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Nowadays, everything is all about ranking. With the age of the Internet engulfing everything, you need to make your product easily found so that you may have hopes of selling it. However, with so many companies competing against each other, it might be rather difficult for you now to stand out amongst the others – which is why you have to give the search engine exactly what it wants.
However, Search Engine Optimization (or simply put, SEO) is not as easy to understand – particularly if you are a beginner. There are many tricks and twists to it – which is why this guide is here to help take you through every important step.
SEO has been around for quite some time, particularly among those that have a service or product to sell. However, for new entrepreneurs, the term is rather vague to understand. This is why, before beginning to optimize your content, you might want to learn exactly what SEO is and why do you actually need it. Knowing this will help build your fundamental knowledge – but also improve your confidence as you are moving ahead.
– What Exactly Is SEO?
SEO is short for “search engine optimization.” To put it simply, it is the practice of improving both the quantity and the quality of a website’s traffic – all while bringing exposure to your brand. To do that, specialists use non-paid (also referred to as organic) results from the search engine.
Despite what we get from the acronym, SEO is not only about the search engine itself – but it’s about the people as well. To put it simply, it’s about understanding what people are looking for online: the words they are using, the answers they are looking for, and the type of content that they are searching for. Once you know the answers to these questions, you should know exactly how to connect with these people.
A search engine is practically an answering machine. It looks through billions of content pages, balancing thousands of factors, and determining exactly which one will answer your question the best. It seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? But how do search engines actually do that?
Well, they do this by finding and cataloging every piece of content available on the Internet (e.g. web pages, pictures, PDFs, videos, etc.), through a process called “crawling and indexing.” After that, they order it based on how well it answers the query through a process that is referred to as “ranking.” This way, every person browsing for information on the Internet should immediately find exactly what they are looking for.
– Why Do We Need SEO?
Indeed, social media, paid advertising and other platforms in the online medium can generate quite a lot of traffic – but most of it actually results from search engines. An organic search will include a lot more online real estate, appearing more plausible and credible to the smart searcher – and also receiving far more clicks in comparison to paid advertisements. For example, surveys show that in the US, only about 2.8% of the people actually access the paid advertisements.
That being said, SEO is one of the very few marketing channels that may also pay dividends throughout time once it’s set up properly. Provided you have the right content that uses all the right strategies, your traffic may go higher over time – whereas paid advertising will require that you continuously invest in it.
With that in mind, while search engines are becoming smarter and smarter, they will still require your help. This is why you will need to optimize your website, so that it may deliver better information to those that are looking for it.
A History of SEO
In just a short time, SEO has come quite a long way. Think about the fact that the first search engine was only born about 27 years ago. It was called Archie (short for “archive”), and it was actually the precedent of the first web page that was ever created.
Which actually makes you wonder: if the purpose of a search engine is to help you find websites based on the terms you look for, how can a search engine exist when there aren’t even any websites to find? Perhaps the best answer that you may be given is that the Internet was eerily empty at that point.
To put it simply, Archie served as the catalyst for an entire flood of search engines, most of them launching between 1990 and 1999. Some of these search engines include Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves (currently Ask.com) and MSN (currently Bing). One could say that all of these have miraculously survived until this day.
As a matter of fact, when Stanford students Sergey Brin and Larry Page came up with the prosperous search engine we now call Google, it originally went by the name “BackRub.” The reason was that it used backlinks for all of its searches. Obviously, “Google” as a name had more popularity as time kept passing.
– The Black Hat Era of SEO
With every good thing that comes and goes in our life, we begin to take advantage of it as much as we can. As a result, once the search engine began picking up steam and people saw its monetary value, they began to use it more and more for advertising.
This is why, the moment people began to care how high they were ranked on the search results, that was when the SEO practice was also born. Since keywords were a major determinant of whether your web page was visible on the search engine or not, website owners began stuffing the same keywords over and over within the content and the meta-tags. Their purpose was to artificially boost the ranking of their page.
