Whether you’re trying to calculate how many cups are in a quart, find the name of that actor from that one movie you watched last weekend or locate the closest Indian buffet (mmm), chances are you start your journey on Google. (Or maybe Bing, Yahoo or—gulp—AOL.) It’s nearly automatic now: You slide your phone out of your pocket, type in your keyword phrase and within nanoseconds you have all the info you need.
Somewhere along the way, though, businesses forgot their customers use the internet the same way as everyone else. Instead of building a keyword strategy around how human beings actually search the web, many companies designed their strategies for search engines alone.
Here are nine organic SEO keyword strategy hacks to help you satisfy both.
1. Keep Your Strategy Evergreen
I’m not saying you shouldn’t stay up-to-date on changing trends and buzzwords, but it’s important to do so in the right spaces—like your blog and your social media platforms. Nearly everywhere else, stay evergreen.
That is, don’t succumb to using of-the-moment jargon that could date your copy next year (or even next month). Spaces like your home page, service pages and other primary site pages that aren’t frequently updated should include timeless copy—or at least copy that won’t look outdated for at least a year.
2. Pick Your Battles
Ask any paid search pro, and they’ll tell you: Sometimes a keyword is so competitive, it’s best to let it go—lest you spend so much of your budget on one word, you miss opportunities to bring in prospects through other popular keywords. This is also true when it comes to organic search.
While you should certainly acknowledge popular keywords and use them when it makes sense, don’t focus so much on these phrases or you risk missing the boat on other conversion opportunities.
3. Do Keyword Research
Every keyword strategy begins with keyword research. There are a number of ways you can go about finding keywords, such as:
- Interviewing current customers and prospects, and looking for common words and phrases.
- Use Google’s related searches and autocomplete features to find relevant long-tail versions of keywords you feel are most relevant.
- Make a list of relevant topics and fill in each category with keywords for which you’d like to rank.
After you have your words, use a solution like the HubSpot Keyword Tool, Moz or the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find additional common search words and phrases related to your product or service offerings.
4. Do More Keyword Research
Once you have a list of words, use your preferred keyword tool to determine:
- Search volume: The number of people who search this term (usually on a monthly basis).
- Traffic volume: The number of users who have reached your site using this keyword.
- Competition: The difficulty of ranking for this word, based on how many of your competitors are ranking for the same term.
This data will help you determine your highest-priority keywords. Strive to rank for words that are high in search volume with a moderate of competition. To learn more about budgeting and bidding for keywords through paid search, check out our fee guide, The 2016 Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Paid Media.
5. Don’t Obsess Over Keywords
You’ve followed tips three and four, and you now have a hefty list of competitive and relevant keywords you know your audience uses frequently. Great! Those keywords should now appear naturally throughout your site.
In other words, your use of keywords should never take away from the power and readability of your copy. Find ways to include these keywords, but don’t let your strategy send you into a keyword stuffing frenzy.
- Good: Data breaches happen daily. If you’re not investing in the right data security technology, you’re risking millions.
- Bad: Data security technology is necessary to keep your company safe from data breaches. Without data security technology, you could lose millions. Data security technology is an important investment. Buy data security technology today.
6. Don’t Take Shortcuts
There are times when it’s good to take shortcuts. For example, when you’re sitting in rush hour traffic on the freeway and you remember a secret back road home.
Then there are times when shortcuts are dangerous. For example, when you’re assembling IKEA furniture—or you’re writing optimized copy to attract customers to your website.
Hiding text, stuffing keywords and thin content (a site with little-to-no original content) not only are ineffective SEO strategies—they can get you in big trouble with search engines. As in, your site is pulled from SERPs (search engine results pages). No bueno.
7. Choose One Phrase Per Page
A great rule of thumb when it comes to keywords is to select one relevant, long-tail keyword, and focus on that phrase throughout an entire page. For example, let’s say the keyword is “hospital nurse burnout.” You would want to make sure this keyword phrase appears in each of following areas:
- Title (and title tag): 7 Ways to Spot Hospital Nurse Burnout
- URL: www.yourwebsitehere.com/blog/hospital-nurse-burnout
- Meta description: Hospital nurse burnout is a dangerous epidemic. Here are seven ways you can spot team members who are suffering from this condition.
- Image alt text.
- At least once within body copy.
- Anchor text in future content.
8. Never “Set and Forget”
Every few months, reassess your strategy. Review blog posts that receive high volumes of traffic, and consider how you can optimize these pieces to increase views and conversions. Look at low-performing posts to see what’s missing and how they can be improved. The same holds true for landing pages and any other pages that offer a conversion opportunity. The most powerful strategy is one that’s constantly tweaked and improved.
9. Always Remember: KISS
No, I don’t mean the obnoxious and slightly overrated rock band. I mean KISS (keep it simple, stupid). Not that you’re stupid. You’re brilliant! But the KISS concept is a reminder to avoid complexity whenever possible. There’s no need to make your keyword strategy, your SEO tactics or your copy some sort of multi-layered labyrinth.
At the end of the day, you’re a human speaking to other humans. Be cognizant of keywords, and remember to follow the above rules, but don’t go so far down the process rabbit hole that you’re losing the creative edge and unique voice your prospects have come to expect from your brand. Your keyword strategy will lead prospects to your site, but your captivating website experience will keep them there—and earn you the conversions.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community