Refining Your On-page Keyword Strategy
Your keyword strategy is a crucial component of your online marketing plan. It defines your company and spills over into your meta content, on-page content, and into your search engine marketing campaign. This also establishes how search engines will understand your website and ultimately how it gets indexed.
Choosing keywords can be tough. Too broad, and no one finds you because so many people are vying for your terms. Too narrow, and no one finds you because you are too vague or appealing to a very small segment of searchers.
First define a list of words that describe your business, services, locations, and other terms that speak to web searchers seeking your business. Next, review your closest competitors and the keywords they use. Your brick-and-mortar competition is not necessarily your online competition. Use your keyword list to see who comes up in search results to determine your online rivals.
You can continue your keyword research by using Google’s free tool. This lets you select and analyze keywords as you build your strategy. You can see the search volume (the average amount of times people use that word in a search query) for words and phrases as well as the average cost per click (CPC) for bids, should you choose to do a Google AdWords campaign.
Together with your list of words, a list of your competition’s words, a search engine, and the Keyword Tool, you can determine the traffic volume and CPC for your words. Create a spreadsheet that lists all the keywords you will use with columns for search volume, CPC, and columns for sites that rank number 1, 2, and 3 for each search term. This helps give perspective and creates a mechanism to chart progress and changes.
Another column could even be added to track the paid search results; the results that show up in the ads above and to the right of the search results. This list can become massive as you search and combines keywords and phrases. I know how fun that sounds, but it can go a long way in understanding your position on the web.
In business and marketing, it is necessary to differentiate yourself. You can differentiate your brand on a keyword level by focusing on things like location and specific terms that relate to your company or product to help separate it from the competition. Do you sell plumbing supplies? Well, “plumbing supplies” is too general. Specialize in “residential plumbing?” Now your keyword selection just eliminated the competition from “commercial plumbing” supplies vying for space in search results. Go farther with “residential plumbing supplies” in “St. Cloud, Florida.” You really dig in when you get into your specialties, like “residential plumbing supplies,” “St. Cloud, “ “Florida,” specializing in “custom brass piping” with “24-hour emergency service.”
You use the keywords repeatedly, yet sparingly on your page copy, your meta descriptions, and your meta page titles. The more clearly you describe these goods and services on each page and correlate them with the meta data, the better search engines understand what you do and serve up your pages in relevant searches.
If you do an AdWords campaign, the more you shape your ad messaging with your keywords and the more that messaging correlates with the information on the page the ad points to, the better the ad will perform.
Keywords and keyword phrases that are descriptive, specialized, and well researched are another component for success with search engines. It is important to remember that you must use keywords in a reserved and intelligent fashion. It should be useful and explanatory to humans. If you are writing for a machine, you will piss off humans. If you are knowledgeable about your business and passionate about what you do, keywords and variations of them will come out naturally across the content of your website. By combining a clean, compliant, well-coded website and an on-page keyword strategy, you will be ever closer to pleasing the almighty search “bots.”
Find out more about the mystery of the Google search algorithm and the SEO benefit of simple HTML. In my next post, I’ll discuss how to utilize your keyword strategy to create succinct meta data.
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