How to Build an Effective Keyword Strategy

By September 11, 2016SEO

A swanky, fast website that uses the wrong keywords is likely to fail.

The more effective keywords you pick, the more they’ll bring visitors to your website.

Use this simple process and you won’t fail:

Identify your keywords > Measure their performance > Repeat!

For your strategy to be doable and beneficial, you need to know your product, measure your performance, be organized and use a common sense.

Let’s get specific.

  1. Know Your Product

When I say “know the product” I mean it. If you don’t know your business 110 percent, your audience probably doesn’t either.

WooTip: Start by writing all of the keywords that come to mind as being related to your business. Even if some of them sound absurd or ridiculous, just do it.

Let’s take the example of a guy, we’ll call him Jerry, who runs a coworking space in the city of Bristol, UK. He has office space for rent as individual desks in a common room. He’s concerned about his keyword rankings, as seen in WooRank’s SERPs tool (the number we give to search engine results that rank out of the first ten pages in Google and Bing for a certain query). Even his main keywords are only providing ‘+100’ rankings.

Let’s suppose Jerry’s WooRank user account is set up like this:

He’s clearly not aware of buzzwords in his industry or terms his potential audience will search to try to find the service he provides. In Jerry’s case, the key term needed is ‘coworking’.

Check out the revised keywords below:

As you can see, we first changed the location setting of the search engine. As a local business, most of Jerry’s customers will come from the UK, so using this setting rather than the general Google one will give him much more accurate results on how his keywords rank in his location.

We also changed which keywords to track (the core of the SERPs tool). We tried to cover all the keyword possibilities keeping in mind that local variations and misspellings are already present in our user settings, and utilizing short-tail (two words or less) & long-tail (three words or more) keyword strings.

As it might get a bit confusing listing out all your keyword options, we have detailed three types of keywords to keep in mind, as well as providing a sample cheat sheet to brainstorm keywords for your business.

Cheatsheet: Don’t overlook any keyword variation!

Keyword Category Example Keyword
Keyword Coworking
synonyms office, coworking office, spare office, atelier,
keyword by its content coworking desk, coworking space, office desk, office space,
general terms places to work, cafes, libraries
branded keywords The Mates coworking,
location [location] + keyword
keyword + [location]
keyword + near + [location]
keyword + near + [service, facility]
[location] + [sinonym, general term]
long tail variations looking for [keyword, synonyms, general term]
searching for [keyword, synonyms, general term]
in search of [keyword, synonyms, general term]looking for [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]
searching for [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]
in search of [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]
qualificative terms best [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]
cheap [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]
economic [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]
luxury [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]lowest price [keyword, synonyms, general term]
best value [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]
hipster [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]
modern [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]
art nouveau [keyword, synonyms, general term] + [location]

Generic keywords: these are generic words that describe your business as well as other businesses in your niche. Given the immense competition among paid and organic results, ranking for these keywords is difficult. Nevertheless, your audience is likely to search for these terms in the first stage.

Long-tail keywords: About 70 percent of queries are long-tail. Even if you think longer keywords might not be used frequently by your audience, remember that all combinations of long-tail keywords can provide as much traffic as the short-tail keywords. Keep that in mind and think about some effective phrases.

Location-based keywords: These keywords are especially good for local businesses because they contain business’ location. The competition for these keywords may be high or low depending on the location but local customers are most likely to find you and convert using these keywords.

  1. Measure your performance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good keyword strategy should change over time.

Your business might pivot over time and your audience might change consequently. To make your business rank higher in the long term, your keyword strategy needs to be in tune with your actions.

Use tools such as Google Trends to predict keywords that are most likely to be searched in the coming months.

Measure your keywords’ performance

By using tools like Google Analytics you’ll understand if the selected keywords are accomplishing the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you have determined. Here are some ideas about how to do the measurement:

  • Average time spent on your site

If visitors stick around on your site for a minute or less, their visit is considered negligible. If they stay for more than a minute, you can consider them as potential clients. If they spend a considerable amount of time on your website, they are likely to come back or to take action on conversion areas you have included in your site (call-to-actions, downloads, contact forms, etc.).

  • Pages visited

This metric can help you to know if you have well-organized content or not. Effective keywords can provide good traffic to the pages a visitor sees as a result of that keyword query. If you use Google Analytics for measuring your visits, you follow this path: Traffic sources > Search > Organic > Landing Pages as 1st dimension & 2nd dimension: Keyword.

