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Every Website content strategy should start with keyword research


The effectiveness of every content SEO strategy largely depends on the quality of the keyword research that has been executed. If you optimize for words that nobody searches for, you won’t be found. If you optimize for terms that are much too competitive to rank for, you won’t be found either. This explains why you should start with keyword research and how you can make sure your keyword research generates optimal results.

 Optimizing for the right words

Every audience uses specific search terms. It’ll make quite the difference whether you’re selling shoes for teenagers or for middle aged housewives. These two target audiences are likely to use different words to search the internet.

For SEO purposes, you should always optimize a text for the words that are used most often by your audience. You’ll have to get into people’s heads for that. Use tools like Google Trends to find out what people are searching for (and which terms they are not using).

 Be realistic

You’ll never instantly rank in niches you’re no expert in. When you’re just starting out in a certain field, optimizing for the most highly competitive keywords is not going to work. You won’t be able to rank on those terms.

If you’ve just launched a site with beautiful new vacation homes in the South of Spain, you shouldn’t aim to rank for ‘vacation Spain’ at first. Find your niche and go for less competitive (and more long tail) search terms like: ‘luxurious vacation home Costa Blanca’. Once you’ve started ranking and attracting traffic on these long tail keywords, you’ll be able to aim for some more head terms as well.

 What is a long tail keywords?

 Long tail keywords are more commonly used in blog posts, they are keywords or key phrases that are more specific.  They are usually longer than more commonly searched for keywords. Long tail keywords get less search traffic, but will usually have a higher conversion value, as they are more specific.

In order to really profit from a keyword strategy focusing on long tail keyword, you should have a clear vision of your company, your product and your website.

This will help you understand the importance of understanding your own product and the effort you should make to rank for long tail keywords.

 What is your mission?

If you want to sell something, you should simply have a very good product! And you should be well aware of what your product or your website offers to your audience… what makes it special. If you know and understand this, it will be much easier to make your audience like and buy your stuff. You should thus take some time to think about the uniqueness of your product and write that down.

For example you sell cruises to Hawaii. You offer great facilities for children, making the cruises especially suitable for young parents or single moms. Offering great cruises to Hawaii for single moms could be the uniqueness of your service. This is your mission, your niche, this is what you have to offer to your audience! Do make sure you write down your mission in words that are used and understood by your audience.

 Competitiveness of the market

In some markets, it is really hard to rank. Some markets are just highly competitive, with large companies dominating the search results. These companies have a very large budget to spend on marketing in general and SEO specifically. Ranking in these markets is hard. You will be unable to compete on a small budget in a market like for example the travel industry using search terms like Vacation Hawaii.

However, if you have your mission clear, you should be able to define what makes your product or website stand out from this market. You should be able to find your niche.  And you should use YOUR mission in order to start ranking! Taking the example of cruises for single moms to Hawaii would mean that you should focus on the less competitive term [single mom cruises Hawaii]. Again, use words that are used by your target audience (and avoid difficult terminologies).  Use Google trends to do that.

Use your mission to define long tail keywords

The definition of your mission, in which you make crystal clear what the awesomeness of your product, site or blog is, should be central in choosing the long tail keywords you want to rank for. Trying to make your website rank for a specific term can be quite profitable, as long as this specific term closely resembles the product you’re selling. The terms you have used to describe your mission can be nicely used to focus on in your SEO strategy. These words should be central in the long tail keywords you aim your website to rank for. People using the terms of your mission and finding your website will be relatively small in volume, but these people do have the highest chances to buy your product or to become regular visitors.

 One head theme, lots of tail topics

Most blogs have one main topic. The main topic or theme of your blog is the number one keyword (or key phrase) you want people to use to find you.

Imagine yourself having a food blog about homemade Italian food. You would then like to be found on a search term like ‘homemade Italian food’. That would pretty much be the number one.

You cannot, however, optimize all blog posts for the term homemade Italian food. Even if all your blog posts will be about homemade Italian food. Instead, you should write a whole number of blog posts about all kinds of long tail variants of your number one search term. In the example of the food blog, you could write about all kind of delicious things: homemade Italian pasta, homemade Italian salads, homemade Italian pie. These could be your main categories. Your blog posts could even be more long tail. You could write about: homemade Italian spaghetti bolognese, homemade Italian lasagna, homemade Italian penne carbonara and so on.

 Link from the tail to the head!

If you optimize your blog post for different long tail variants, you should link from these blog posts to your more ‘head’ category pages and from these category pages to your most awesome page. Remember: always link from the tail to your head! That way, you show Google what the structure of your site is and which of your pages is most important.

Make sure your most amazing pages rank high in Google! Perhaps you have a fabulous page with your most delicious recipes, which will immediately convert passing visitors into loyal blog followers. Make sure your different long tail optimized blog posts all link to this most important ‘head’ pages of your blog.

