Google has kept inbound marketers on their toes with periodical algorithm changes; however, one thing has stayed rather consistent for those who are looking to optimize for SEO: keyword research. The need to perform keyword research has stayed the same, though the process has changed. In this blog post, I will lay out a process you can use to incorporate a strong keyword strategy that can help you come up with and narrow down a list of terms you want to rank for.
The first step is to develop your keyword repertoire to include as many keywords as you can. I am certain you already have an idea of some words people search to find your business. Let's say you own an E-Commerce business selling luxury towels, the first term that comes to your mind might be "luxury towels" or even "high end luxury towels." Add these to your list.
Begin to think of different variations of these terms. Don't forget to add locations to the keywords if your business targets specific geographic regions. For example, you might use "CT luxury towels" if you are operating out of Connecticut. At this point in the process, don't worry about the quality of the keywords: we will be combing them through later.
After you run out of ideas, it may be beneficial to talk with your clients. Ask them what keywords phrases they would use to find your business. They might surprise you and tell you that they prefer searching certain types of towels like "hand towels," rather than the generic term. You should have a decent sized list of keywords by now and you can always add additional material to it by accessing free keyword research tools.
Now you must rank the keywords on your list based on their overall quality. Ideally you want to construct a list of keywords that do the following:
- Have realistic chance to rank on 1st page of Google (both in short-term and long-term)
- Are relevant enough to convert people into customers
- Can positively impact your business’ bottom line
You should evaluate your list of keywords with the following metrics:
- Search volume (how often the keyword is searched within a given timeframe)
- Level of competition
- Keyword relevance
- Stage of buying cycle
Use the Keyword Planner to identify any terms on your list that had far too small (or way too much) search volume. But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in now -- and reap the benefits for later.
Considering Stage of Buying Cycle
Buyers typically go through certain steps in their buying process. Through educated guess, you can deduce the stage of buying cycle people are at by looking at their search queries. In the initial stage, people search for broad terms, aiming to self-educate on a general topic. Once their interest is piqued, their search queries become a bit more specific. Obviously, keywords in the last stages are more desirable because buyers in those stages are closer to converting.
Now you have a list of keywords that will help you begin to focus on the right topics for your business, and get you some short term and long term gains. You should re-evaluate these keywords every few months, and as you gain more authority in the search engine results pages, you will likely discover that you can add more keywords to your list to tackle as your work on maintaining your current presence.
Never depend on search engine optimization alone for the growth of your business. Often the businesses that fail are the ones that depend on SEO alone for the entire growth of their business. The companies that survive and thrive are the ones that have a solid approach and market in a variety of ways both online and offline. SEO can be a big piece; however, it is only one slice of the marketing pie.
By integrating all of today's Web tools such as SEO, social media, pay per click, and blogs, ImageWorks can provide a level of permission based inbound marketing that will turn your site into a lead generation tool. With continued nurturing programs, you become a trusted source, and prospects convert to customers.