Head of Digital
Posted on January 3, 2017
Attracting new visitors to your website is a critical part of any online marketing campaign. Whilst there are numerous paid options available, few digital strategies would be complete without an element of Search Engine Optimisation. Driving traffic through organic rankings has several key benefits, including a flat rate cost model (costs are not attributed to each visitor), greater levels of visitor trust and generally speaking, higher conversion rates.
On a basic level organic rankings are achieved through quality content, combined with the authority of your website (the number and quality of other websites linking to yours). The two factors are inextricably linked. Strong content improves the likelihood of other websites linking to yours.
When discussing SEO, keywords inevitably get mentioned. Which keywords do you target? How do you choose the right keywords? How do you effectively build keywords into your content? In this post, we give an overview of how to choose the right keywords, selecting keywords which have search volume, are relevant and are not too competitive.
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Does keyword research still have a place in SEO?
Over the last 18 months there has been a lot of debate about whether website content should be based around keywords. In short, the answer is “yes”, but not in the way it has previously been done. In previous years keyword density was a core focus of SEO. Marketers would identify keywords and create webpages around those keywords, aggressively ‘stuffing’ keywords into the page content and HTML.
This method is long since depreciated and these days Google is seeking quality content, based around key themes (not the same as keywords). In plain English, Google is seeking quality, in-depth content around a topic – not a specific keyword. Keyword research is still a fundamental part of SEO, but savvy marketers are using it to generate keyword themes / topics and basing content around these.
Relevancy is key
Before you start generating keywords (and subsequently key themes), it is important to keep in mind that relevancy is key. Choosing keywords which have a large search volume is tempting, but may prove a wasted effort if these keywords are not relevant to your business or are simply too competitive. Relevant keywords will drive relevant traffic and will lead to higher conversion rates.
Before you delve into using online keyword tools, it is best to start generating a list of potential keywords. Keyword tools can be used later to validate your ideas and generate others.
- Brainstorming: This sounds simplistic, but form a small group and write down every possible keyword idea you can think of. Remember to check them for relevancy
- Ask existing clients: Expand upon your brainstorming list by asking your existing clients. You may often find that they would use keywords that you haven’t considered
- Look at your competition: Take a close look at your competitor’s websites, their blogs and articles. What topics are they writing about, which keywords can you identify?
Validating ideas and generating others
After you have generated your initial keywords it is time to validate them, find new ideas and remove any ‘bad’ keywords. You’re looking for keywords which have traffic, are relevant and do not have high levels of competition. Online keyword tools (e.g. Google Keyword Tool, Moz and SEM Rush) provide an ideal way to identify these.
Let’s take the example of an asset manager, who has identified the possible keyword ‘asset management firm’ as part of their brainstorming exercise. The Moz Keyword Tool provides the following statistics:
We can see that:
- The keyword has a reasonable search volume (between 201 and 500 searches per month)
- Is moderately difficult to rank for (with a difficulty score of 46)
- The opportunity to get clicks by ranking for the term is quite high
- Therefore it has a reasonable potential
The tool also shows that there are also over 1,000 other related keywords which the asset manager may wish to consider. At this point you can start to expand your potential keywords by viewing other suggestions, then ranking your combined ideas by relevancy, traffic and competition.
Finally it is time to start to generate content ideas around your chosen keywords. Remember though, this is not an exercise of creating content and ‘stuffing’ a keyword into it. Google will be far more responsive to in-depth content which explores a theme.
So in the example above, rather than just mentioning ‘asset management firm’ over and over again, write detailed content which incorporates related phrases (e.g. investments, retirement, hedge-funds and wealth management) to form a key theme.
Keyword research can be one of the most time consuming SEO tasks, however it forms the basis of your whole SEO campaign. Without effective keyword research, it is difficult to generate the right content and attract the right visitors to your website.
At each stage, remember to keep it relevant and keep the quality of your content high – content is king as they say!