” and “London”.
These keywords are narrowed down and focused. They generally are 3 or more words and are easier to rank for as fewer websites are trying to rank for them. A good example, as opposed to the broad “dog” keyword, would be “best dog training guide”. While the longtail versions may get fewer searches individually, if you rank high for a large volume of longtail keyword phrases, you could effectively dominate in a niche where your competitor has only worked on ranking well for a couple of broad keyword phrases.
Consumers tend to type in longtail keyword phrases whenever they’re in a buying mood. Using the previous example, someone who wants to spend money on a dog training guide would go with the longer version.
A person who just types in dog could be looking for a pet, facts about a dog, or pictures of dogs. You just don’t know, so the volume of traffic may not even be from prospective buyers, making their visit virtually worthless.
Top Tip: For the very best results, you’ll want to use both types in your content creation.
Where do your keywords generally need to be? Your keyword should be sprinkled throughout your post, even in the dusty corners no one thinks about.
Place your keyword in:
- Your Meta tags
- Alt text on images
- In the URL, you can change your permalinks to match your post title like this: http://www.yourblogname.com/title-of-blog-post. If you have WordPress check your settings. It will be under Settings > Permalinks. Change it to the one with this code at the end /%postname%
- Within all your content including the first paragraph and preferably in the first sentence.
Experts disagree about what density you have in regards to keywords. Some say 2% and others go as high as 10%. What you really need to do is write both human visitors and search engine spiders alike. That means enough keywords so that the searchbots see your content’s relevancy and not so many that it turns off your reader because it reads awkwardly.
Keyword tools are something every marketer needs to utilize but there are problems that come with using just any of them. When you’re growing your biz, you rely on keyword tools to help you find the perfect words and phrases that will catapult your online campaign ahead of your competitors.
There are three tiers of keyword tools – free, affordable, and expensive. Which ones are worth your investment of both time and money (if applicable)?
Free Keyword Tools
Free keyword tools tend to have limitations and you won’t get all the bells and whistles from paid keyword tools. However, they can be a good starting point.
Some free options include:
Paid Keyword Tools
Paid keyword tools usually come in packages where you can upgrade as you need to. With paid keyword tools you get access for keyword databases, better information such as cost per click, number of ads and search results as well as advanced analytics information.
Paid keyword tools include:
Most of these have free trials so you can give them a go before committing any hard earned moolah.
Many new bloggers and online biz owners will have (hopefully) diligently learned to do their keyword research. They will usually then proudly share their experiences of researching, compiling, cleaning and putting their massive lists into action.
But what many don’t know is how to use keywords and phrases that aren’t traditionally thought of in order to help you bring in more targeted traffic for your online marketing campaigns.
Whenever you’re creating your keyword list and before you clean and organize it, don’t forget about these:
- Plurals – if you’re targeting “Internet Marketing guide,” make sure you also include “Internet marketing guides” as the plural version. Many people either do one or the other, but not both.
- Misspellings – This can be caused by typos or the fact that the person searching doesn’t know how to properly spell a word, but some keyword tools provide you with spelling errors that you can add to your list. Here’s the bad news – you have to intentionally go use those spelling errors in your marketing campaigns. If you’re a stickler for proper spelling, this may annoy you, but try to keep your eye on the prize and realize that you’ll be ranking very high and capturing a segment of the population other marketers are ignoring.
- Different spellings – often there are variations in the way things are spelt across the globe. Think optimisation vs optimization, colour vs color.
- Starting With – this is a way of gathering keywords where you’re in charge of what words are chosen and in what order (for example, used cars – making sure used comes first and is paired with the word cars). For some newbies, they get very frustrated when their search results deliver a variety of words like new cars and used furniture because they didn’t know how to properly filter out these phrases.
- Phrase Match – this includes all of the words you put in quotation marks, plus any words before or after the phrase, such as – buy used cars today – (if you put “used cars” in the keyword tool).
- Negative Match – this method of searching includes some words and leaves out others. For example, if you type “cars” -“used” it would return keyword phrases with cars in it, but none that have the word used.
Keyword variables help you expand your list and casting a wider net means you capture a bigger percentage of the audience that could be buying your products and services, so it’s always a wise move.
How Effective is Your Keyword?
A keyword list can grow to mammoth proportions before you know it and then you’re left staring at a bunch of words, wondering which ones will provide the biggest return for you if and when you use them in an online marketing campaign. Some marketers use what’s called KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index) to figure this out. It was originally created by Sumantra Roy and it’s fairly easy to use for your own online marketing campaigns.
First, you have to brainstorm all of the words and phrases that are relevant to your website’s products or services. KEI generally takes long-tail keywords into effect since the competition for broad keywords is too great.
KEI examines the number of searches for a keyword phrase against the number of search results. The tools that find your KEI for you will spit out a ranking for that keyword phrase and the higher the KEI, the better your chances of ranking higher in the search engines for it.
Use common sense
Some people rely heavily on KEI but you have to use some human common sense, too. This is because KEI doesn’t take into consideration what type of quality those competitor sites have in regards to content. There may be many competitors with low SEO strategies in place, or only a handful of competitors but those who happen to have massive pulling potential in the SERPs.
Common sense comes into play when you start evaluating the keywords and phrases on your list against the motivation of your reader. For instance, a keyword phrase with the word “free” in it might return high KEI statistical data, but you know that because it’s someone searching for a freebie, the likelihood of them whipping out their wallets and paying for your products or services is diminished.
You’ll want to use keywords with qualifiers in them. For example, instead of using the keyword phrase, “Internet marketing guide,” you might get a more targeted buyer if you add certain words in it, such as “buy Internet marketing guide,” or “best Internet marketing guide.”
Typically, long-tail keywords with modifiers added to the mix will help you rank higher and make more money with the content than if you try to dominate early on using broad keywords that don’t tell you much about why your visitor is using the phrase.
Using your Keywords
You should have a whole system in place for using each of your keyword phrases. They can certainly vary from person to person and business to business, but it helps to have a spreadsheet where you track what you’ve done with each one so that you don’t get confused.
Keyword implementation is something that happens over the long-term. It’s not something you do in one day or one week. So let’s assume you’ve gathered and compiled the list, cleaned it and organized it – and now you’re ready to put the words and phrases to good use for you.
You can use your keyword in:
- Blog Posts
- Social Media Posts
- Online Forums
Don’t skimp on content with these. You want these seeds that you plant online to work for you for years to come (assuming you stay in this niche), so make them high-quality posts so that they get bookmarked and shared with others.
Another good place to get ideas for fresh keyword usage is in relevant forums. You can find narrow niche forums just by typing in your broad keyword and the word “forum” (without quotation marks). Then visit the thread titles and see what it is people want to know.
Keyword research is vital if you want to get your results shown in search engine results pages. Try to use a mixture of longtail and broad keywords to have the best chance of ranking. Remember though, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take time, hard work and patience before you start seeing results. However, all that hard work will eventually pay off!
Now, what are you waiting for? Go start your keyword research!
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