 Long tail keywords and ranking

It is much easier to rank for long tail keywords than for more common keywords. Another benefit for focussing on long tail keywords is that, although these keywords are used less in search, the visitor that finds your website using them is more likely to buy your service or product.

The longer and more specific the search terms are, the higher the chances of conversion are. For example, let say you are looking for a cottage in France to spend the next summer vacation. You start your search with the term ‘vacation France’.  Upon searching on those terms, you quickly discover that Dordogne in France is the place you want to go, and you preferred a house in the countryside. Your search still continues, but now you use terms like [vacation house countryside Dordogne]. A long tail keyword. Using this keyword, you find new sites, which more closely resembled your vacation wishes. Chances for you to book the vacation largely increased with the more specific long tail keyword.

 Choosing the perfect focus keyword

 Adding quality content to your website on a regular basis is a very good SEO tactic. Google sees that your website is active because new pieces of information are added. On top of that, you increase the volume of your content. If your keyword strategy has been crafted properly and your content is nicely optimized for the right keywords, adding content will increase your findability. But how to choose the perfect focus keyword? Especially when you’re blogging and focussing on long tail keywords, it can be quite hard to decide which keywords to optimize for.

What is the focus keyword?

The focus keyword is the keyword that you want your page to rank for, so when people search for that keyword, they’ll find you.

Please note that keywords work per page not necessarily for the whole website. For example, you have a service on Financial planning and that is the main topic, but you cannot optimize all blog posts and content for the word Financial planning.  Instead you can write about all other Financial planning ideas:  Financial planning tips, financial planning advisors, financial planning services, financial planning performance etc.

Choose a focus keyword that is used to search

Your keyword strategy should have given you some idea what you want to write about.  When choosing keyword for your website the keywords will be short and specific, but for blog posts you will aim for long tail keywords that contain specific keywords in your website.

Google will give you an idea of keywords searched for the most in the Google suggest drop down menu.  These are terms and combinations of words that are logical and used by actual people to search on the web. This tool can be very helpful in giving you some first ideas about the search behaviour of people in the area you want to write about.

Suggest changes based on the problems people have, so monitoring it for important keywords makes sense.

Discover some information about search volume

Once you have found a long tail search term you would like to start ranking for, you should put some effort into discovering whether or not the search volume of your chosen focus keyword is high. Google makes this really hard. The only way to know ‘for sure’ how often a search term is used, is by having an active and alive AdWords account and by bidding on the search term of your choice. This can become very expensive and most people opt to grow organically.

Using Google Trends should give at least some idea, in a creative way, about search volume. Google Trends allows you to compare the search volume between two search terms over time. This will give some insights in the volume of the search terms people use (always relative to another term).

 Check posts that already rank

If you already have some blog posts that rank well for good terms, you will know how many visitors these posts attract. Using Google Trends to compare the focus keywords of older posts (of which at least the number of visitors to your website is known) with the focus keyword you have in mind for your new post, could give you some idea about the potential of traffic this new focus keyword could have. Make sure to choose older posts that are most similar to the post you’re planning to write: if you’re planning to choose a long tail keyword, compare posts with long tail focus keywords as well.

 Google your proposed focus keyword!

Apart from knowing which search terms are actually used by people, you need to know whether or not your idea for your post or page fits the desires and expectations of the people who use the search terms. The best way to find out whether or not your content fits these desires is to Google your proposed (sets of) keywords yourself.

Take the time to look at the first two result pages. Are the articles Google shows of the same character that your article will be like? Does your website fit between the results shown in these result pages? If you decide to write your blogpost or page, while optimizing for this exact focus keyword, you are aiming for a display of your page amongst these.

Make sure to use the content of the result pages as an inspiration for your blog post. Are there any useful ideas (we are NOT encouraging to copy content, merely to see whether you perhaps missed some information or arguments for your own blog post)? But more importantly: how can you make sure your post will stand out? In what way could your post be better, funnier, more original than the post presently displayed in the result pages. Try to think of content that will make the audience click and share!

Should every page have a focus keyword?

Should our about page or our contact page have a focus keyword? What should it be?

The answer is easy: not every page needs a focus keyword. Your contact page should be easily reachable, it might for instance need to rank for “<company name> address”. That probably doesn’t make sense as a focus keyword though and it’s perfectly fine to leave it empty.

 Picking a focus keyword is not easy

Choosing a perfect focus keyword is not an exact science. You should aim for a combination of words that are actually used by a search audience. Aim for a focus keyword that is relatively high on volume and aim for one that will fit your audience.

Your next step is writing awesome content

After you have done your keyword research and you know which keywords you would like to rank for, you’ll have to start creating content. Creating content can be quite challenging. Check this out

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