Keyword Research and Its Importance in SEO
You could make an argument that proper keyword research and implementation is the most important, and effective, SEO tool. That is because good keyword research…
1 – Helps you rank for the right keywords and phrases
2 – Reveals words and phrases relevant to your niche that are easy, moderately difficult and difficult to rank for
Without doing keyword research, you may chase particular words and phrases that have very difficult competition. There is absolutely no reason to even attempt to out-SEO the huge websites and companies that rank high for terms like “weight loss”. After you do some keyword research, you may find that a term such as “over 50 weight loss tips” is much easier to rank for, because it has a lot less competition.
Here are a few different types of keywords.
- Longtail keywords – phrases with 3 or more words
- Navigational keywords – YouTube and Procter & Gamble are examples of keywords used to locate a particular website or brand
- Head-term keywords – These are words or phrases you want to rank for that contain just 1 or 2 words
- Informational keywords – Keyword phrases which begin “how to …” or “where can I find …” are used to inform your visitors
- Transactional keywords – These are keywords and phrases which are farther along the buying cycle, such as “buy tennis shoes online” or “where can I buy …”
Here are a few popular free and paid keyword research tools.
- Google Adwords: Keyword Planner
- Google Correlate
- Uber Suggest
- AdWord & SEO Keyword Permutation Generator
- Moz Keyword Explorer
Common SEO Myths
There are some truths and some lies about search engine optimization you need to know. Keep the following points in mind every time you attempt to let the search engines know what you are writing about, and when you are trying to rank high for particular keywords.
If you practice black hat SEO tactics, you certainly do run the risk of getting delisted by Google, Bing, Yahoo and others. Paying link farms for thousands of backlinks to your site and buying fake reviews for your products and services is not a smart way to grab Google’s attention. However, smart SEO practices, such as adding alt text to your images and internally linking your content are things that Google appreciates you doing.
This used to be a very effective SEO tactic. You would build 5 or 10 blogs or websites, all on the same basic topic. You would link one to another, and that website to the next, continuing until you had a complete circle of sites linked to one another. Then each one of those sites would point directly to your main blog. Google has come out in recent years and said that they do not look very fondly on this practice.
Search engine algorithms are always changing. You are always adding new content to your site, or you should be. Some content gets outdated. Links may “die”, because the websites you are linking to and from disappear. There are a lot of reasons for looking at search engine optimization as an ongoing process, and not a one-time job.
When Google’s own John Mueller in 2015 stated that link building is something he would try to avoid if he wanted to keep Google happy and he was building a website, concerned bloggers began pulling down their backlinks.
Natural backlinks, internal backlinks and other healthy SEO practices are appreciated by the search engines. They let search engines know how influential your site is, and where your traffic is coming from. What Mueller was referring to is the practice of building hundreds or thousands of links to a site or webpage that are not naturally and honestly created.
No, you really don’t want to do that. Writing tons and tons of content trying to link your blog posts and web content only for the keyword phrase “how to make money blogging” is a waste of time. The best way to rank for any particular niche or topic is to have several long, relevant, valuable pieces of content that have to do with all the topics and keywords and phrases that relate to your main focus.
This will get you traffic coming in for multiple longtail and shorter keywords and phrases. When Google sees that a whole bunch of different words and phrases, all related to a particular niche, are sending people to your site, each one of those individual keywords begins to rise in the rankings. Target multiple, relevant keywords and phrases, rather than just 1 or 2.
Tracking Your SEO Success
Web analytics give you valuable insights into the people that show up on your blog. There are incredibly useful pieces of software and analytic platforms that can show your visitors’ demographics, the actions they take when they’re on your site, their interests and the keywords that led them to you.
This means you definitely must have a Google Analytics account.
Google is the king of the search engines. So it would only make sense to let them tell you what they think is important about how people get to your webpages, and what they do once they are there. Honestly, signing up for a Google Analytics account and digging into the information is absolutely crucial for SEO success.
If you do not take advantage of the Google Analytics data that is being compiled and that is free to access, you may as well try to fly a plane as a rookie pilot with a blindfold on. Go to the following link now and sign up for an account if you do not already have one. It is free to do so.
