Over 90% of people use search engines for product research, which means that search engine optimization (SEO) is more important than ever for your business.
The phrases that people use when they search are known as “keywords” and a good keyword strategy will help you systematically ensure that your website is using the right phrases to describe your service/product, and the phrases that people are searching for.
This blog post will provide a 5-step introduction to finding the right keywords, creating relevant content and tracking your results for your startup.
1. Brainstorm a List of Keywords Related to Your Product/Service
For each service or product your business offer, think of 5-10 keywords or phrases that a potential customer might search for when they are interested in that service.
For example, suppose you offer website development for small businesses. Some phrases a business owner who’s considering a new website would search for could be:
- website development services
- custom website development
- web design company
- affordable website developers
- what makes a good website
Notice that we didn’t just focus on the name of the service (“website development”), we also considered questions that the potential customer might have about the service or product (“what makes a good website?”)
2. Check Frequency & Difficulty
After you’ve come up with the list of keywords, you need to check if people actually search for that product/service and if they search using other related phrases you should be aware of.
Using Google Keyword Planner, we enter the phrases we brainstormed and the tool will output the estimated searches per month on the keywords you entered, as well as related keywords.
A higher number of monthly searches generally indicates more interest on that topic. On the other hand, if there’s no data in the “Avg. monthly searches” column, it means that people aren’t look for that product or they are looking for it under a different phrase. Your content will get less traction if you centre it around a phrase no one searches for.
It’s great if lots of people are searching for a product you offer, like website development, but chances are that lots of other companies offer the same thing, and it’s a commonly written about topic on blogs and tutorial websites. This makes it the phrase very competitive to rank for because there’s so much content on the topic already.
To gauge how competitive a term is, check the search results for that term by searching for it in a search engine or Google. Are all the results on the first and second from large and reputable websites that you recognize? It’d be difficult to displace any of these results, especially if you’re a new and small company. As you look through the results for the various keywords, you’ll most likely find that the keywords that are most specific, with lower volume, will have less competitive results.
If you’re a new company, with a limited amount of resources, the most effective strategy could be to choose phrases with fewer searches, but have less competition.
In our example, it might be challenging for any new company be on the first, second or third page of “website development services”, but it might be more plausible for “what makes a good website”.
3. Consider Keywords When Designing Your Website
Your company website should have at least one page dedicated to each product or service you offer. We mentioned above that it might be hard to rank well for “website development services”, or even “website development services in New York”, but this is still a page your website needs to have in order to describe your services to potential customers.
For more specific phrases, such as “what makes a good website” in our example, you may not have a page under services/products, since it’s not an offering you provide. However, a phrase like this may be something that potential customers will search for as they look for a website development services, so you can address these specific phrases or questions in the form of blog posts instead.
4. Don’t Forget the Reader Experience
When creating content, always write for the reader, not search engines. Ask yourself what your potential customer would find useful, interesting, shareable and educational.
Consider what questions or challenges they might be facing and provide answers that will genuinely give insight to them. Not only will this make you seem more trustworthy, it makes your content more shareable and more likely they will bookmark the page or return to your website for more information. A blog post that answers the “what makes a good website” question is a great example of what could be an educational blog post.
When gauging the quality of the content you’re providing, search for that topic and look at the results that come up. How do those existing results compare with the content you’ve created? Would you, yourself, click on your page over these other existing results? If what you’ve created isn’t more helpful, thorough or have a different angle, it’s unlikely you’ll find your way up to the existing results, especially if your website or company is brand new.
5. Tracking Results
Measuring your rankings for different keywords and your website traffic from search engines are two ways to track your progress over time.
There aren’t many free tools that allow you to track results over time. If you’re only tracking a few keywords, you can manually check the results yourself. If you’re tracking more, then it might be worth it to invest in tools like Moz ($99 per month), which checks the results for hundreds of keywords on a weekly basis.
You can also gauge using Google Analytics which shows you how much of your website traffic was from search engines. A rise number of visits from organic search should indicate that your pages and blog posts are getting found more often.
Developing a keyword strategy that makes sense for your business can take a lot of time upfront. However, having a plan will help guide the content you create and ensure you get the most out of your efforts.
- The Beginner’s Guide to SEO (Moz)
- Branding and Your Keyword Strategy (Yoast)
- Is Your Content Strategy Guided by Audience Intent (or Just Keywords)? (Moz)
- How User Intent Will Forever Inform Successful Keyword Strategies(Search Engine Land)
For more tips on inbound marketing and search engine optimization, please follow us on Twitter at @vapartners.