What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the number of visitors to your website through organic search results.
The goal with SEO is to be found by your ideal audience as they search the internet for what you offer.
Good SEO = High ranking on Google search results
Google’s mission is to provide the best results for any given search. And it defines what websites are best by their relevance and authority.
An SEO strategy involves making improvements (boosting relevance and authority) to each page and post on your website. These improvements then increase your ranking and hopefully bring more traffic to your site.
What is an SEO keyword?
There are several factors that contribute to a successful SEO strategy. Check out my blog post here to read about these factors and how to implement them into your site.
Authority can take time to establish. Google wants to see that you know what you’re talking about. This is typically determined by the quantity and quality of backlinks – other sites linking to yours – but relevance can be determined by you through the use of keywords.
An SEO keyword is the key word(s) and/or phrase(s) that define what your web content is about. Essentially, the words a user types into their google search bar. Keywords are important in building relevance because they connect you to your client’s need.
How to Choose SEO keywords?
When choosing SEO keywords, it’s important that you think like your ideal audience. Put yourself in their shoes. What exactly are they searching for?
Say you run an online jewelry boutique. Your audience probably isn’t searching for “jewelry boutique”. They’re searching for “gold earrings”, “silver bracelet”, “diamond necklace”.
The keyword “jewelry boutique” is also way too general. Chances are you’ll be lost in the sea of millions of websites Google matches with that term. The more specific you can be with your SEO keywords the better. You’ll improve your chances of ranking higher and get higher quality traffic to your site.
Don’t forget, each page and post on your website can have its own unique keyword(s). You’re not stuck with choosing just one! But how do you know if your choosing the right ones?
Step One: Brainstorm a master list
Think of every keyword that your audience may possibly search for. These can be general and more specific. Get it all out.
Consider words that relate to your service, your title and your location. Think about any specialities you offer that your audience may include in their search. Combine and alternate these phrases.
For example, if your a florist in West Hartford, Connecticut, some ideas would be “flowers”, “floral arrangements”, “florist, “West Hartford”, “CT”.
Step Two: Do Some Research
You can do some preliminary research to see what exactly people are searching for by what auto populates in the search field. Take one of your more general keywords, for example “florist”, and type it into the search bar in Google. You’ll see that “florist west hartford” comes up; it’s a popular keyword. Great!
Now search “west hartford florist” and you’ll get some good insight. The word “delivery” was added; it’s something a lot of people are searching for. If you offer delivery in your business, make sure you add this keyword to your list and use it often in your website content. You’ll also notice “flower nursery” and the zip code “06107” are popular alternative search terms for “florist” and “west hartford”. Make sure your using them in your website content as well.
We can take this a step further even. Try typing in “florist for” and see what comes up. The word “wedding” makes a frequent appearance. We also see “funeral” and “valentines day”. If these occasions match the services you offer, boom! Add these keywords to your list!
We can also use preliminary research to eliminate some keywords that may not work well in our favor. For example, if we type in “flowers” you’ll see a lot of search terms that are completely unrelated to your florist business. Cross this keyword off your list.
In addition to what auto populates in the search bar, use the “searches related to” feature at the bottom of the search results page. For “florist for wedding” we can see people are also searching for “wedding flowers ideas”, “affordable wedding florist” and so on. Include any new words you discover into your keyword list and try to think of how you can incorporate them into your content.
Pinterest is also a great resource to gain some insight into effective SEO keywords – if you use Pinterest in your marketing. The search suggestions can provide you with some great ideas for future blog posts.
Let’s say you write a blog about interior design. You’ll notice if you search “interior design” a list of additional keywords shows up. “Apartment” is the first, and most searched, term. When you click that and you’ll get another list. Keep going and you’ll see that a lot of Pinterest users are searching for how to decorate their apartment on a budget. By writing a blog post on that subject you can gain a lot of traffic to your website.
Step Three: Get Specific
Now that you have a pretty solid list of SEO keywords, it’s time to make them as specific as you can. Really get in the head of your target audience and think like they would. What styles are they attracted to? How much are they willing to spend? What speciality are they interested in? Dig deep here to truly connect your dream client to you.
Some ideas for our florist example could be:
“farmhouse wedding flowers ct”
“rustic barn wedding floral arrangement”
“wedding flowers under $1000”
These phrases may not auto populate in Google, but that’s OK! That actually means you’re facing less competition in the search results. Ultimately, you want high quality traffic to your website. That means people that are likely to purchase from you. By narrowing down your keywords you will have a higher chance of ranking for exactly what your audience is looking for.
Step Four: Use your keywords
The only way for Google to know you want to rank for these keywords is for you to use them throughout your website. Decide which keyword(s) will be your focus for each page on your site. You’ll probably want to use several for your homepage. Make sure your chosen keyword(s) is used in all the right places including the page title, url, and image alt text. You’ll also want to use your keyword throughout the body text on the page. Be sure you use the word frequently but naturally. Google has gotten pretty smart over the years and can tell if your keyword “stuffing”, or over using the term in order to gain rank.
In my SEO Basics blog post I cover all the areas in which you should be inserting your keywords.
If your website is on WordPress I highly recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin. The plugin grades each page of your site based on how well you are implementing your chosen keyword. It even offers suggestions for you to improve.
By strategically choosing effective keywords for your ideal audience you’ll establish relevance for what they are searching for. A keyword focused strategy is also helpful in gaining authority which will boost your ranking even higher. The more you show up in search results (with valuable content!) the more likely others are to share it. The more shares and backlinks you have the more credible you are in the eyes of Google.