How SEO affects your business

How SEO affects your business

If you’re a business, there are some very real and specific benefits to having a consistent, ongoing search engine optimization strategy. For the first time in the history of marketing, users are offering up their actual intent through the words that they type and speak into search engines. And more than ever before, you can measure the results of your SEO efforts as a marketing channel. While search engines don’t charge you for listing your webpages, planning and implementing SEO in your organization is certainly not free. You’ll need to spend the time, the money, and the resources to do this the right way.

The good news is that this can help you reach a tremendously large audience, attract more targeted visitors, and measure the impact of your efforts in terms of a return on your investment. More and more content appears on the web every second of every day. And your customers need search engines to help make sense of it all. People search to find answers to their questions, to buy products, to find a place to eat, to book travel, to get news. Just about everything we do online starts with a search. We call the motivation behind a given search intent. And it’s not just done around the family PC anymore.

The explosion of connected mobile devices and voice assistants means that we have access to search just about anywhere in the world with just a few key strokes or voice commands. What people search for and the words they choose when making their query says a lot about their intent, or what actions they want to take at a specific moment in time.

And this has traditionally been the Holy Grail of marketing research. If somebody searches for hiking trails in California or where to buy a digital camera, it’s very easy, as a marketer, to understand what they’re looking for. The role of search engines is to match those user search queries to pages that match that topic.

And if you sell cameras, well, what that means to you is that you can create relevant content that meets the needs of the searcher at exactly the right moment.

Good SEO can essentially provide you a stream of some of the most targeted, intent-driven traffic that you could possible ask for. But more than that, one of the biggest benefits of search engine optimization is the ability to actually measure your results. You can use your website analytics data to find out exactly how successful you are in acquiring search engine users. And you can see if those users’ actions are in line with your business goals. You can evaluate the effectiveness of your content in attracting and advancing the user through your sales file. And you can measure what they do and what they don’t do on your website and beyond.

By attaching real dollars and cents to those actions that began with a simple search, you’ll be able to truly measure return on investment from your SEO channel.

Why you need a keyword research plan in Search Engine Optimization

Why you need a keyword research plan in Search Engine Optimization

Before you can optimize your website, you need to know what you’re optimizing for. Finding the right keywords to focus your SEO efforts on, can be challenging, but fortunately there’s a lot of data out there, and a structured approach that we can use for our keyword research. 

Keywords are watch searchers type into a search engine, search engines like Google and Bing will go out and fetch the most relevant results for your search query based on everything they know about you and all the content on the entire internet. But it’s important to remember that search engines, have a hard time understanding what a user is after, unless it’s really spelled out. This is why you’ve probably followed up one search with another more descriptive search, more than a few times in your life. You try one keyword or query but it doesn’t give you just what you’re looking for. So you get more specific or you try it another way. 

The bottom line is that people all over the world, are typing in all kinds of keywords, every second, of every hour, of every day. And it’s important for us to understand what they type in so that we can optimize our pages to be in the search results for those terms. Formal keyword research is the foundational piece in SEO, that will help you understand what people are typing in the search engines. The intent of those keywords, as the search engines understand it, how frequently they do it, how relevant those terms are to your business objectives, and how competitive those terms will be to try to rank for. 

Let’s take an example, say you sell cars, you might think that the keyword car is something that you want to rank for. But after you’ve done a little keyword research, you’ll probably find that it won’t make your list. Why, well even though that word gets typed into search engines with a very high frequency, think about its relevance, how many reasons could somebody type the word car into a search engine. They might be looking for toys, a place for repairs, a car wash, car parts, a rental car, any one of hundreds of things that have nothing to do with actually buying a car. And think of all those people out there that are also trying to rank for the word car in the search engines. This is an extremely competitive term, a phrase like buy new blue Toyota Camry might not get typed in as much, but if that’s what you’re selling, it’s extremely relevant and much less competitive. Keywords like this will very likely end up on your list of keywords to optimize for. 

Now that we understand a bit more about keywords and keyword research, it’s time to talk about planning. An effective keyword research plan involves having a sound, structured approach, that will lead to the discovery of keywords that you can use in the content of your website. 

Ultimately, a keyword research plan, would give you the data that you need to make decisions about which keywords will give you the biggest bang for your buck. 

And having the highest likelihood of being both relevant, and profitable for your business. With billions of queries searched each month, it’s important that we understand the goals of keyword research, what we’re looking for, and how we collect and analyze that data, to make decisions around our website.

Keyword Research in Search Engine Optimization

Keyword Research in Search Engine Optimization

Everyone will eventually develop their own approach and process for doing keyword research and you’ll ultimately need to find something that works for you. But the most important part of keyword research is to forget about you and your business and put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers. The process typically begins with brainstorming and answering some key questions. This stage is important from an organizational perspective because it will force you to look at different areas of your business. Start with answering a basic question, what products and services do you offer? Be as comprehensive as possible and list out as many keywords and phrases as you can.

But make sure that you do it from the customers perspective. As people who work in our businesses day in and day out, we might have a very different way of explaining our products and services. Take for example, a discount travel website, you might be tempted to write down keywords like high-value air transport or fare class eligible discount ticket.

But at the end of the day, none of your perspective customers are typing that into a search engine. While those things makes sense to you, your customers are looking for cheap flights. It all comes back to intent, understanding the intent of your customer base is critical in developing a good seed list of keywords. While brainstorming can get you started, there are some great tools that can find and suggest similar keywords and expand your list of possibilities considerably. To seed your keyword list, Google Search Console offers insights into exactly how people are finding your site today. And it’s a great place to start. Once you have a solid seed list of keywords, you’ll need to expand on it.

Two favorite keyword expansion tools in the SEO industry are Google Trends and AnswerThePublic. Both offers suggestions around new target phrases based on your chosen keyword and both help you understand exactly how people are searching for things on the live web. Once you’ve got that list of potential keywords, the next thing you’ll need to do is take a look at search volume metrics to see what kind of demand there is for those phrases. As you do this, you’ll notice that while a handful of keywords get typed in thousands and thousands of times everyday, there are a whole lot more that don’t get typed in nearly as often. These are probably more descriptive keywords or less common variations but the important thing to note is that these are known as long-tail keywords.

 

Long-tail keywords in SEO are incredibly useful. They let us go after a much larger amount of less competitive keywords that tend to be extremely relevant to our business objectives. And while individually, there’s not a lot of search volume on each term, they each do have some search volume. For example, if I were selling iPhone cases, I may start looking into the keyword iPhone cases, a term that gets typed into search engines a lot. It’s extremely competitive and it’s probably going to be very difficult to rank for.

But I might also take a look at a more long-tail keyword like protective blue iPhone cases, it’s going to be extremely relevant, less competitive, and easier to rank for, at the expense of raw search volume.

But here’s the important part, you might be able to find hundreds or thousands of these long-tail keywords that together have the potential to get you more traffic than ranking for iPhone cases would have from the start. Finally, you’ll want to add some meaning and organization around the keywords that you’ve collected. You can do this by identifying themes or topics to group your keywords around, a process known as keyword categorization. Back to the example with the blue iPhone case, we may want to create a group that will just be about blue iPhone cases that includes all the different models of the phone.

Alternatively, we could categorize these, not by phone model but instead by color. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Only a way that works for you and allows you to manage these groups of keywords as you optimize for them. Remember, in the end this is an exploratory and discovery exercise. Everyone searches differently and you’ll find lots and lots of data as you dig deeper and deeper. Be open-minded, put yourself in the mindset of your potential customers and make sure to consider all of your options as you evaluate your keyword performance over time.