When you think of SEO (search engine optimization) do you think of keyword stuffing, poorly written content, or irrelevant links? If you do, then you’re not alone, and that’s because many people out there have tried (and failed) at trying to trick the search engines into giving them credit in search rankings that they don’t necessarily deserve. And if there’s anything search engines have taught us with their constant upgrades and revised algorithms, it’s that they don’t like being tricked, and for good reason.
Search engines such as Google want to deliver the best, most useful content to their users. They want to answer our questions quickly and efficiently, and they have a variety of ways they determine exactly how to do that. I won’t get into those details today, but I do want to share with you how, when used correctly, keywords can help you not only get found in search engines but even more importantly… help you create content that humans (and specifically your target persona) want to read, and ideally share with their friends and colleagues.
If your marketing plan includes a content strategy focused on publishing useful, informative, shareable content (which it should!) then unethical SEO practices simply go against everything you’re striving for. However, this doesn’t mean SEO should be viewed as a dirty word.
In all reality, an effective keyword strategy should be viewed as market research that will help you uncover:
2. The exact language that searchers use (because it’s often different that those of us in the industry)
Instead of simply guessing which words to use when explaining a topic or assuming you understand the exact needs of your clients and prospects, keyword research gives you a peek into their minds and allows you to see exactly the actions they take. Search engines love when you use keyword research in this way, because it means you are creating better content that speaks the same language as searchers AND answers the questions they have.
So, how exactly do you do this?
First you’ll want to complete a thorough keyword analysis for your website using tools like the free Google Keyword Tool or fee-based software like HubSpot. Then you’ll be able to identify the keywords relevant to your needs. These should apply to your business and target persona, but also have a decent search volume (meaning people are actually searching for these phrases) and a difficulty level that isn’t out of reach (not too competitive).
Finally, you’ll want to use these keyword phrases to develop content around them. Remember – these search terms are related to answers being sought online so use this information to create blog posts, eBooks, podcasts, videos, etc. that will answer these questions using the right language.
Yes, it’s that simple.
You’ll of course want to follow some basic optimizing best practices to be sure you are providing search engines with the correct information in order for you to be found. But now the next time someone dismisses SEO claiming it doesn’t work anymore, you know the truth behind properly putting together a keyword strategy and utilizing it to your advantage – without breaking the rules. It’s not about stuffing keywords into irrelevant posts… it’s about using the language of your readers. It’s not about pumping out mediocre content just to show up in search rankings… it’s about answering the real life questions that your best prospects and clients have. That’s what a true content marketing strategy looks like – one that will deliver you traffic, leads, and results.
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