You already know that ranking high in Internet search engine results pages (SERPs) is important for your business or school. But it’s equally important to rank well for the right keywords.
If your site ranks at the top for “hippopotamus dentures,” good for you. But if no one is searching for that term (and I’m willing to bet they’re not), it doesn’t matter. It won’t drive traffic to your site. It won’t generate conversions. It won’t build your business – and so it’s a waste of resources.
The trick is to find the sweet spot for your business or institution – the keywords that closely describe your offer and the value to your customers, that relate to the content on your site in a meaningful, relevant way, and that people search for in volume.
It’s very challenging to rank highly for a single keyword, like “jobs” or “widgets” or “chocolate.” Fortunately, with the massive number of pages indexed in Google (not even Google tries to count them anymore) search users know it’s also very hard to find what they’re looking for using a single keyword. Instead, they tend to search by combining multiple keywords into longer phrases, narrowing their search to terms that are more relevant to what they want. For the examples above, search phrases might be “retail part-time jobs near me” (why, hello there, Macy’s!) or “purple fiberglass widgets for light fixture” or “gourmet chocolate with raspberry cream.” These are called “long-tail” keywords, and finding the right ones for your business will help you achieve the results you’re seeking.
Google helps out, too, by tailoring search results to the user’s location if that’s enabled on the user’s device, and by finding context based on search history. For example, if you’ve been searching for a recipe for lemon pound cake (and if you are, I’d like to come over for dessert), Google is going to tailor your results to focus more on food-related content. If you’re angry about issues you’ve been having with your car and your search history reflects that, you’re going to get different content for lemon-related searches.
Of course it’s wonderful to rank well for your company name (and you should). But if your goal is to raise awareness, that’s not going to help much – because only the people who already know about you and are searching for your name are going to find you.
The most important thing to remember is that your keywords MUST be relevant to your site’s content – otherwise, the search engines consider them spam, and you’re not only not going to rank well, you risk getting your site penalized or even blacklisted. And,as we mentioned above, they also need to be terms users are searching for. So the next question is “how do I determine what keywords my target audience is using to search for my product or service?”
There are some powerful tools that can help you determine that. Google AdWords provides monthly search volumes for keywords and phrases, and also offers a free tool to generate additional keyword ideas based on your initial list. You do need a Google AdWords account to use these tools, though setting one up is free. If you don’t want to use Google AdWords, here are a few others:
Once you’ve identified your keywords, the next step is to correctly integrate them into your site content, and we’ll cover the basics of that in a future post. Or, we can help you. Drop us a line or give us a call, and let’s figure out how to build your visibility.