This is what people call a regular case of “black hat SEO.” It meant that it was an aggressive strategy of SEO – one that was greatly frowned upon, particularly by Google. It is also exactly why this search engine “decided” to create a few guidelines for how it was used.
One can imagine that people weren’t ready to give up the black hat SEO practice, as it could easily manipulate the rankings. This is exactly why they kept disregarding the rules after Google’s launch and kept using their own methods for about two years. It was only when Google became the main search engine that people decided to play after its rules – of course, if they still wanted to hang onto their success.
You could say that Google did not really give website owners much of a choice in this, as it kept cracking down the websites using spammy black hat SEO – all while growing more and more in popularity. That was when the SEO game began to change, and white hat SEO took the place of black hat SEO.
– The Birth of White Hat SEO
A great innovation that came up during the Internet frenzy was also originated from the founder of Google: Page Rank. This technology filters the resulted content by its quality and not its keywords. In the world of search engines, this was clearly a first. This caused a great uproar, as not everyone knew how to create high-quality content without relying mostly on the use of keywords.
No matter if they knew what this move would lead to or not, this hurled every Internet user right into the new era of SEO. At this point, keywords were just a minor part of this puzzle and were only used to form the bigger picture.
This strategy was commonly referred to as white hat SEO, whose strategies focused mostly on the human rather than the robot. This type of SEO would be based on the guidelines that would make the content useful – and not just visible.
Fast forward to 2013, about two decades since the first search engine came into the mix, the history of SEO saw yet another groundbreaking development: an update called Hummingbird. This option was as efficient and useful as it was stressful for those that were using it.
The update changed the way we searched yet again. People could now opt for conversational search, and they could now type a full question or sentence by using an entire string of words. They were no longer just using keywords that were placed within a sentence.
Longtail keywords became very important because Google began to decipher the intent of the user rather than mapping out the phrases and keywords. They were looking for meaning rather than matching, which further differentiated it from the traditional strategies used for SEO.
However, this did not mean that keywords lost their importance entirely. It just meant that you had to consider quite a number of other factors (about 200), including backlinks, content quality, redirects, and how user-friendly the site is.
In 2016, Google came up with yet another bot – and that bot was RankBrain. This artificial intelligence software would allow Google to sort (or crawl) through the website, ranking the content by the use of semantic search. This meant that the more people would ask conversationally structured questions, the more the search engine would have to harmonize with the way in which the users search.
– Our Current Position in the SEO Game
Nowadays, SEO is a rather tricky yet interesting game for those in the domain of marketing. We have to keep up with every algorithm change that Google throws at us – but we also have to continuously re-optimize and reimagine our content so that we stay or get up the ranks. Historically speaking, this means less focus on keywords, and more focus on naturally written text that people could trust.
It also means taking other factors into account, such as cookies, localization, search history and so on. Nowadays, SEO focuses mostly on bringing forward the content that people are most likely to read based on their needs – shifting the focus on quality rather than anything else.
How SEO Actually Works
As we have previously mentioned, search engines are pretty much answering machines. Their purpose is to find, analyze, and organize the content on the Internet so that it can provide the most relevant search results for those that are looking for answers.
For it to appear in the search results, the content that you provide needs to be visible to the search engine. It is certainly one of the most important parts of the SEO puzzle – mostly because if your website cannot be found, it won’t be appearing in the results pages.
– The Primary Functions of a Search Engine
When it comes to search engines, there are three main functions that you will have to understand:
- The Crawl Function: This function will be scouring the Internet for content, browsing and analyzing the content/code of every URL that they come across.
- The Index Function: This function will store and then organize the relevant content that has been found during the crawling stage. Once that page has been added to the index, it will be marked as a possible page to be displayed during a relevant query.
- The Rank Function: This function will offer pieces of content that will most efficiently answer the query of a searcher. This means that every result found by the search engine will be ordered going through the most relevant to the least relevant.
