Search engine optimization (SEO) has become a must-have for anyone looking to get found online. Whether you’re looking to sell a product, service, or simply advertising space, getting traffic to your website is the first step to gaining customers.
An excellent place to start building your SEO strategy is with keyword research. Today, as part of our inbound marketing training series I’m going to walk you through a few keyword processes you can follow to help you build the engine that your SEO strategy will move forward on.
Build a Foundation
To begin, you’ll want to think about topics relevant to your industry. The best way to narrow these down is to think about the services your company offers. For example, as a data backup company you’ll probably encounter topics such as “data recovery” and “the cloud” often. Whereas an inbound marketing firm will have topics such as “lead generation” and “blogging.”
You should be looking to build anywhere from 5-12 of these general topics. Try and think of the topics your target audience may be more likely to search for as well as the topics that come up most in sales conversations, that’s usually a good place to start.
Expand Upon That Foundation
Now that you have the general idea of what your target audience is looking for, it’s time to expand upon it. This may very well be the most drawn out part of the research process, but it is also the most crucial. Remember that searches are getting more and more specific as users are realizing that specific searches drive specific results.
A great way to begin expanding on that foundation is to build long-tail keywords. A long-tail keyword is a very targeted keyword phrase that contains 3 or more words. These keywords are highly specific and while they may draw less traffic in the search engines, they also drive higher quality traffic.
Let’s go back to our data-backup company and their topic “the cloud.” Now, while they may offer cloud back-up as a service, it would be nearly impossible (without paid advertising) to end up on the front page ahead of Amazon’s cloud, Google’s cloud, or Apple’s cloud. There is simply too much competition over that specific keyword phrase.
However, if we build upon and mess around with that keyword phrase we may get some “low-hanging” fruit. Take for example “cloud backup for small business” Or “Cloud backup in Phoenix Arizona.” The point of these long-tail keywords is to build upon them, get creative, and most importantly add defining characteristics to generate higher quality traffic. In the example above we used “small business” and “Phoenix, Arizona” — both defining characteristics in the size of the business we target as well as the location.
While a long-term keyword strategy is crucial to finding the low-hanging fruit and short-term results, don’t forget to add those short and generic keywords, because while it may not be easy to immediately rank for them, you should definitely chip away at them during the long-term to keep moving up in the rankings.
Remember that there are many other resources available to you so that you may build a long and exhaustive list for each of your topics. Don’t be afraid to use employees, call up current customers, or even use software to look at your competitors are ranking for. The idea here is to create as many keywords as possible, because ultimately, a lot of these keywords are either already full of competition, or not driving enough traffic to relevant. It takes dedication to find the good ones.
Narrow it All Down
Once you’ve built your exhaustively long list of keywords, it’s now time to find out what works for your organization and what doesn’t. Use a tool such as the Hubspot Keyword Tool or Google AdWords Keyword Planner (which can be used for free once you create an account).
Export the results into a spreadsheet, so it’s easier to maneuver and begin to sort through the list using metrics such as difficulty and search volume. Keep your focus on the keywords with a reasonable difficulty, good search volume, and that you know are relevant to your industry.
Way to go! Even though creating those keywords took forever, you now have a great foundation upon which to build your SEO strategy and potential offers. If you’d like a more detailed step-by-step look at building an SEO strategy, including tips (and a few tricks) on everything from using keyword tools, to using on/off page SEO efficiently, and how to find even more keywords check out our completely free SEO course below!