Plus, How to use Keywords in Your Content Marketing
As I prepared for a recent workshop on which this post is based, a friend suggested to me to cut out the explanation of keywords.
“Everyone knows what they are,” he said.
Hmm, I thought, maybe he’s right. Everyone has to know by now what the term means. After all, there are 2.68 billion people worldwide using the Internet; 266 million of them in the U.S alone. That’s out of a population of 320.2 million. The number one way people search for information, services, products, or anything really, is by typing words into Google’s search bar, right?
Well, as I discovered during the workshop, which was mainly filled with people 40 years old and up, is though they may use the Internet as much as generations born in the digital age, they don’t exactly know the technical terms related to their use, or how everything works.
That may be okay for many, but not for business owners. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or part of a larger organization, if you want to succeed in marketing your business online, you’ve got to know the basics of search engine optimization, social media marketing, content engagement, and overall how to build a Web Presence.
And the first place one needs to start before building a Website or blog, or setting up social media pages, is to do keyword research.
What Are Keywords?
So let’s start with the definition of “keyword,” as per the New Oxford American Dictionary: “An informative word used in an information retrieval system to indicate the content of a document.”
In other words, for our purposes, keywords are terms users type into a search bar on the Internet to find information, products, or services.
Search portals are located on major sites like Google or Bing, as well as on social media sites, YouTube, and even on business and personal Websites.
Why Keywords are Important
Keywords are the primary way people search for products, services, information, or entertainment.
If your site or blog is not optimized with keywords, how are people going to find your business online?
The answer is they probably won’t, unless you offer a rare service or product.
And despite Google’s algorithm changes and the mantra by some search engine marketers: use of keywords in search engine optimization is not dead.
One important thing to remember when using keywords: don’t focus on stuffing your content and sites with keywords. While it’s necessary to use them, your content first and foremost must be original and of value to the reader.
As Dave Lloyd, senior manager of Global Search Marketing at Adobe Systems, wrote on his blog recently:
So when naysayers decry the end of keyword-based SEO, remember: it’s not the demise of keyword optimization, the game has simply changed to once again focus on page-level and content-focused optimization.”
So Keep in Mind:
Keywords alone do not make for good SEO: you must have high quality, useful, educational, informational, and, yes, sometimes entertaining content.
Free ways to do keyword research
First establish the goals of your Website/business:
- Who is your target audience?
- Where are you located?
- Where is your target audience located?
- What are they looking for, or what do they need?
- Do your goals, and what you offer align with what they need?
- Do the search terms they use match the content of your site?
In doing this, you’ll come up with a list of words and phrases that describe your business, and your products and/or services. List these all in a spreadsheet. Remember: there are short and long-tail keywords. Meaning a person can use anywhere from two words to whole phrases to look for something, i.e.: “homes for sale in Canoga Park, ca” is a long-tail keyword, as opposed to the short tail, “homes for sale.”
Research competitors in your target demographic, and look at their:
- Page titles
- About page
- All other pages and their content
- Behind the scenes. look at:
- Optimized Page titles
- Page meta-descriptions
- Meta keywords
Here’s a short video that shows you how to use Inspect Element in Chrome to see what’s behind the scenes of a Website.
Ask Existing Customers
As you would when doing research for your social media strategy to find your target audience, you can do the same with your SEO. Ask current or past customers what terms they used to find you, or another business on the Web.
After coming up with some ideas on keywords related to your industry and your specific services or products, you’ll now want to find out how competitive they are.
Follow these step using Google search:
- Do a normal search with keywords you want to research.
- Look at the number of search results: this is the number of Websites that have this keyword phrase on one or more pages, intentionally or not.
- Now do the search for the same phrase, but using the command: allintitle:”homes for sale in canoga park.” This is telling Google to only look for pages with that term in the page title.
- The search result number is the number of pages that have been optimized with this phrase in their title. It’s a high number for the search I did, but not as high as the broad search. So it may be an okay keyword to use.
- Do this with all your keywords to find the optimum search terms to use to for your Website, blog, social media profiles, and your blog content.
How to use keywords in your content marketing
Websites & Blogs
Every single page of your Website, and every single blog post, should be centered on one or more keywords.
Keywords should be placed on all of the below listed sections of a page or post. If you hire someone to build your site, give them your keywords and let them know what pages you want optimized with which keywords.
Tip: Make sure you focus on a different main keyword for each page, so as to avoid duplicate title and content, which will lower your traffic and rankings.
Page Title: title tags
- If you use a platform such as WordPress, with an SEO plugin tool, or with a theme-installed SEO tool, you can customize page title tags, meta descriptions and the body of page.
- This is an HTML, or behind the scenes code element that describes your page to search engines. It tells search engines what your page is about.
- Further optimize your page by inputting meta keywords. While Google says it doesn’t pay attention to meta keywords, other search engines do.
Body of page
- The main content of your page, which readers will see, should contain at least 1.5% keyword density. For every 500 words, you should have at least seven keywords throughout the page content. But remember! Your content has to be great. Don’t use keywords unnaturally.
We’ll use Facebook as an example, but all your social media profiles should be optimized similarly. Sites like Twitter give you very little space for description, but I’ve seen some creative keyword use on that social media site.
- Page Name
- Your Facebook Business Page name will show up in searches, and can be either your company name, or it could be the name of your company blog. Either way, if you can get an important keyword in there, as in the example image, it would be best.
- The URL, or Web address, has always been important in SEO. However, Google recently announced it would pay more attention to page titles, than URLs. Still, it’s best to optimize it with a keyword.
- Short description
- The short description will be one of the first things visitors will see on your page. It also adds to overall SEO for the page, so use your keywords here, and in the following sections.
- You can expand your company’s information, and use more keywords in this section.
- Longer Description
- The longer description gives you the opportunity to really go to town with your keywords, but again, it’s got to be natural, and useful information.
Author Profiles on Industry Sites
For real estate professionals, you most likely, or should, have your profile on industry sites like Trulia, Zillow, National Association of Realtors and others. Follow the same rules as per your social media pages, and use relevant keywords throughout your profile and business descriptions.
For other types of businesses, search the Web for associations, boards and other types of member community sites in your industry. See if you can list your profile in any of them.
One more important tip!
Don’t forget to put your website or blog link on all your social media and profile pages so people will know where to find more info about your business.
Before you lift a finger to build a website, blog or create a social media profile, do your keyword research. Doing so will help you optimize all your online assets and content for maximum discovery in search engines, and other search portals.