The internet has transformed the way that people gain information about and purchase products. As consumers become more and more price conscious, competition increases to capture, engage and turn searchers into customers. Not too long ago, the means of reaching your target market were via print, radio, TV or direct mail advertising. While these still are very effective and should be a part of your overall marketing plan, you cannot ignore that more and more consumers turn to the internet to assist with their search and decision making process. In order to remain competitive a small business must be able to identify their target market and be found where they are well received.
Search engine optimization has changed with the different types of search (local, real time, personalized, social and mobile searches) and with now having to optimize for Bing. We know that search engines rank websites according to the relevance of the content to the search terms and that this matching will yield the best results for better quality leads. But with all the available search options for users, how, as a small business owner, do you determine the best keywords for your business? There are hundreds if not thousands of articles on how to optimize your site and blog which can be overwhelming and also redundant. It is not as simple as reading a few articles and picking some industry terms that match what you do and writing copy around those terms and presto, you have a #1 ranking.
Keyword research is ongoing as in the beginning stages it is a crucial part in developing your content as you are writing for the user but yet if the search engine spiders are not biting, there may not be an opportunity to reach the user. Then, once you have a garnered a few rankings, it is beneficial to analyze those and see where you can bump those up higher. When thinking about developing your website, a focus is on the navigation bar and what will be the main terms. Generally they are Home, About Us, Services, Blog and Contact. These are pretty much standard with the occasional deviation to core term to differentiate. However, the real focus for many in the navigation is what comes next as the sub-menus. When developing web pages and blog articles, the key is to assign core keyword phrases to each of the pages (almost a synonym to a topic however the difference is topic is tends to be singular where core keywords expand further to relevancy ) to create a search friendly site. Assigning a core keyword is not only a great means of organizing your content, it builds authority as the content on the page is staying true to the topic.
How to Create Core Keyword Phrases
1. Identify. Identifying core keywords starts with brainstorming and writing down terms that are your offerings are. What really do you do, what do you want people to know about what you do and does this translate into words. Think of this in 3-4 words and not single words. Jot down questions:
- What are terms associated with my industry?
- What terms does my target associate with my industry?
- How are people searching – ie asking questions How to x? What is x?, etc.
- What are geographical identifiers that are used locally and also out of the local market? ie Las Vegas or Vegas
- What questions do you have answers to?
Some of these are not answered with straight answers but lead to more questions that are search terms. You want to rank for search terms that are relevant to your offering and if happens to be How to Install a bike seat then that is what your core keywords are. Take this a bit further by asking your customers, do some competitive research to see what competition is doing and ranking for. Keywords are important so do your homework to select the most relevant for your company an offering.
2. Extract. Now that you have your list, pull out ones that you match your offering and ones that you can dedicate a page to. These will vary from specific user defined and product/service qualifier terms and branch out to broader terms. Think about how you search and how that translates into your industry and what people who are at different points in their buying cycle or even knowledge and what they may be searching for to get the information that they need.
3. Analyze. Plug the extracted keywords from your list into keyword tools to see the search volume and how difficult they are to rank for. We know that the search volume is not always 100% accurate but it gives you an idea of how popular the term is. Simple variations do change the search volume so to be sure to check all variations to see what terms you have the best chance to rank the highest for.
4. Navigate. Create a low chart or something or the like that outlines your navigation for the selected core keyword phrases to see how the pages will flow. With proper optimization, users are finding the site though a search query but you also need to consider where you want them to go once they are on the site. Create the pages so that they are a natural sequence with internal links to take them to the next page easily and quickly.
5. Write. Create copy that focuses on the benefits and not the features to connect emotional and appeals to their needs and wants. Grab their attention with content that is very relevant to their search query but also keeps their attention so that they do not have to go elsewhere to find more information. Use one core keyword phrases/questions per page and try to avoid single keywords words. Read the content over to ensure it is is read easily and has a good keyword density. It is very inviting to try and force the terms so that it appears to be a really good match to what they are searching for but this never reads right. Read the content out loud and if you hesitate and find yourself saying something too often – change it.
6. Internal Linking. Internal links are necessary to help navigate people to where you want them to go. It is nice to think that users will come to your site and look at every page but we know that is not practical. Link to pages that are similar and expand further on the core keyword phrases. If you are not linking to the pages then why should anyone else?
Users are searching because they want information to help them whether that be on where to purchase, a push to help them make their decision to purchase or to refer back to. Just being found is not enough as you have to produce results once you are clicked. Content is a big part but if the content does not pay attention to what people are looking for, then the content goes unnoticed.
Once the site is up and running, keep close eye on your statistics as you will be able to see what people are searching for to find you, where you rank for those terms and how you can boost those rankings. Make necessary adjustments to meet the needs of users. Monitor industry terms and trends and know how your target talks. Terms you may use do not always match to what customers or potential customers are saying. Adjust to them and do not think they will adjust to what you want them to call it or search for.
How have core keyword phrases worked for you as opposed to optimizing for single keywords? Do your pages focus on one core keyword phrase or have you combined phrases? Has this worked?
photo credit: gsqi