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The currency of the SEO industry is keywords, that is, the words and phrases that the average consumer is most likely to type into Google when searching for the product or service that they are looking for.

So let’s take a look at why keywords are so important. For example, if you search for “red shoes” on Google, you get 220 million results. But as you would expect, Google wants to present search results with the most relevant items for you coming first. Google is collating and deciding which results to show you and in what order. Obviously, this matters if you want your hypothetical product (in this case, red shoes) to be shown. If you can please Google that is, present or “optimise” your content to suit their Google ‘bots’ which are constantly scanning the internet judging which websites are the best and most relevant you stand the best chance of finding yourself on the first page of Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Page(s).

To understand the true value of this, ask yourself: when was the last time you went to page 2 or 3 of Google’s search results? Not recently, right?

I’ll explain more about how to design SEO friendly pages in a later post, but first we need to address how you determine your keywords. There are a number of ways to do this, (depending on your industry) but of course it’s never possible to get it 100% right. You should be constantly tweaking and adding to your keywords as your business grows and your business changes.

Depending on your industry, you’ll need to think about this carefully. If you’re offering a service or product in an incredibly crowded market with a lot of huge competitors, the amount of time it will take for you to gain the website ‘clout’ to rank highly could be a major issue for you. This is known as “keyword difficulty”.

In other words, if you’re a new player, don’t measure the success of your website on one phrase like “business resources” because there are a massive amount of search results—over 2 billion in fact associated with that term.

If you missed my blog on why you should care about SEO, click here!

The likelihood of you (a newbie website) getting on page one or two or even three is very low. If business resources are what your company offers, you can’t change that, but what you can do is specialise in different ways. You could go for a particular geography, or a specific vertical specialisation. Thus, you could aim to rank for terms such as “business resources in Bristol” or “business resources for teachers.”

This concept is known as making use of long tail keywords. While the inclination might be to build your website based on search terms that are typed into Google 5,000 times a day, that may not always be the best, nor most practical approach. Long tail keywords are the search terms that are less popular and may only be searched a few times per day or week. But when taken together, these terms comprise 70% of the web’s search entries. And most importantly, these searches tend to indicate that a searcher is much further along in the buying or decision making process - and therefore inquiries coming from those terms are much more valuable. Even if only 10 people are searching with a particular long tail keyword a month, if it’s a product you sell and your site ranks well for it, that’s 120 potential customers a year coming to your site off the back of that one keyword. As you target more pages on your site for different long tail keywords, your potential audience grows. With this model it’s easy to see how even the smallest businesses that do SEO well, can stand to get a great return on investment for their time taken to master and understand SEO.

Why is that?   If a customer is looking for information about sunglasses, for example, they might search: “high quality sunglasses” as an entry point. but if they’re certain about what they want to buy, they might search: “Oakley polarised silver-framed sunglasses for women.” The former term is far more popular, but the latter term’s specificity indicates that the searcher is further along in the buying process; as they know exactly what they want. Though that’s a consumer example, you can apply the same process to your business.

This matters because it’s not enough to just understand the keywords for your industry or business. You need  to have  a grasp of the possibility of ever ranking well for those terms. If it seems unlikely, then you need to refine and narrow your search terms so the small audience of searchers you’re trying to reach will find you.

Once you’ve gone through the process I’ve outlined above and established a schematic of search terms for your business, you’re still going to end up in a situation where you have new terms you want to add to your website. These can be timely topics or new innovations in your industry. That’s where the real value of maintaining a blog lies. Think of your blog as being the opportunity to create web-pages ‘on the fly’ that are search engine optimised for a particular term. And if your subject heading for your blog contains that new search term you’ll be making sure that your website doesn’t miss a trick.

Today, the most fundamental aspect of an SEO-friendly website is figuring out what your company’s keywords are before you begin building your website, and then designing your individual pages on that basis.

Tip #31: Keywords are your friends and ignoring their importance is done at your peril. Structure your website around them and keep updating it as new ones arrive.


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