Choosing the right keywords for your content marketing campaign is about more than simply figuring out what search terms people use and working them into your posts.
It’s also about knowing which keywords will drive the right traffic to your site and understanding how to use them wisely.
That’s where keyword optimization comes in. But what is solid keyword optimization all about, and how can you put together an optimization strategy that’s truly right for your brand?
We’ll go over everything you need to know to get it right.
In this blog, you’ll learn:
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What Is Keyword Optimization and Why Is It Important?
Keyword optimization is the practice of ensuring that the target keywords you’ve chosen for your campaign are genuinely effective at driving high-quality traffic to your website and boosting your SERP rankings. There are generally three stages in any keyword optimization effort:
Keyword optimization helps search engine algorithms fully understand your site so that it’s visible and recommended to people who look for it. This form of optimization is also beneficial to you as a marketer for reasons like the following:
- Keyword optimization research can help you understand your target audience and zero in on their actual needs.
- Analyzing data related to keyword optimization helps marketers learn about the size of their potential market pool.
- Understanding what keywords to use (as well as when and how) helps you produce better, more compelling content.
How to Do Keyword Research for SEO
Ultimately, it won’t matter how great your content is if no one is searching for any of the keywords, phrases, or terms you use. Keyword research is the practice of discovering popular search terms to incorporate into your web content so that your target audience can find it on search engines. Here are some tips for getting it right.
Know the basics
There are three essential elements to consider when researching keywords that will eventually become the basis for high-ranking content:
- Relevance: Google ranks pages according to how well they meet a user’s specific needs. Keyword choices help determine relevance.
- Authority: Google also favors content from sources that clearly know the topic at hand. If you’re not an established authority, your content must be genuinely exceptional.
- Volume: Is the potential keyword searched often enough to generate real traffic? Is it also specific enough that you stand a good chance of achieving a high search ranking?
Use keyword optimization tools to expand on seed keywords
Seed keywords are starter terms that you can use to inform the rest of your keyword research session. For example, if you run a company that sells scented candles, some appropriate seed keywords might be “candles” and “home décor.”
By themselves, seed keywords are too broad to be worth targeting. However, you can plug those terms into a keyword research tool to zero in on suggestions that are worth targeting. Try these:
- Ahrefs Keyword Generator: Great for discovering effective long-tail keywords
- Google Keyword Planner: Ideal for choosing options to rank on Google, in particular
- SEMRush Keyword Research Toolkit: Effective at locating ideal keywords and identifying opportunities
For even more terrific options, check out our comprehensive list of top keyword explorer tools to try in 2023.
Think like your customers
User intent is one of the most important factors in a site’s ability to achieve top SERP positions.
So, put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What problems and concerns can your product, services, or content address for them? Consider how they might go about finding the answers and solutions they need through a search engine.
Be sure to consider the average buyer’s journey associated with your products and services. A good keyword research session should yield buyer keywords related to each phase—awareness, consideration, and decision.
Check out your competition
You also need to know who your competitors are and what keywords they use to drive traffic to their content. A quick Google search for a seed keyword will reveal your top competitors.
Plugging their URLs into an exploration tool like Ahrefs Site Explorer can give you additional insight into where their traffic comes from.
Research related search terms
Once you have a basic list of solid target keywords, fill it in by looking into related search terms. You can find fantastic suggestions highlighted on Google’s SERP for any search term.
You could also research additional terms related to those keywords for even more great ideas.
Understand the importance of long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords are more specific, so they attract less traffic than broader search terms. However, they also have higher conversion rates, as they’re more likely to align with user intent.
For this reason, they’re the key to reaching consumers who are highly motivated to buy. They can also create a solid flow of traffic over time.
The Different Types of Keyword Optimization
A solid keyword optimization strategy is about more than just how you craft your content. It also includes contributing efforts that you put into your marketing campaign outside your site.
Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about each main optimization type and its related techniques.
On-page keyword optimization
On-page optimization involves your efforts to make individual pages more effective from a marketing and SEO standpoint. Essential techniques to consider include:
- Working keywords into on-page elements like titles, headings, and URLs
- Ensuring that title tags and meta descriptions also use keywords in natural ways
- Using both primary and secondary keywords naturally throughout your content at an optimal keyword frequency
- Making content more helpful by adding both internal and external links (with keyword-rich anchor text, where appropriate)
- Optimizing images and graphics with keyword-efficient alt text
- Formatting your content using headings, subheadings, and visuals to make it easy to scan
On-page keyword optimization is your mainstay for boosting traffic volumes, raising click-through rates, nailing user intent, and nurturing consumers through every stage of the buyer’s journey. However, it also takes time and a lot of personal investment.
Streamline the process by outsourcing some (or all) of your content creation tasks to seasoned experts like the ones you’ll find for hire on WriterAccess.
You can scale your content production efforts while leveraging the collective knowledge of professional keyword optimization masters.
Off-page keyword optimization
In contrast to on-page optimization, off-page keyword optimization is all about what you do outside of your website to drive traffic and help it rank better. Crucial techniques to know include:
- Building and managing a robust social media presence to drive traffic, build relationships, and promote brand recognition
- Backlink-building via guest blog opportunities, sponsored partnerships, and similar options
- Encouraging customers to review your products and services, as well as responding to all reviews (including the negative ones) in a professional manner
- Any and all content marketing efforts, including email marketing, infographics, social media posts, ebooks, white papers, interactive quizzes, etc.
Naturally, all of these efforts should revolve around your target keywords to keep your efforts cohesive and consistent. Again, outsourcing tasks to professional content creators and SEO experts can be extremely helpful here.
Keyword optimization for local SEO
Don’t make the mistake of leaving local keyword optimization out of your strategy.
Approximately 46 percent of all searches come from consumers looking for local information, so it’s crucial to make sure your site is part of the mix. Important techniques to consider include the following:
- Claiming, verifying, updating, and maintaining your Google My Business profile
- Ensuring critical details about your business are consistent everywhere they appear—phone number, address, business hours, etc.
- Researching and including location-based keywords in your ongoing SEO strategy
- Creating location pages on your website
- Using social media to connect with potential local audiences
You’ll also want to ensure your website and content experiences are responsive and mobile-friendly because many local search users are looking for information on the go.
Is It Possible to Over-Optimize Your Site?
It is absolutely possible to overdo SEO, so it’s important to avoid over-optimization.
An over-optimized website is like a cup of coffee with too much sugar—something that could have been great but isn’t because there’s just too much of a good thing going on. Signs of an over-optimized website include:
- Keyword overuse (also known as keyword stuffing)
- Use of keywords simply for the sake of adding more keywords instead of adding value
- Poor use of links, title tags, and similar elements
- Long-form content that is fluffy and weak instead of informative and authoritative
What Does the Future of Keyword Optimization Look Like?
Keyword research, keyword optimization, and SEO aren’t jobs that you tackle only once in your journey toward success. The world of optimization is always changing, so they are ongoing tasks that should be revisited often.
Best practices and techniques constantly evolve to reflect emerging trends, algorithm updates, and other changes.
Some examples to keep an eye on in 2023 and beyond include the rising popularity of voice search and the growing use of natural language processing.
User experience will also continue to grow in importance, so smart content always caters to people first and search engines second.
A great keyword optimization approach is the X-factor that can set a site apart from the crowd, and it all starts with exceptional content.
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