Each of these functions is dependent on one another and they work together to bring the searchers the answers they need.
– Search Engine Crawling and How It Operates
We kept talking about search engine crawling – but what exactly is this process? Well, search engine crawling is practically a discovery process. Here, the search engine dispatches a team of robots (also referred to as spiders or crawlers) to look for newly updated content. The content may be anything, from websites to videos and images – but regardless, the content is found via links.
The robot generally begins by fetching a couple of web pages, following the links in an attempt to come across a new URL. If you hop along this link path, the crawler will gather the new content and place it in their index (a.k.a. “Caffeine”). This massive database of URLs will then be retrieved whenever a searcher is looking for content that matches the URL.
– Search Engine Index and Ranking
The purpose of a search engine is to process and store the information they can retrieve from an index – which is a huge content database. This database contains all the pieces of content that were discovered and were deemed good enough to come to the searcher’s aid.
Moreover, whenever someone conducts a search, the search engine will be going through the index, looking for the most relevant content to answer their query. That content will be ordered in the search results from most relevant to least relevant – a process that is known as “ranking.” It’s safe to assume that the most relevant the website will be deemed, the higher up it should appear in the search results.
If you so wish, you may block the access of search engine crawlers from your website (or parts of it), in the event that you want to keep it away from certain pages. Sometimes, there might be a good reason why you may want to do this. However, if you wish for your content to become accessible to the ones searching for it, you need to make it easily found by the crawlers. You must make sure that it can be indexed. Otherwise, you may as well call it invisible.
You also need to remember that not every search engine is equal. Granted, Google has a fairly large market share – but you may want to optimize your content for other engines as well, such as Bing or Yahoo.
However, despite the fact that you have more than 30 major search engines that you could use, the SEO community is mostly attentive to Google. If you are asking yourself why, then the answer is rather simple: everyone looks up things on Google. If you add Google Maps, Google Images and YouTube (a property of Google) in the mix, it is safe to say that around 90% of Internet searches are made on Google. That’s about 20 times Yahoo and Bing combined.
– Checking Whether Your Pages Can Be Found
As you may know by now, it might be a good idea to check whether your website is showing up in the search engine results or not. For example, if you already have your own website, it might be a good idea to check exactly how many pages from your website can be found within the index. This might ask for quite a bit of insight as to whether the search engine is crawling through the pages that you want to be found or not – and those that you want to be ignored.
A good way to check how many of your pages are indexed is to go to the search engine and look for your domain in the search bar (the formula being “site:yourdomain.com”). This advanced search operator will return all the results that they have indexed for the specified website.
While the number of results found right under the search bar (see the “About XYZ results” section) is not exact, it might still give you a fairly good idea over how many pages are actually indexed. You may also use the Google Search Console’s Index Coverage report to see a more accurate number.
If you don’t seem to be showing up anywhere in the results yet, there might be a few good reasons for that – and they are as follows:
- The website is new, and it hasn’t had the chance to be crawled yet
- Your current navigation system on the website makes it rather difficult for crawlers to navigate effectively
- You have not been linked from any external websites
- Your domain features a basic code-named crawler directive that is blocking the search engine from advancing
- Your website has received a penalty from Google for using a variety of spammy content.
That being said, while it is recommended that you “help” the search engines find your other important pages, it is quite easy to forget that there are some pages that you do not want the Googlebot to show in the search results. This might include old pages from your website that do not have a lot of quality content, special promo code URLs, duplicate links, test pages and so on. To keep the Googlebot from poking its nose where you do not want it to, you might want to make use of robots.txt.
– The Basics of Robots.txt
The Robots.txt files are found in the root directory of a website (example, domain.com/robots.txt) and will suggest exactly which page from the website should be crawled and which page shouldn’t. Plus, if special robots.txt directives are found, you may even set the speed at which the pages are being crawled.
