Whether you’re an entrepreneur using the web to drive engagement and sales (like Q101), a foot soldier at a company hoping to advance, or someone looking to increase their personal and professional visibility and viability by employing digital strategies, knowing how to use keywords is essential. Like we tell our clients, “Wanna be found forever? We can do that.” Check this article out by Natalie Sission from Social Media Today:
The keyword is the driving force behind building an online business that gives you leads and referrals and generates sales. Tracking keywords that people search for and making sure that you are the most relevant (or at least most prominent) result forms the basic concept behind SEO. So why do so many people get it wrong?
Well, there are a lot of mistakes to make, and a lot of ways to make them. It’s not as simple as picking a keyword, stuffing a site full of it, then building thousands of links back to said site using, you guessed it, that same keyword. And if you’re doing that, you’re doing your keyword research wrong. That seems like a silly mistake that a green web developer would make, right?
But we’re not talking about those green web developers today. We’re talking about all those little mistakes that can, and probably will, creep up in your keyword research at some point. Those seemingly trifling mistakes will kill your web development efforts, before you even figure out what went wrong.
How Keywords Function in the “Blogosphere”
But first, it’s important to understand how bloggers use keywords, and why they’re so important for both your audience and the robots sent by Google to rank your page. In their simplest form, keywords appear in blogs as tags.
Most bloggers like to organize posts based on relevant keywords – ideally so readers can relate information in one blog posts to others. In fact, tags are a perfect way to think of page relevancy in organic traffic results.
If you determine that a particular blog post should be relevant to one or more keywords, the following is generally necessary to make this relevancy clear, both to your readers and from a semantics point of view:
- Your keywords must appear in the title of the post, or the H1 tag on the page (if you use WordPress, the title of your post becomes the H1 tag).
- The keywords must appear periodically within subtitles of the post (also known as your H2 and H3 headers).
- The keywords should appear within relevant content in your post. This means that the keyword must be inserted in content that contextually makes sense (don’t simply insert the keywords in random places, in other words).
- The keywords should appear in your post tags.
- The keywords should appear in any links coming back to the blog post as anchor text.
- The keywords should be included in your post’s URL structure. So, if you’re targeting “spongebob games” with a post titled “How to Find Cheap Spongebob Games,” the URL structure for that post is much more effective as www.myblog.com/find-spongebob-games, than www.myblog.com/post-123-sept15.
So your keyword research almost always begins with an idea on which keywords your blog will target. Once you accomplish that, your research can either confirm that your ideas are good ones, or help you identify areas that you might be better off targeting. But there are many ways you can perform this keyword research incorrectly, and spoil your efforts.
“Spongebob Games” Gets 1.5 Million Searches Per Month
Well, if you believe the heading of this section, you’ve made your first deadly mistake – forgetting to switch the “Match Type” in the Google Adwords Keyword Tool from “Broad” to “Exact.”
After making the switch, we find that the keyword “spongebob games” actually gets about 673,000 searches every month. That’s still some decent search volume, but you have no idea how often the broad results show about 600 searches (a reasonable volume for the beloved long-tail), but the exact shows a big fat zero.
There’s a big difference between broad and exact keywords, especially when talking about conversions. You have to put yourself in the mindset of your customers – they want specifics. If you’re in an industry that can cross into other niches, picking short keyword phrases can cause a lot of confusion. Let’s consider an example using some anchor text:
Now, if you were to click that link, what would you expect to find? Some customers might think of a bright, shiny new prop for their boat’s motor, while others might expect to find some rugby information. Little do they know, you sell movie costumes and props. If you were to use this specific anchor text instead, you’d eliminate confusion and attract targeted traffic.
But this goes even further. Remember, the more specific keywords you have, the less competition you face. There could be millions of different sites targeting the anchor text “props,” but you represent a smaller niche targeting “movie costumes and props.” You are literally competing with entire industries if your keyword research is too broad. So, now that you understand this mistake’s raw power to reduce your website to ruins, what can you do to avoid it?
- Trust in the long-tail. (Vacations for senior citizens in Rhode Island vs. vacations.) Unless you have an enormous budget and around a year to wait, there’s just too much competition for many smaller keyword phrases. You won’t be an overnight millionaire targeting long tail keyword phrases, but you can count on consistent conversions with less effort.
- Really think about what your audience expects. You can rank number one in the SERPs for “props” and sell boat props, but this won’t do you any good if 90% of the searchers expect to find movie props.