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Good keywords are the foundation of any successful online marketing strategy. These terms are what your customers type into search engines to find exactly what they want. Therefore, your website should be optimized around these words to maximize traffic and conversion rates.
If you don’t have the right set of keywords, it will affect the results of everything else you do. It’s going to be more difficult to rank, and it’s very likely that the wrong people will be visiting your pages. A lot of time, money, and effort have been wasted on campaigns with terrible keywords.
This is especially relevant for Local SEO. For example, a service page that’s only been optimized for the keyword “dentistry” will perform poorly, because of how broad and competitive the term is. But if the page uses something more specific, like “teeth whitening in Auckland”, you’re going to rank well for that phrase and gain very targeted, high value leads.
So how do you find the words that will make your website great? Here’s a basic guide to creating your first keyword list.
The Questions You Need to Ask
Keyword research essentially boils down to understanding your company and customer behavior. Asking the following questions will yield some great keywords to structure your website and content strategy around.
- What products and services do you offer? – Make sure to include both general and specific keywords. Example: “camping equipment” and “bug spray” respectively.
- Where does your business operate? – Consider your company’s actual reach, not just its physical location. If you cater to customers in neighboring counties as well, optimizing for those places will bring in valuable leads.
- Who is your ideal customer? – Demographics play a huge role in online marketing. If you don’t have detailed buyer personas yet, you’re working blind.
- What problems or questions do your target customers have? – Highlighting product and service features is nice, but turning curious visitors into paying customers mostly depends on how well you can solve their pains.
- How would you describe your business to the average joe? – Keep in mind that not all customers are familiar with your industry’s jargon. Find out what words people use to get to your website.
These are just the tip of the iceberg; you can easily come up with other angles specific to your industry. If you’re having trouble brainstorming, you can also use keyword research tools. There are plenty online, though they vary in sophistication and depth.
All this should give you a nice set of keywords to start with. Organize them in a spreadsheet, group them into categories, and start planning.
What Really Makes a Good Keyword?
Narrowing the list should be next on your agenda. You should use actual data when choosing which keywords to focus on. In other words, look at the analytics to determine how valuable any given keyword might be; you may also need to experiment for a while to find your own results.
First, your keywords should have an acceptably high search volume. It doesn’t matter how targeted your traffic is if you’re only getting fifty or so hits a month. A large enough market to support your business is the most crucial requirement.
Your keywords can’t be too broad, either. People who search for “cakes” might be planning to order one for a wedding, or they could be looking for recipes to try at home. There’s a huge amount of variance when you use general terms. Remember, you’re after qualified leads, not just page visits.
You also want to avoid keywords that have dual meanings. For instance, “fencing” can either refer to the sport, or to barriers set up around private property. Clarify it with supporting terms, e.g. “beginner fencing gear” or “wood fencing materials”. Make it unequivocally clear what you want to target for each page on your website.
Competition is another important factor. How hard will it be to get on the first page for that keyword? There are many keywords which are essentially “low hanging fruit”; they have high potential value, yet are practically ignored by your competitors. On the other end of the spectrum, there are keywords that are almost impossible for most small businesses to rank for.
With that, you should be ready to make a great, highly effective keyword list.
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