Overall, this is how the Googlebot (or any search engine robot) handles robots.txt files:
- If the search engine robot cannot find any robots.txt for a website, it then proceeds to crawl the website.
- If the bot comes across an error and cannot determine whether a robots.txt file exists or not, it will not crawl the website.
- If the Googlebot does come across a robots.txt file, it will respect the suggestions and proceed to crawl your website wherever it does have permission.
These robots will ensure that the search engines will only find the suggestions that they find relevant and with important content. Otherwise, the searches that were deemed unimportant will not be crawled – allowing the pages that matter to actually get the traffic.
On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO
When taking your SEO strategy into consideration, you should know that you may divide it into two categories, all with their own differences. Regardless, both are highly important for the success of your SEO campaign, all while being on completely different sides of the road in regard to improving your ranking.
Still, to understand the differences between these two types of SEO, you must have a basic understanding of how these two algorithms work. By going through a basic breakdown, you will see that there are two things search engines look at when trying to compare your website with others it finds on the web.
- On-Page SEO: it looks at what your website or page is actually about.
- Off-Page SEO: it looks at how popular and authoritative your web page is.
Simply put, you are generally ranked for the on-page factors, a.k.a. the content you add to your website. However, how high you are on those ranks will be determined by what’s on the off-page side – meaning, how much traffic your website gets.
– Defining On-Page SEO
Also referred to as on-site SEO, on-page SEO is the action of optimizing different pages and parts of your website that directly influence your ranking during the search result. These are the things that you have control over, and that you can influence to change the success of your website. Here are the factors that are generally taken into consideration. Here is what you may approach to ensure that your on-page SEO is on point.
- Title Tags
Take your targeted keywords and place at least one on each page of your website. You might want to first look into some practices as to how to write a good title tag. For example, you may want to watch the length and make the keyword as visible as possible. You may also want to ensure that it’s catchy.
- URL Structure
When working on the SEO strategy of your website, you might want to make sure that the URL is not forgotten. After all, Google searches check the URL first – and then go off to the rest of the content.
However, just because it does not have the keywords, you shouldn’t go changing the links just so that they fit the standard. You shouldn’t make any changes unless you want to redirect an old link to a new one. In this case, it is best that you consult with a professional in the matter.
The headings are usually some of the most important words on the page – and for that reason, you might want to ensure that you emphasize them properly. Search engines look at the headings more than they do at the actual content of your page. This is why you might want to work the target keywords into the headings – but also make sure that they reflect exactly the message that you want to send with your article.
- Page Load Speed
The purpose of entering a good website with quality information is to get access to that information as quickly as possible. If a potential viewer sees that it takes ages for them to access the website, they won’t be sticking around for very long; instead, they will be clicking the back button and accessing the next website. As a result, if you optimize your web page to load everything quickly, you will be improving your on-page SEO.
- Internal Linking
Linking internally to other pages on your website is very useful not only for your visitors but for you as well. For the visitor, it is an opportunity to find out more about a certain matter on a different topic. For you, it is a way to keep the interest in your other posts alive.
- Page Content
Perhaps the content of your page is what matters the most – mainly because Google algorithms nowadays focus mostly on the usefulness rather than the keyword stuffing. This is why you need to ensure that users can find what they are looking for on your website.
– Understanding Off-Page SEO
While on-page SEO focuses on what occurs directly on your web page, off-page SEO is concerned with how your web page is affected by external factors. For example, off-page SEO focuses on raising your website’s authority by the means of using links from other websites.
Here’s a good analogy of how off-page SEO works. Let’s say that you have a bathtub packed with many rubber ducks – the ducks being your web pages. If they stand in the bathtub by themselves, there’s nothing that can really bring them to the top. However, if you start filling that bathtub with water (which are the links), those ducks will begin rising up at the top. Look at Wikipedia and its popularity – it has so many links that every rubber duck is set to float to the top.
