Finding Effective Keywords To Incorporate Into Your Content Strategy
Just as water is necessary to swimming and fuel is essential to driving a car, keywords are fundamental to search engine optimization. Unfortunately, however, finding the right keyword to rank your content in search results, to connect with potential customers, and to earn more revenue isn’t always intuitive. To find the most effective keywords to integrate into your content strategy, you need to understand the different types of keywords, their rhetorical purpose, and their likely results. Then you need to conduct research to discover which keywords will best help you achieve your SEO goals of generating profitable leads.
Commercial Keywords Versus Informative Keywords
There are two basic types of keywords: commercial and informative. Commercial keywords can earn you a profit, and informative keywords can garner links and traffic. If the purpose of your website is to make money, as the purpose of most websites is, then you may assume that you should concentrate on commercial keywords. However, that assumption is only half right. A successful content strategy needs to incorporate both commercial and informative keywords.
In the short term, you should focus most of your attention on commercial keywords, those that include descriptors related to purchasing, such as “affordable,” “cheap,” “buy,” etc., that link to pages that give your customers the opportunity to purchase your products directly from your website. However, you shouldn’t neglect the informative side of the equation. In the long term, your content strategy should also include quality content optimized for informative keywords.
There are two reasons for this. First, you want to draw traffic to your site through links and shares, gaining the attention of industry experts, news websites, and popular blogs within your niche. Without spending money on an expensive pay-per-click campaign, which may be well beyond your means, the best way to accomplish this is through organic searches. Keep in mind that the success of a campaign like this depends not only on optimizing for informative keywords but also on producing valuable, high-quality content that readers will be eager to share with others. Creating such content may be a challenge, and it may be wise to hire a content writing service to help you meet it.
The other reason to incorporate informative keywords into your content strategy is, in the words of Neil Patel, to grow your brand “with all segments of your potential customer base.” In other words, there may be people who find your website today who won’t require them tomorrow, or next month, or next year. Establishing yourself and your brand in the mind of the potential customer now may draw them back to you later when they decide they do require your goods or have need of your services.
Ranking Versus Traffic
Different types of keywords do different things for your website. Some help your pages rank higher in search results, while others drive more traffic to your site. Often, though not always, these two types of keywords are mutually exclusive. Part of the reason that high-ranking keywords climb so high on the results page is that they are not very popular among searchers. The disadvantage there is that because the keyword isn’t used very often, it’s unlikely to gain you much traffic for your site. The advantage is that the few searchers who do use that keyword are likely very serious about locating particular goods and services and ready to buy from a company like yours.
The reverse is true for keywords that generate traffic. They are popular keywords, so people are searching for them all the time, which can result in higher site traffic. However, it can be difficult to make your result stand out from all the competition. An effective content strategy involves using both types of keywords to drive more traffic to your site with some searches while helping it rank higher in others.
Of course, the ideal situation is to find keywords that help you rank high in search results while driving more traffic to your site. These are rare specimens, the endangered species of the SEO world, but there are ways you can recognize them.
1. Keyword Length
The length of a keyword is an indication of whether it can rank your site in search results or drive traffic to your site. Long-tail keywords, i.e., those at least four words in length, do not generate as much traffic as shorter keywords, but they tend to rank very highly. Short-tail keywords of one to two words generate a lot of traffic but are difficult to rank for because they are so competitive. Whenever possible, you should try to use medium-tail keywords of three to four words because they have the highest potential to rank in search results while delivering high traffic volumes.
2. Keyword Difficulty
Keyword difficulty can be a confusing term. It is the invention of SEO professionals to describe what one can expect from certain keywords rather than an analytic used by Google. The phrase refers to either the ease or difficulty of ranking in the top search engine results. Scoring keyword difficulty can be a complicated process but includes the following criteria:
- The number of results returned by the query
- The number of referring domains
- The quality of the content
So it stands to reason that you want to find keywords with low difficulty so that you rank in the results, right? Well, once again the answer is yes and no. Low keyword difficulty is only one side of the coin. It may be that the keyword is easy to rank because it is low in value. Remember that, in the short term, you’re looking for commercial keywords that have the potential to gain revenue for your business. If a keyword doesn’t have that potential, then its ranking in search results and the traffic it can drive to your site won’t be worth much to you.
How do you gauge the value of a keyword? In addition to low SEO difficulty, meaning that you can rank in organic searches, you also want high paid difficulty, meaning that the keyword is in competition for paid results. If companies are paying money for advertising associated with the search results, that indicates that the keyword is valuable.
Popularity and Trending
Optimizing for a particular keyword isn’t of much value to you if your customers aren’t using it in searches. For this reason, before incorporating a certain keyword, you should check the popularity of the keyword. One of the most efficient ways to do this is by region. Check the popularity of the keyword in areas where you currently do business, areas where you do the most business, and areas where you would like to do business in the future.
However, it’s not necessarily enough to know that a keyword is popular at a particular moment in time. Like clothing and music, keywords can fall in and out of fashion. Some keywords are nothing more than passing fads and are never heard from again after a brief burst of popularity, while others’ popularity waxes and wanes with the changes of seasons. Before you optimize for a particular keyword, you should check to see if its popularity is trending up or down. If it is trending steadily downward, it probably won’t be of much value to you, and you should optimize for another keyword.
Keyword Research Tools
It can be difficult to come up with keyword ideas that are both relevant to your business and effective at generating valuable leads. That’s where keyword research can come in handy.
Keyword research can be almost as simple or elaborate as you want it to be. You can do a simple form of keyword research by just typing part of a keyword into Google and seeing what autocomplete options you get. Looking at the queries that people have already used to find your website can also afford you valuable insights. You can also make use of free tools like thesauruses, Wikipedia, and answer forums like Quora.
However, given the importance of keywords in generating revenue for your business, it may be wise to use a tool specifically designed for keyword research. Some of the most popular of these include the following:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Microsoft Search Query Reports
- Xenu Link Sleuth
Once you’re earning revenue and your keywords are attracting the levels of traffic that you want, you may be tempted to relax and rest on your laurels, but try to resist the temptation. In order to maintain your search engine rankings, you need to keep re-evaluating your keyword lists on a regular basis to keep up with Google’s ever-changing algorithms.
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