Developing and optimizing keywords for SEO should be a major part of any organization’s web strategy, but most never get around to it because they don’t understand how to do it properly. However, it really doesn’t need to be impossible to understand.
Sure there is an art and a science to cultivating keywords if you want to compete within the top 1%, and I’m not taking anything away from that. But at the end of the day, it’s not complicated terminology that is going to boost your web rankings and website traffic. What can help you is a basic understanding of all of the simple keyword optimization concepts and knowing how to apply them without strain in your day-to-day website activities.
1) Write great Content
If you aren’t writing content that is interesting, dynamic, and valuable, then any keyword optimization strategy is going to fall flat. People need to be interested in what you have to say. It has to do something for them. It must be VALUABLE. This point has been heralded like a monotonous anthem that just won’t stop and everyone nods in agreement. But are you really doing anything about it? It needs to be the first step!
2) Create a List of Search Terms
There are programs, widgets, and services that can help you do this and you should consider them. But before you go there, ask yourself the question “What are people looking for?” The way this works is simple. Someone is looking for something, so they type it into Google. Of course you think you’re great, and you’re sure other people will think you’re great if they can find you. So put yourself in their position and think about what YOU would type into Google if you were looking for someone great like yourself.
3) Test and Refine that List
Once you have a list, you need to start polishing it. Again, there are programs to help you do this, but the old fashioned way is the best way to start. I recommend going to Google and plugging in each of your search terms. Look at your search results. Are you finding the kinds of things you’re looking for? Many people don’t find what they want on the first try, so they need to improve their search terms. You should do the same. Don’t throw away any terms here, just add the new ones you develop to your list.
4) Grade Your Keywords
There are a lot of keyword graders out there, Google Adwords has one of the better free ones. At the end of the day most of these things are pretty simple, and you’ll want to test each of your keywords and keyword phrases to find out which ones are the most effective. You want to have words that get a lot of monthly searches AND the lowest competition possible. This means a lot of people are searching for it and not a lot of websites are using it. This insight alone will put you head and shoulders above the rest. Also, don’t automatically throw away all of your keywords with high competition. You will want to keep some of the most relevant ones that get a lot of searches.
5) Expand Your Keywords List
Most keyword graders will give you alternate keyword ideas. A lot of them won’t work for you, but go through the recommendations for each keyword and pick out the gems. This should also prompt new ideas of things you might have missed. Go ahead and run them through #3 and #4 too.
6) Prioritize Your Keywords List
Now it’s time to get your brain going again. You have a long list of words that have been run through a computer, but you need to think about how they will be run through a person too. Some of them will make more sense than others. Don’t throw anything away at this point but rank your words from the most relevant to the least. You’ll be starting to use the words from the top of the list.
7) Write The Keywords Into Your Website Content
Notice I didn’t say to “add the keywords into your content”. No, you need to WRITE them in. Every sentence has to make sense. Words can’t seem out of place. If you “stuff” the keywords in, then the text won’t flow well. Google will figure it out and punish you by ranking you lower. You shouldn’t try to use all of the keywords, only the most important ones, and only as many as make sense. In blog posts and on new pages you can incorporate more of them as you go.
There is a lot more to it if you want to take things to the next level, and there is a lot more science behind these steps than what I gave you. But at the end of the day, this keyword optimization strategy is miles ahead of what a lot of organizations are doing and it will help you understand the basics without needing to learn a new vocabulary.