This is why you need to put quite a great deal of focus on the backlinks for your off-page SEO. If you are not completely certain how to do that, here are some strategies that marketing specialists tend to use:
- Create great content that others will want to use and link due to their value.
- Sharing your content on social media that will ultimately begin to generate links.
- Outreach to influencers that may eventually link to you.
- Write guest posts for websites that have content closely related to your domain. These posts will have links that will send right back to your website.
At the same time, while link quantity still holds great importance, SEO experts and content creators have come to the realization that link quality is much more important in comparison to quantity. This is why their focus stays on things such as creating shareable content that will earn them valuable links – and therefore will improve their off-page SEO game.
At the same time, people asked themselves exactly how many links you need to have for a good off-page SEO strategy. However, that might be a difficult question to answer, as it depends on your competition’s domain authority. You want to be certain that you are not playing in a different sandbox than they are.
Moreover, SEO manipulators also used to think that if you bought links, it was considered a good way to build your off-page SEO. However, while this might have been useful in the beginning to raise your rank, Google caught on to the trick and will now penalize you for that. You may also end up penalized if you submit the links into a directory that has the only purpose to increase the authority of your domain. Once more, quality beats quantity where link building is concerned.
Some people believe that you have to choose between on and off-page SEO – but in truth, both of them are just as important. To make one more analogy, it would be like choosing whether you need a house foundation or a roof. Both of them work best when the other is present – but while you may want to work on the foundation first (on-page SEO), you should continue with on-page SEO. From time to time, there should also be some maintenance work on your “house”.
The Importance of User-Friendly Websites for SEO
Countless times you have probably heard the phrase “SEO friendly website” – but what exactly does this term entail? Why do you need one, and how exactly can you use this to make your SEO game more effective? We, you’ll be surprised to find out that the answers to this are actually easier to understand than you think.
– What Makes a Website User-Friendly?
So, what exactly makes a website user-friendly? Well, we say “user,” but it actually means that the website was meant to be easily “crawled” all while allowing the users to navigate the website swiftly without any issues.
A user-friendly website is formatted and won’t make the reader want to exit from the moment they access the website. It’s unique, but easy to use, it has a meaningful structure – and it also has understandable content that can be understood by anyone.
User-friendly websites will increase your organic traffic, as the search engine results pages (also referred to as SERP) will mostly display the pages that are most successful – and that don’t have people clicking back from the first few seconds of accessing.
– How to Make Your Website User-Friendly
Most people resort to web designers to make their websites more user-friendly. However, if you are just beginning your business and do not have the money to hire such a person, you may want to learn how to do this by yourself. Over time, you’ll learn more about what a user expects from your website – but in the meantime, this is what you may want to focus on.
- Create Digestible Content
Imagine that you have come across a nice-looking website that is easy to navigate from one page to another – but the moment you try to read the content, you feel a massive headache coming. It may not necessarily that the content is bad – but it is written in a way that is not very easy to digest by the regular reader. It may have too many fancy words or too many huge blocks of texts – all of which are not very popular among readers.
To avoid this, you might want to section the content in smaller blocks – three or four sentences tops per paragraph. It will make everything more visually appealing. Moreover, you should work with the formatting options that were placed at your disposal – such as bold, underline, bulleted or numbered lists, headers and so on. It will make it easier for the user to skim through and digest the content.
- Focus on Accessibility
One more tenet of SEO is accessibility. You should make sure that your website is not only compatible with your desktop, but with all phones and platforms as well. For instance, not everyone may have access to their computer at every time of the day – and they might have to use their phones in order to enter your website. If they see that your website is difficult to navigate on their mobile phone, they will quit all attempts and you will only end up losing your clients.
At this stage, you should also focus on making the website fast – regardless of the platform that is being used. If your website loads slowly or fails to load, it will receive a high bounce rate. This will send your potential visitors back to other websites that are more responsive.
