When people ask me for help with their website, social media campaign, content marketing, or whatever, I make a few assumptions. I assume that they have done the keyword research and that their website and other content, to this point, is optimized for specific keyword phrases. The keyword phrase research is critical to a successful online presence.
I also assume they have implemented their target keyword phrases, or at least identified each page’s primary and secondary keyword phrases. Since people have different meanings of optimized, and I recently had an epiphany, I thought now was a good time for a review.
There is a Magic Bullet
The first stage in the SEO process* is research, both keyword phrase research and competition research. Keyword phrase research is the magic bullet to getting on page one in search engines. The keyword phrases, which you discover during your research, are the mechanism behind search engines. They also are the mechanism behind your links, and they result in happy visitors.
Keyword Phrases Drive Search Engines
Keyword phrases are the things that drive traffic to your web page. People use these same terms (keyword phrases) to find content on the internet. A webpage needs to tell the search engines what it is about and it does this by using at least one major keyword phrase and one secondary keyword phrase. (I will cover where in implementation, the second stage in the SEO process.) You should select the keyword phrases that you realistically can target to get your home page, or any page in your website, on page one of the search engines results page (SERP). Time is always a factor. It takes time. It takes the actual passing of days and weeks of continuous effort to get there and still more effort to stay there.
Also, keep in mind that search engines do not rank websites. They rank pages. The site’s home page is usually the most relevant, because people optimize it. And that means, that if you optimize each page in your website, your site could occupy more than one slot of the ten on the first page of search engine organic results area for a given keyword phrase.
Using Google’s Keyword tool
I use Google’s keyword tool to find keyword phrases. I brainstorm a list. I set the filter to phrase match, over in the left column. Run them through the tool. Save it to Excel. Delete irrelevant keyword phrases and low volume/high competition phrases. Use the first list to drill down through the relevant keyword phrases to get more keyword phrase ideas and add them to your list. I examine the first five competitors that show up in the SERP for a specific keyword phrase and see if they are using keyword phrases that I have not considered. I use SEM Rush to see their keyword phrases. I use these tools because they are FREE. You can go google the term “keyword research tools” to find other tools.
Finding the Juiciest Keyword Phrases
I am looking for the “juiciest” keyword phrases with high volume, and low competition. No brainer, right? Somewhere between the two, is the “Goldilocks”, the one that is “just right”. You need to target keyword phrases that you can realistically out rank, and out link your competition for, to drive traffic to your web pages. (You need to do the science part. You need to analyze the impact of using a specific keyword phrase on your pages. In my world, analysis is the third stage in the SEO process.) What impact did the usage of a particular keyword phrase have on your web page’s position in SERP and traffic volumes?
Keyword Phrases are Essential in Links
Many people will get to your site by links, not search engines. Also, Google likes links. Everything that you do online, to drive traffic to your site, should be using your identified keyword phrases. This means you will write your blog posts using one, and link it back to the targeted, relevant page. You will write articles that use one of your keyword phrases and link it back to your site. All off-page, white hat, SEO tactics should use your identified, targeted keyword phrases. You should use them to drive your link building efforts, including social media links.
Keyword Phrases Aid in Navigation
You should use keyword phrases in your website navigation. This helps define the hierarchy of the website. Google recommends that you use keyword phrases as category pages. They also want the site to start broad, and with navigation, work towards the specific. For example, the home page should start with the overall keyword phrase for the site. The next layer down in a website should be a little more specific. The next layer down from that is even more specific. And so on … For our Tiffany style lamp site, we start with the home page; the next layer is the category pages for the type of lamp (table lamps, hanging lamps, and floor lamps) and also the styles (Victorian, Mission, etc), and then they drill down to the very specific product page. Search engines like each page to have its own unique primary keyword phrase. Search engines like to see this hierarchical structure and visitors like the easy, straightforward navigation. Short navigation from the homepage to the checkout function makes for happy visitors and more sales.
Keyword phrases are extremely important to the success of a web site. Once you identify your primary and secondary keyword phrases through research, implement them, and analyze them you will have a better webpage, a better blog, more people finding your photos and videos (use keyword phrases in the tag areas), more visitors, more traffic … ending with potentially — more money.
Off to do some implementation. What tool do you like to use to do your keyword research?
Next up: Implementation – Where the heck do you put all of these keyword phrases?
* I consider SEO an art and a science. See my post about how search engines work. In short, I consider SEO a three-step, recurring process — research, implementation, and analysis (wash, rinse, repeat).
And for fun: We went on a photo walking tour in Seattle. Our guide was outstanding. This is a photo of the Gum Wall, in Seattle, WA. Phil took this photo. (Yep. Spreading the Google love. Notice what phrase I used to link back to their site? I am making their homepage “juicy” for photo walking tour in Seattle. I also put Seattle Photo Tours Pike Place Market as the title of the link. “Very specifically juicy.” I also could have linked back to their site from the photo and filled in the title and alt tag with their keywords too. Seriously spreading the Google love, but I chose not to.)