Let’s say one of your landing gathers lots of visitors because of a specific keyword, but at the same time it has a high bounce rate. Well, even if your landing is optimized for that keyword, you might be not offering your visitors what they want.

  • Bounce rate

If you notice a high bounce rate on your website, that’s something wrong that has to be fixed. There is often more than one explanation for a high bounce rate, so more than one solution.

Maybe your keywords are not providing the results you are looking for. If that’s the case, identify more keywords until you find the most effective ones. Then, keep using them while also optimizing new keywords (brand keywords).

Doing this keyword measurement means improving your performance. If your site is not prevalent in SERPs and you don’t improve it, you will get lost among the millions of other competing sites out there.

  • Use your keywords in your content. Frequently.

Once you have chosen the best keywords, use them repeatedly in your content. Use an Excel sheet to track how many times you use those terms in your content because the latest Google algorithm update penalizes pages whose anchor text is over-optimized.

Try to make your target keywords part of your marketing strategy. Create branded keywords that include your target keyword along with the name of your brand, company or commercial name.

Keep a separate report of the performance of your target keywords vs. your branded keywords as the latter will give you a real perspective on how your branded product is being established online.

In Google Analytics you can do this by using the same path we detailed before: Traffic Sources > Search > Organic > Advanced filter. Enter a specific keyword or use the RegEx generator to cover all the possibilities that you have in mind. Make sure that you create at least two advanced filters: one that includes all your branded keywords, another that excludes them.

Keep an eye on your competitors’ new keywords.

Despite the fact that Google announced that they are no longer taking into account keywords in the meta keyword tag, still there are many companies that continue to use it. This lack of awareness can help you determine which keywords your competitors are optimizing.

  1. Be Organized and Consistent

A successful keyword strategy depends on several factors:

  • How fast your content gets indexed by different search engines
  • How fast your keywords rank in the first pages of the SERPs
  • How fast your competitors’ keywords rank

Below, you can find our suggested stages for implementing your keyword strategy. It’s up to you to decide the right time to move to each stage. In our opinion, SMEs that need to boost their presence on the web need to start with a general keyword strategy without any worries about competitors. This strategy can then evolve over time to include more and more branded keywords as well as aiming for some SERPs of better-known competitors.

The Stages of a Keyword Strategy

Stage 1

Start with a brainstorming session of keywords that you find relevant.

  • Keywords with which competitors are not ranking in the first 3 pages of SERPs.
  • General keywords.
  • Branded keywords.

Stage 2

Focus on your industry environment. Are there keywords that your competition might have neglected? Use them to pull ahead your website! But don’t lose sight of your general and branded keywords.

  • Keywords that competitors are ranking for in the 3rd-2nd page.
  • General keywords.
  • Branded keywords.

Stage 3

Aim for keywords that your competition use more frequently, but maybe not most frequently. Explore:

  • Keywords that competitors are ranking for in the 2nd page.
  • Branded keywords.

Stage 4

Pinpoint some of the keywords that generate business for your competitors. Look for:

  • Keywords that competitors are ranking for in the 2nd page.
  • A few keywords that competitors are ranking for in the 1st page.
  • Branded keywords.

Stage 5

Chase down the keywords most frequently used by your competition. Focus on:

  • Keywords that have competitors are ranking in the 1st page of search results
  • Branded keywords

Are your competitors paying for certain keywords?

Before immediately sponsoring a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign for certain keywords, keep an eye on your competitors for the best moment to do it. An SEM campaign implies a daily expenditure that most companies can’t afford for long. If you are determined to spend some money on it, then measure your ROI. After 3 – 4 months of watching, you’ll understand if it’s worth it to spend money on search engine ads. Identify your competitors’ timing for purchasing search engine ads, and try to replace them when they are not actively sponsoring results.

WooTip: You can use WooRank Website Reviews to determine if a competitor is paying search engines to show promoted search results.

Now, you know what to do: identify your keywords > measure their performance > repeat!

Do you have experiences or questions about building a keyword strategy? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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Geoffrey Purkis

About Geoffrey Purkis

Geoffrey Purkis is the owner and creator of seattlewebsearch.com. He's a WordPress / Web developer, SEO and online marketer located in Seattle, WA. He is active on all of the major social networks and enjoys writing and teaching small business owners how to leverage the Internet to promote and grow their business.

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