- Avoid Popups and Lightboxes
Admit it, as a user, how many times were you eager to sign up or provide your email address as you were reading an article or trying to access a web page? Chances are, never. If you wanted to sign up, you would have done so from the very beginning – not because they started flashing those lightboxes at you. They are invasive, which is why many people opt out of websites that are bombarding them with popups.
Instead, you might want to try asking the visitor for their email or ask that they log in at the end of the article – or in-line so that they can easily skim through. Visitors like the feeling of being given the choice, so if you begin pressuring them, the chances are that they will be running for the hills soon enough.
- Add Images
Regardless of their age, people will be more confident in content that features pictures. Sure, they go there for the text – but they also like the images, as it makes everything much easier to read. However, make sure that it has been properly optimized with a good file name and that it is closely connected to the content of your website. For example, infographics have become quite a popular addition to marketing content.
In the end, a user-friendly website will keep you from losing clients every day, offering the right environment that doesn’t make them leave the website continuously. If a website is “leaky” and difficult to maneuver or read, clients will be looking for other websites that are more user-friendly. By following the advice above, you will be preventing that loss from happening.
Keyword Research for SEO
While keywords are not the only thing important for SEO anymore, they still make for a large chunk of it. You know how to show up in the search results at this point – but you also need to determine which strategic keywords you have to target in order to match the contents of your website.
The emphasis on keyword use has changed quite a lot in the past few years – but ultimately, its power lies in the way you understand your target market. The keyword research will offer you specific data – but most importantly, data that can help you get the answer to questions such as:
- What are the users looking for?
- How many users are looking for it?
- In what format do they prefer to obtain that information?
There are numerous questions that keyword research can answer. If they are used correctly, these keywords may help your brand grow. They will do that by making sure your web page is going higher and higher on the SERP (search engine results page).
– What Are Keywords and Why Do We Need Them?
Keywords may be described as words or phrases within the content of your website that will make it easier for other visitors to find you by using a search engine. They focus on the primary topic of your article, as well as the story that occurs within your writing.
Keywords are pretty much considered basic SEO elements, which is why you might want to have a good understanding of the way in which they work. You use them to make sure that you talk the same language as your customers.
Keywords allow you to know exactly what your customers are looking for and how they are looking for it. You may use them to tailor the content in a way that seems appealing to your customers and their needs.
– Choosing the Right Keywords
Not every keyword will work when it comes to SEO. You must learn how to choose the right ones – how to target the correct set of words so that you attract the audience that you desire. If you choose the wrong keywords, you may indeed be getting traffic on your website – but those people will all be coming with a different requirement in their mind.
For instance, let’s say that you are the owner of a beauty website and want to make the phrase “fix broken nails” your target phrase. It might seem relevant to you, and you surely are not wrong. However, the next thing you know is that your website is continuously clicked on by DIY enthusiasts looking for new hacks and tools. Make sure that the keywords that you choose are relevant to your niche.
– Short-Tail vs. Long-Tail Keywords
Keywords generally come in two forms: the short-tail kind and the long-tail kind. As you might have realized, short-tail keywords are those keywords that have one or two words in their length. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, have three or more words in their construction.
Long-tail keywords are generally an effective strategy for targeting your niche. Whenever a customer looks up a long-tail keyword, the chances are very high that they already have something quite specific in their mind – and that they have already done quite some research on the matter.
This means that anyone finding your website through a long-tail keyword has a better chance of clicking to view your content rather than someone looking for a generic, short-tail keyword. Anyone accessing your website through a generic keyword is most likely still in the research stage and does not know exactly what he is looking for.
– The Initial Brainstorm for Keywords
When it comes to keyword research, there are a variety of tools that you may use – including the Keyword Planner from Google. That being said, while it is a commendable move, there are quite a few steps that you might want to go through before that.
Why, you may ask? While the Google Keyword Planner does give you a close idea regarding the keywords that you should use (for instance, getting “fitness tips for women” when your input is “fitness tips”), it leaves out a whole bunch of keywords that are related to your topic but do not actually contain your seed keyword. For this reason, you might want to undergo some preparation first.
