Someone out there is looking for you – how easy are you to find?
The typical web user begins and ends his search with the first page of Google results (and, to a much lesser extent, the second page). And so the keyword ranking obsession begins.
The secret to getting high rankings and found online? It’s simple: you first have to choose good keywords, and then use them correctly. So when developing your SEO strategy, pay attention to these 5 keyword ranking considerations:
1) Discovering Keyword Ranking
Intuition is a wonderful thing, but it won’t necessarily net you the keywords that lead to high search engine rankings. It is imperative that you determine what keywords you currently rank for, determine the actual business value of those words and then research and find the best keywords where ranking well will actually have business value in terms of a group of factors that impact return on investment.
If you are a florist, for instance, you may assume that “florist” is the best keyword choice and use that word exclusively … but your thousands of other florists had the same idea and have beaten you to the punch with far more content optimized around this keyword. Also, your target customers may be searching on “flower shop” instead. How do you choose from the infinite number of possibilities?
The short answer here is to home in on the user expectations combined with what you offer and can do better than your competitors and then arrive at a sensible mix of keywords that meet four criteria. A decent amount of monthly search volume (doesn't have to be millions or even hundreds), relevancy to your business, commercial value (someone using this term is more likely seeking to buy something you sell versus seeking information only) and competition for it isn't too high.
Yes, you do have to use words people are typing into engines but online search is far more intuitive these days. Please don't fall for the "rank #1 for this or that keyword" fear tactics that flood the email boxes of business owners in droves. Search results take into account what the engine "knows" about the person searching and factors this data into a complex recipe for sorting through the thousands of possibilities. Engines also place a lot of expectations on businesses to deliver website code in particular ways. They provide a long list of guidelines and expect businesses to follow them.
2) Going short or long
One of the top SEO tips you will hear us stress time and again is concentrating on long-tail keywords. Long tail keywords are keyword phrases that usually consist of two to five words. They are the phrases you use when searching for something specific. There are fewer searches and therefore less traffic for these keywords BUT they get the attention of more qualified traffic. Who cares if 100,000 people are searching for shoes if you only sell waterproof hiking boots? You want the traffic looking specifically for waterproof hiking boots. There is a lot of debate on this approach but when you're building a website for the long haul, taking this path benefits you in so many ways beyond simply getting web traffic for meeting business objectives. Your sales staff can use content on your website to help keep the selling process moving forward, customers can find answers to their questions or refer other people to your website to get help with their problems, and it gives you a means to "look alive" to site visitors by constantly adding updated content.
Once you discover the keywords that your target audience is most likely to use in searches, you can decide whether to build your content on short-tail (one or two words) or long-tail (three words and more) keywords. Usually it will be a mixture.
Short-tail keywords of one or two words are useful for generating high numbers of results, and if your short-tail is highly strategic and unusual, you could be rewarded with high rankings. However, the risk is just as high that your site could be buried under countless other results using the same short-tail.
According to an SEOmoz article, by 2010 more than half of Google searches were long-tails, consisting of four words or more. The development suggests that users are becoming more detailed with their queries, having seen what kind of massive results can come from short-tail entries. Long-tails net fewer, but more targeted results. By 2015 engines are going even deeper and seeking to answer questions rather than limiting results to keyword sets.
3) Getting the most from your top keywords
You worked hard to discover your top keywords – now put them to good use.
They will naturally appear on your site’s homepage and landing pages, but don’t overlook your inbound marketing content, either. Use your keywords in blogs, whitepapers, social media posts, alt text for images and video descriptions – all of which could help improve your rankings and boost awareness of your site. Use them though, don't overuse them. Speak naturally and don't repeat the words more than 2 or three times on a page. In fact, the old tactics of bolding and underlining words and even crafty, nicely-flowing content that repeats the word more than three times can actually get your website pushed down or even completely out of consideration by the engines. No manipulation - just quality, helpful consistent use of language.
4) Measuring success
The world of search enginge optimization on keyword ranking strategy is an ever-evolving one, so the ideal SEO choices of today may not work as well tomorrow. Find tools that help to determine monthly searches and difficulty scores. If 50,000 are searching for one of your top keywords, that is great right? Probably not. If the keyword is hard to rank for you may never even reach the top 100 results with that term. Don't fall for the scare tactics that suggest you must rank number one for any particular keyword to have online success, it simply isn't true. Fixing a long list of technical issues on your website might not help you either, the best recipe will be one that involves a lot of variables that have varying degrees of priority and it won't be simple and straightforward.
A work in progress -- always!
Like your business, good keywords are destined to grow and change over time. Keeping up with user trends reflects your commitment to getting found on the internet, so that you can get your products or services seen by the people who will benefit from them the most.