Today, we’re talking about the process of choosing your keywords for the search engine optimization of your website.
SEO has gone through a lot of transformations in the last decade and in the beginning stages it was relatively easy to over-optimize the site, focus on keywords and rank your site high in search results.
This might have been easy and convenient for business owners but over-optimization was detrimental to the overall visitor experience.
Nowadays, things have changed. Google has become a lot smarter and it’s not as easy to rank high and it’s definitely not possible to do so by over-optimizing your website.
But regardless of the different changes that SEO has gone through, SEO is still about keywords. There’s a lot of focus currently under creation of quality content because this leads to an improvement of the visitor journey on the site and obviously of the visitor statistics like pages per visit, average visit duration, bounce rate and so on.
Quality content also means shareable content.
The principle behind this concept is that if visitors find content interesting, they will share it. So quality helpful content is beneficial to all parties concerned; the visitor because he or she finds quality information; the site owner because the site traffic volume and quality will improve; and the search engines because they can present visitors with results that make sense and answer user queries.
But keywords still play a major role because you want to create content around key phrases and Topics that are searched for by your Ideal Customer and that you can rank for. So you want keywords that are relevant for your site and that can produce high traffic volumes.
Finally, you want keywords that have a low to medium competition level especially for a new site. Why is that? Because your new website cannot compete with well-established sites from day one. This takes time. Again, one of the main principles of SEO is that it is not a quick process that can be done overnight and it should be consistent. Optimising your website never stops and everything starts with a keyword research.
SEO Keyword Research – Choosing the right keywords
OK. So let’s get back to the process of choosing your keywords. How do you choose the right keywords for your website?
First you need to consider what your business type is, what your company is about, your products and services.
Having done that, start listing keywords that are relevant to your business. At this stage of the keyword selection, you want it to be as broad as possible. So don’t limit the number of keywords.
List everything that makes sense and that you can think of. After all, you know your business best.
Next, you want to use keyword research tools to expand your keyword list. Use the suggestion provided by these tools and to check keyword search volumes for all these keywords you have listed so far.
When checking keyword search volumes, you want to check for the exact match. Don’t worry. I will detail more about this in another article covering the tools for keyword research. But the exact match means that you want to check the search volume for that exact expression.
Nothing in front of it or at the end because you want to make sure that the lowest possible search volume is still high enough to bring you relevant traffic.
To give you an example, let’s say that you want to find the search volume for the phrase “office cleaning services in Kenya”. The exact match type means that you want to find a search volume for this exact expression with the words in the exact order mentioned, nothing else.
There are other types of matches too. The phrase match for example which gives you the search volume for the exact structure of your expression with the words“office cleaning services ” in this exact order. But searches can also contain any words in front or at the end of the expression.
The other match type is broad match where words can appear in any order and sometimes only some words appear in searches. As you’ve probably guessed, this is the least relevant type of match when doing keyword research.
Competition Analysis – Check the competition for the phrases you listed.
Do a search on Google and see what the number of search results is. But checking the competition means also checking the type of websites.
For example, if you have a new website and you want to rank high for “office cleaning services ” and on the first result page you find only well-established websites like Wikipedia or Cleaning sites with Page Ranks of five or six or even higher.
By the way I should mention that Page Rank is the trust awarded to a website by Google based on the number, the type and quality of backlinks pointing towards that website.
So if you want to rank high for your expression and you find on the first page only sites like Wikipedia or cleaning sites with Page Ranks of five, six or higher, then your chances to rank on the first page are slim.
You may want to find the expressions that have a lower competition volume and this applies above all to new websites.
So, focus on keywords that have low to medium competition levels and try to avoid educational domains, government websites or well-established websites, especially if they target specifically the keywords you want to focus on.
Tip: Add localised citations to the keywords i.e “office cleaning services in Nairobi”
Next, based on all the information you have so far, select one to three keywords that best describe your business that you want to be found for. These are your main keywords that you will use consistently throughout your website especially on the company pages to describe your business, services and products.
When writing your content, consider also using synonyms, variations of your keywords or complimentary terms to those you selected.
The next stage for SEO is semantic search and this is using that concept for your content development strategy. Don’t worry. We will talk more about semantic search in a dedicated article. Just to clarify it briefly, it’s about improving search accuracy by matching user intent with results.
Do the same for each of your main category (Topic) pages. Choose one or two keywords to describe the category of products or services. You will want to use these keywords consistently on your main category pages and on the subpages associated to it. For example, the product or services pages within that category.
Create a keyword structure for your whole website. You will be able to use this structure for your content development in the future as well and for any other integrated marketing activities on social networks, page search and so on.
There you have it. This is the keyword research and implementation.
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Note a down a list of 10- 20 keywords relevant to your business that a customer would type into a search engine and I will see you in part 2.