Granted, it is recommended that you also use some keyword research tools – but before blindingly using what was placed right in front of you, you might want to put your own mind to the job first. This is why, especially at the beginning, you need to have a clear image of the direction in which you plan to take your keyword research – and also ask yourself the right questions and issues.
- Website’s Mission
In order to find the right keywords for your website, you first need to figure out what the goal or mission of your website is. What is your promise to the readers? What answers do you want your content to provide? It is very important to know this, as it can help you define the initial keyword search – but you also need to be very clear about it.
- Marketing Persona
Once you have defined your mission, you also need to take a look at who your audience is. An efficient way to do so is to brainstorm and create a few fictional profiles of what you believe your ideal readers or customers would be. This way, you may begin to understand them on a personal level – all while seeing the world through their eyes.
- Related Industries
When you are trying to come up with the right keywords, you might also want to take a look at the industries that are related to yours. Now, we aren’t saying that you should copy what they are doing. Instead, you should use them as a source of inspiration and look for some things that are recurring. For instance, someone that might be interested in fitness tips might also show an interest in weight loss tips, workout equipment, and healthy recipes. You don’t have to base your entire article on those keywords, but you may use them as a way to attract visitors.
- Make a List
In the end, once you have brainstormed pretty much every area of importance, you might want to create a list with all the starter keywords that you are planning on using. Write those keywords down based on all the words that your website has to offer. Once this is done with, you may move onto the part that you were likely expecting: and that is the use of keywords research tools.
– The Use of Keyword Research Tools
Now that we have all the seed keywords in front of us, we can begin to expand them as well. At this stage, it might be a good idea to make a spreadsheet to put your keywords – mostly because the following tools will lead towards a fair number of them. Here is where you may start to get your hands on some keywords:
Most users consider this tool to be the first stop, as it is the easiest and most readily available option. It allows them to find new keywords that are related to their topic, being quite a useful choice when it comes to getting additional ideas. The only issue here is that while the keyword planner might give you similar keywords to the ones you have, it will not help you much in terms of topically related keywords.
Formerly referred to as Google Webmaster Tool, this program will show you what search keywords you are appearing for but aren’t raking particularly well. You may want to go to “Search Traffic > Search Analytics” in order to see what your missed opportunities are. Using this tool, you should be able to see which pages aren’t ranking properly so that you may insert a couple more search terms.
Another Google tool, Google Trends is a great option to compare the traffic for different keyword sets. Not only will it check the popularity of the keywords in certain regions, but it will also analyze their seasonality. Moreover, perhaps the best thing about Google Trends is that it can tell you whether the interest for a particular keyword is fading or growing. It will also provide you with keyword search suggestions that are closely related to your option.
- Google Related Searches
Whenever you are looking up something on Google, you probably notice that as you scroll down to the bottom of the page, there are a few related search queries there. Not only are they a gold mine when you are looking for long-tail keywords, but they can also be very useful when it comes to giving you extra ideas. Plus, it’s not even difficult to use – all you have to do is look up a Google search, and the suggestions will be right there for you to see.
- Yoast Google Suggest Expander
This keyword suggestions tool is perfect if you are looking for something basic yet useful. Mining off from Google Suggests (the suggestions that appear whenever you are looking up something on Google), the Yoast tool will add words before and after your keyword, coming up with new keywords this way.
Like the Yoast tool, this one also feeds off on Google Suggests and provides you with other related searches. All you have to do is add your seed keyword, and you will receive many other suggestions that people tend to look up on Google. Choose the ones that you believe are most related to your topic – but also make sure that you choose the ones that have the most searches, as you want to actually make them visible on Google.
This tool is yet one more efficient option to come up with related keywords. You may type in any seed keyword that you have, and it will provide suggested search queries from platforms such as Wikipedia, Amazon, Google Suggest, Ask.com, YouTube, and many more.