Once you have an account, give your GA about 30 days to start compiling information. After that time, you can use this analytic platform to compare your blog’s performance on two separate dates. You can also look at your progress or lack of progress regarding traffic and other metrics over a long time-frame, and access plenty of other free information that basically tells you what content is working for you and what content is not.
Once in GA, click on the “Acquisition” tab on the left. Scroll down to the “All Traffic” section and you can see how many people are arriving on your blog, and where they came from. When you notice that a particular website or social media channel is delivering the bulk of your traffic, it is very easy to focus your content marketing and SEO efforts in that area.
Another powerful tool in Google Analytics is the “Organic Search Report”. This report lets you measure your overall performance of search engine traffic, exactly how many people Google is sending to your website because they searched for keywords and phrases relevant your blog. Page views, unique page views, total numbers of sessions, total numbers of users, and conversion rates are all important pieces of data Google compiles and presents to you in GA.
This is the biggest search engine in the world telling you exactly what is working for your site, and what isn’t. You can then take the appropriate action to improve your performance.
The following tools are also good for tracking your level of SEO success.
- Have a Mint.com
For WordPress blogs and websites, use …
- Google Analytics by Monster Insights
- AFS Analytics
- Jetpack by WordPress.com
- Simple Feed Stats
- WP Power Stats
- WP Statistics
Social Media as an SEO Tool
You probably don’t need to be told that Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are what are known as social media sites. People hang out there to socialize. They don’t go there to be sold something. Social media networks are where people go to let their hair down, and in general, they have less than professional attitudes and expectations.
Social media is important for your blogging success, especially as an SEO tool. One of the most important pieces of the Google algorithm when they consider where they are going to rank your website for certain words and phrases is authority. If you take two identical websites, and one has an active social media following of 2,000 people, and the other one only has 200 people reading that site’s content, take a wild guess as to which one Google is going to favor in the search engine rankings because of a higher authority score.
Get active on your social media networks. Don’t try to sell. Simply inform and have fun. See what people are talking about and how they are behaving, and act in the same way. For every 3 or 4 posts or updates that are informational, fun and contain no links back to your blog, post an article or blog update to your social media accounts with a link back to your content.
2 Successful “Old School” SEO Methods That
The following 2 SEO techniques used to be extremely good at getting you relevant traffic. Not only do they not work anymore, Google frowns upon them, and is more likely to punish you that reward you for these tactics.
Back in the earliest part of the 21st century, you could simply cram the same keyword into your content over and over, and Google would send you traffic. In some cases, the traffic was significant. Unfortunately, content like this just doesn’t read properly. Consider the following.
“Dog training programs are great for training dogs. If you are looking for a dog training program, there are probably some behavioral issues you are trying to correct with your pooch. You could purchase a dog training program online, or buy a book about dog training. If you would like to see some highly rated dog training programs, check our list below.”
That was probably very hard for you to read. It just doesn’t flow. You keep getting pounded in the head about dog training programs, and in the olden days, this type of writing would get lots of traffic. Make sure you don’t do this, and you write to be understood first. Then you can go back and add industry-specific keywords here and there.
Keyword density is a phrase that describes how many times every 100 words you have a particular keyword or phrase. In the above example about dog training programs, the keyword density is roughly 6.6%. That means every 100 words, the phrase “dog training program(s)” would be found 6.6 times. Yikes! That’s too much, and Google will spank you.
These days, having a particular word or a variation of the word 2 times every 100 words is more than enough to let the search engines know what your content is about.
Anchor text is the text which is contained in an external link that points to one of your blog posts or webpages. In the past, again using the above example, you would have almost all your backlinks containing the anchor text “dog training program”.
Just like keyword stuffing, this doesn’t make Google very happy anymore. They want content that is natural. If you have a blog post that has 100 backlinks pointing to it from other sites and social media channels, you want several words and phrases that are related to the main idea of that blog post. If you are writing about dog training, you may want the anchor text on incoming links to use several of the following dog training-related phrases.
- Dog training
- Dog training programs
- How to train your dog
- Housebreaking your puppy
- Teaching your dog to heel
- Stopping your dog from biting
All those phrases ensure that Google will send you traffic related to those topics. Google likes to see variety, with that variety having a central focus or theme. Be sure to use anchor text that definitely relates to whatever webpage or blog post you are pointing to, and focus on several relevant phrases rather than using only one.