This is the internet. Things change.
If you don’t have a team of SEO experts waiting to show you a database full of keywords and phrases to implement, have no fear. We’ll show you how to quickly and effectively plan and build a list of keywords that you can evolve to match the changes in your business and industry.
Get this process down once, and do it over and over quarterly to keep your content and community on par with where you are internally.
Here’s how you do it.
What’s there now?
To get started, you need to figure out what keywords you rank for and what your current content focus is. When a prospective customer comes to your homepage, can they tell what you do and what your value proposition is after only 15 seconds?
Before blowing me off and saying “yes, yes, of course,” test it. Write out your elevator pitch, then copy your homepage content below it. How closely do they match? Are there words you used in your elevator pitch that aren’t used on your homepage?
Highlight keywords and phrases that define your product in general as well as unique features. Sign in to Google Analytics (or Buzzsumo) and look at which blog posts bring in the most visitors and are shared the most. If one article is bringing in users but isn’t shared, it’s more than likely that your headline is utilizing useful keywords, but your content isn’t up to snuff.
Create a spreadsheet of keywords and phrases you currently use, highlighting ones on pages where users are spending the most time. If you have a Google Ads or Moz account, upload your top ranking keywords. This will give you a foundation of key words and phrases that you currently utilize.
What should be there?
If you have an Adwords account, plug these keywords in and record the average number of searches per week. If you don’t have an Adwords account, plug the keywords into Topsy and see what comes out.
Forget the number of Tweets per week if it’s not relevant to your target audience, but do take a look at the content that shows up. Is it relevant to what you do? Of the content that is relevant to you, what other keywords do you notice being used? Is the content being shared?
- Pro Tip: A nifty little tool we like to use here is the MozBar. It’s free to download, and becomes an unobtrusive addition to your browser bar. When looking through relevant content, you want to know how authoritative the site is you’re looking at. The MozBar will give a score to each site based on deep SEO science-knowledge. With that being said, remember that the MozBar is a bot, and there are a lot of factors that go into this score. We use it as a point of reference for authority when looking for content from influencers.
As you’re going through this content, write down the words and phrases that apply to you and come from authoritative sites where content is being shared. When you aggregate this data, you’ll start to see some patterns around certain keywords. Who is using what keywords and phrases? Which audience is engaging with each phrase? This quick little study won’t take more than about 45 minutes, but it can change your whole content strategy.
Now that you have a few key phrases to focus on, do a quick audit of your own site. Look at which pages on your site speak to each keyword or phrase, and how effective each page is. Sign into Google Analytics and look at how much time users spend on the page, how often they go from that page to another page on the site (pages per visit), and how many conversions can be attributed to (or supported by) that page.
In addition to onsite content, you are probably already using keywords to target customers through marketing tools. If you have a Socedo account, check out your reports page. Which conversational keywords show the highest follow back rate, click-through rate and/or the most conversions? These can be hints as to the most powerful keywords to use when describing your product or service.
Additionally, the influencers you may use as conversational keywords can provide great insight into new keywords. Look at the influencers that are producing followers for your account when used as conversational keywords. What are they talking about? What solutions do they tweet about?
Influencers have the inside knowledge about up and coming trends, including language. Each industry has certain keywords that are in and out of style. If you stick with the same keywords for even six or nine months, you may be labeling yourself as out-of-touch with the industry.
The highest-functioning bio keywords can also be useful when you talk about who can use your product on your site. You already know who your market is and what they talk about.
This is a fun way to discover key phrases you may be missing out on. Simply start typing a keyword into a search engine and see what queries automate in the search bar. Scroll down to a key phrase you don’t currently incorporate into your lexicon, and see what comes up. Is the key phrase something you can incorporate seamlessly into your current content? If so, are the search results comparable to what your audience is seeking?
The answer to that last question may be something to think about in two ways: If a search term matches content on your site and the content that comes up isn’t valuable, you have discovered a new opportunity to present value where there isn’t any. However, if the content that comes up is relevant to your product, you don’t want your competitors to take the audience that is searching for this term, so this presents an opportunity to create content from a slightly different perspective that will stand out in the search results.
It’s time to learn what you’re doing right and what opportunities you’re missing out on. Browse your competitors’ sites, taking note of keywords and phrases they use, what types of content they use (video, imagery, interactive, long form, bullet points, etc.), and where your attention tends to focus. What phrases do they focus on? How do they describe their product or service?
Also check out their social media sites and RSS feeds for ideas on content to focus on. Keep in mind that your target market will (hopefully) vary slightly from that of your competitors, and you should never mimic language that is already being used.
By now you should have a list (or two or five) of keywords and phrases to be used for various audiences and products (or aspects of your service).
Be sure to revisit the language you discovered from competitors and influencers. These will help craft your unique voice based around content that is valuable to your audience and also applies to your company.
So let’s get started. Instead of replacing all your onsite content with these new phrases you discovered, you’ll want to test it out.
Testing via Blog Posts
Remember those blog posts you looked at in the very beginning? If you found some with great headlines and unengaging copy, search for the same keywords on a search engine and see what articles come up. Where are the gaps? Were you using keywords that don’t apply to what you were talking about, or is the content that shows up more specific?
- Pro Tip: Remember that blog copy must be authoritative yet friendly. If your eyes start to glaze over while reading your own blog copy, start again. Break up paragraphs, use images. Most people don’t read blog posts all the way through, but scan them and sometimes come back when the information is more relevant. Keep this in mind as you’re looking through your blog content.
When it comes to keywords, only utilize the ones that are relevant to your product and your audience. Don’t overstuff keywords or phrases, as that is a surefire way to get a Google penalty.
Share the Value
Revise or rewrite underperforming blog posts to make them more relevant and engaging, and re-share via social media. After a month, is the time on page rising? Are people bouncing off or going to another page? The blog is a great place to test out keywords without slowing down your sales funnel. Once you know what works, bring it to your site.
Testing Onsite Content
After going through the list of keywords and phrases you need to focus on, revisit your onsite content. Your products or services page should reflect the content relevant to your audience.
Start with the headline and/or intro copy, and A/B test keywords you found in your research. Wait at least a month (or three weeks if you have a lot of visitors and the results are above 90%) before rolling out changes.
After you have a headline and intro copy that resonates with your users and increases engagement, start testing the rest of the copy. On your products page, do you have your product features or benefits listed first? Test each.
The results from these test are easy to see in Google Analytics and/or Optimizely. In Google Analytics, look to see if the time on page and time on site increase and the bounce rate decreases. In Optimizely, the results will be more obvious depending on your goal.
After you’ve tested content, it’s time to optimize. Optimizing content to reach the exact audience you want sounds like a complex process, and you’re right, it is. That’s why this blog post is so long. But you’re already there at the end, optimizing your copy through testing. The next step is to record which keywords are working for which product or service you provide, and which content is being engaged with. And if you actually read this post the whole way through (you 2%, you!), you’d know that some keywords may change according to the fads of the industry. You’d also know that influencers are the best way to learn which keywords are the most engaging in order to optimize your copy.
So if your testing runs dry and you need fresh new ideas, I have great news for you: you already have a process to rediscover new keywords and phrases that can help you. You just read it. When you want to connect and engage with your target audience and influencers, reach out to us at Socedo and we can help automate audience research that usually sucks up hours out of your day.
Remember, unicorns don’t exist. One golden list of SEO keywords simply isn’t possible. But even if you don’t have a connection at Google or Bing, you can still find the core list of keywords and phrases to create content that speaks to your audience both onsite and on social media.