With these many keyword tools, the chances are that your spreadsheet is now packed with so many keywords that you don’t even know what to do with them. Still, your website doesn’t have to be optimized around all of them – you just need to learn how to sort through them.
– Evaluating the Commercial Intent
Perhaps the best way to pick the right keywords is to use the ones that have the highest search volumes. After all, your purpose here is to increase your search traffic, isn’t it? Even so, as regular traffic isn’t all that matters, you should focus your attention on the targeted keywords.
Be honest with yourself: most times, you don’t just want the visitors to come by your website, look around for a bit, and then leave once more. You want them to stick around for a bit more – and to take some sort of action to connect to your website.
The best way to determine whether they are likely to do so or not is to take a look at the commercial intent hidden behind the used keywords. By “commercial intent,” we refer to the readiness of someone in regard to making a purchase.
Not only does this influence the conversion rate on a particular website, but also the click-through. This is exactly why you may want to find the keywords that have a higher commercial intent. To do so, you may start by dividing the keywords into a few separate categories:
- The “buy now” keywords: These keywords will include words such as “buy,” “discount,” or “coupon.” The “buy now” keywords are generally used for the people that are ready to pull their wallets out and make a purchase. They are call-to-action keywords that subtly influence them into taking action.
- The product keywords: These keywords are specific phrases that are generally used when people are looking for a product in particular or a review. Users that are looking up this kind of keyword usually have something in their mind and are only searching for some extra information before they decide to make the purchase.
- The tire kicker keywords: these keywords include searches such as “download” or “free.” These keywords are mostly for window shoppers that are looking to collect information on a purchase that they might want to make in the future.
- The informational keywords: These are your usual “top xyz” or “how to…” searches whose purpose is to find broad overviews and comparisons. These viewers are generally in the earlier stages of their buying cycle and are mostly looking for information on a particular service or product.
If you need something with high commercial intent, you might want to look into the product and “buy now” keywords. At the same time, you might not want to completely disregard the other keyword types – particularly the informational ones. These keywords are the staple of blogging articles – which is what most people tend to look for. In the end, by determining the categories of keywords that you need, you should be able to thin them out quite a bit.
– The Competition Evaluation
You evaluated your own content – but you have to remember that you are not alone on the market. You have quite a lot of competition trying to get higher up than you – and if a certain keyword is commercially viable and very popular, the chances are that your competition is also going to try and use it to rank up.
That being said, this does not mean that you should try to rank for the keywords that have no competition – it might be rather difficult to find any good ones. However, you may still get to the top of the game by trying to outcompete them with the same keywords. The secret here is to use the right keywords for your niche and mix them with some that are less fought over – but do not make that your primary concern.
Still, how do you analyze the competition in your search for the right keywords? First things first, you should look at the pages that appear highest on the Google search – because you can trust them that they’re doing a better job. However, instead of copying their style, you should focus on creating content that is even better than the one that has ranked up.
For instance, let’s say that the first results that are showing up are a few blog spots that are quite shallow and short in length. To rank up higher than they are, you might want to go with an article that has more depth and features more of the right keywords. Try to determine exactly what keywords they are using and focus on adding more weight to your content.
In the end, keyword research is an essential aspect of SEO. It allows you to find the right keywords for your website – those that allow you to go higher for relevant searches and reach your targeted traffic. It is not something very complicated – but you have to know your audience and competition.
When it comes to building up your domain, you need to make sure that you are on top of your SEO game. This doesn’t only involve the use of keywords – but it also implies using them in the right context while making things sound natural. Since “black hat SEO” is frowned upon, you need to learn how to properly apply the white hat kind.
In the past, SEO was focused on quantity – but now it is focused on quality. The more you optimize your content for humans, the more successful your website will be. Hopefully, our guide managed to help you out into how to apply proper SEO to your text.website.
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