An Introduction To Using Keywords For SEO

Keywords are quite simple: They are the words or phrases punched into search engine boxes by people seeking information. They are also one of the most critical elements of search engine optimization (SEO) for your website, blog, and Houzz page as well as for website content items like illustrations and photography. Understanding keywords, how to research them, and how to deploy them on your site has one of the highest returns on investment for any digital marketing activity. You need your site to rank for the keywords your customers choose. If you don’t, a competitor will. Learning about the role of keywords will get you well on your way to making sure your site, and not your competitor’s, hits higher up the page.

If the only goal of keyword research was to get more visitors, the process might be a little different. But you don’t just want any visitor - you want the visitor that best fits your product or service and is ready to buy. Keyword research can help you understand your consumer market and changes in how they think or feel about your product and your industry. With every search, potential customers are revealing their thoughts, concerns, and aspirations. It’s up to you to harness them.

What Constitutes a Good Keyword Phrase For Your Company?

You may already know some of the primary keywords associated with your company. If you sell the interior design or design-build construction services, then you probably already have in mind a handful of relevant keywords. But which is more valuable, “kitchen design,” “kitchen renovation,” or "kitchen remodel”? With keyword research tools available to all webmasters, you can start to glean the answers to this question, at least as far as how often each of these terms is being typed into Google every day. The next step comes through connecting frequency with conversion: Learning not just how often a keyword appears but how often that keyword is associated with a sale for your business.

When you want to start figuring out about the value of a keyword, not just its frequency, you’ll need to begin with some introspection. How closely associated is each keyword with the content of your website? Is kitchen and bath design your specialty? Do you even oversee kitchen renovation? You may think you want anyone interested in a tie to show up, hoping your selection will change their mind. This is a common mistake. You have limited ability to develop content and market your site, and efforts should focus on the core of your business. If that’s black ties, then go after those customers.

After you’ve identified what you believe are some of the most valuable search terms, try typing them into Google or Bing yourself. If you find that the page is already full of a sidebar and headline advertisements, it’s a good indication that your chosen keywords are highly competitive. This is good and bad news. It means that you’ve chosen keywords closely associated with conversion - after all, major companies wouldn’t be paying for ad space if it was a wasted investment. But it also means that you have a lot of competition for the keywords. And there are solutions beyond trying to outrank major corporations. We’ll get to those in just a minute.

With the information gathered so far, purchase a sample campaign for these keywords in Google AdWords. This will let you buy “test” traffic to see how well it may convert for your site. Make sure to choose “exact match” for the keywords and direct all click-through traffic to a particular page on your site. You’ll need between 200 and 300 clicks to get an idea of how effective the keyword is for your business. Once you have those impressions and clicks, you can make quick calculations to find out the value per impression or click, and the total return on investment.

Learning To Love The Long Tail Keyword Phrase

One of the most common misconceptions is that your end-goal should be to rank at the top of Google for a term like “clothing.” But take a step back and think about it: How often do your Google searches include just one word? And what are the odds that someone searching for a single, broad term like clothing is just a click away from purchasing a tie? These extremely popular searches are known as “head keywords,” and they comprise only a tiny percentage of total unique searches, albeit frequent ones. As you move away from the head, you’ll find a larger set of body keywords (often familiar two- or three-word phrases) and, beyond that, the long tail.

Marketers love the long tail because it provides highly specific keywords that allow them to target their niche audience. It also contains keywords that are far less competitive, which means it’s easier for your site to rank higher and make it less expensive when you want to purchase paid ad space.

Ongoing Keyword Research

Google AdWords Keyword Tool is the best place to pursue your keyword research. You’ll be able to examine various long-tail combinations that might work best for your business. This includes taking a look at statistics related to the frequency of searches surrounding any combination of keywords. Just remember that a keyword with 1,000 searches a month doesn’t translate directly to 1,000 visitors to your site. You’ll have to compete with every other site that ranks well for that keyword to capture as many of those visitors as possible. It’s another reason that understanding keyword difficulty (and seeking out less competitive keywords) can add tremendous value to your initial investment in keyword research.

Keywords are the metrics marketers of a previous generation could never imagine. Now, you get to peek behind the curtain and make content decisions for your website based on real, clear data, rather than hazy intuition. As a marketer, what more could you want?

About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

My firm builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition. Contact me for a free-of-charge consultation and marketing review. It takes about 40 minutes and you'll be provided a list of actionable improvements designed to solve your specific marketing problems. 

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