Why you need a sound keyword strategy?
White hat/ black hat SEO
Google’s gotten a lot smarter. In the old days — a few years ago — firms used all kinds of “Black Hat” tricks to show up on the first page in search, because finishing first matters in search just like it does in sports. In fact, the top organic search result gets over 42% of the clicks, compared with #2, which only gets around 11%. And the numbers drop off seriously once you’re off the first page of SERPS.
So, site managers used crazy stuff in their metatags (don’t worry if you don’t know what these are, since it doesn’t work anymore), artificial links, even driving customers to complain about their unscrupulous businesses to get on the first page.
But, every time developers found a new “trick”, Google slapped them down and closed the loophole.
Google shuts down 11 million websites
In July, 2011 Google shut down 11 million websites in a single move designed to punish content unfit for the internet. Now, sure, Google can’t shut down your website, but they made it invisible to searchers, which is pretty much the same when you consider 70% of searches occur on Google. To understand the true impact of Google on the Internet, a recent outage at Google caused a 40% decrease in web traffic.
A recent Penguin update, even removed the holy grail of White Hat SEO — link-building — because too many unscrupulous operators were buying links rather than getting them organically. After several attempts to force users to get organic links, Google decided to just ignore them — to a large extent.
Enter Keyword strategy
Now, to be fair, keywords always mattered. That’s because Google needed some way to figure out what your page was about so they could serve it up to folks searching for answers to that topic. Originally, keywords were a single word, now they’re keyword phrases — termed long-tail keywords. For instance, I might use keywords such as “Optimize your SEO” or “sound keyword strategy” to describe this page.
In the old days, you’d use your keywords indiscriminately — just thrown in all over regardless of whether the content made any sense with all the keywords stuffed in there. But, Google got smart. Now, they penalize keyword stuffing and look for other things to tell them that your content makes sense and is valuable — such as social sharing. But, Google still needs keyword to categorize your content — long-tail keywords.
Building a sound keyword strategy
So, how do you build a sound keyword strategy?
1. Understand your target audience
Learn how your target audience frames problems your brand can solve. What words do they use to describe the problem? How do they talk about products in your space? I recently published a guest post from Peter — of SocialEars — showing how an agency used his listening tool to discover a different way customers were talking about their problem.
2. Develop a list of keywords
From listening to customers, develop a list of 20-30 keywords — long-tail keyword phrases.
3. Find optimal keywords
A sound keyword strategy relies on finding keyword phrases that represent a large number of searches online and low competition. That isn’t always possible, but that’s the goal. Use the Google Keyword Planner — which replaced the Keyword Tool — to discover which of your keywords is best — I’ll demo the Keyword Planner in the next post.
Sometimes, it’s hard to find keywords with a lot of searches and low competition. That’s the reason for starting with so many keywords. My strategy with clients is to use what I call the 3 bears strategy to find a mixture of keywords. Some might have really low competition, but not many searches (here you can dominate on the first page); some with a high number of searches, but high competition (where you can leverage your success with low competition keywords to eventually get onto the first page); and some with a good bit of search and competition — some too hot, some too cold, and some just right.
4. Install a good SEO package
I find a good SEO tool essential in building a sound keyword strategy. I use WordPress SEO by Yoast. Your SEO tool (in my case a plugin) should build your metadata — conforming to Google white hat strategies. You designate your long-tailed keyword and the tool checks that you’ve optimized your keyword. Mine even has a graphical representation with red meaning you’re keyword strategy isn’t so great and green meaning you’ve optimized your keyword.
The keyword should be in your title (H1 tags) and URL. You should also use your keyword in H2 tags (headings) and within the body of your content. Your SEO tool should also check that you’ve not overused the keyword, which Google will figure is keyword stuffing.
5. Implementing your sound keyword strategy
No keyword strategy is complete without a good content marketing strategy. So, writing valuable content is critical for your success. But, you can be even more successful with a sound keyword strategy. A content marketing strategy also involves linking content to authoritative sites using your keywords, including keywords in your tags, and putting content into categories related to your keywords.
And, I’m happy to help — whether you need a complete social media strategy or just a little help building your keyword strategy or content marketing strategy. You can request a FREE introductory meeting using my vCita pop-up or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.