Google handles over 2 trillion searches every year, which breaks down to 57,000 searches every second. Millions of queries will be made by the time you finish reading this article. Many of these queries are from consumers looking to discover, evaluate, and compare their options before making a buying decision. The role search engines play in the buyer journey of today’s consumer is why having an SEO keyword strategy is crucial for a successful marketing plan.
What is the Purpose of an SEO Keyword Strategy?
The purpose of an SEO keyword strategy is not only to generate more traffic to your website, but also to generate the right traffic. Search engines have advanced tremendously since the days where you can stuff your page with any keywords and rank on the first results page. Keywords are merely the starting point of a good SEO strategy.
Creating an SEO keyword strategy helps you get to better know your target customer. The goal of an SEO strategist is to get inside the target customer’s head and figure out what terms they are using to search for the information they need to make a purchase. There are three types of search queries:
- Navigational Queries
- Informational Queries
- Transactional Queries
Navigational queries are made to get to a specific website. For a business owner, this is the name of your company. Titanium Marketing is our most important navigational query, for example.
Informational queries happen when a user is looking to expand their knowledge about a given topic. Most searches are informational queries, but they don’t play equal roles in an SEO keyword strategy. The best informational queries to target as a business are question-based. Here are the question words to think of when brainstorming the questions you think your target customer is typing into search engines:
Finally, transactional queries signal an intent to purchase. This type of query contains words like order, purchase, and buy. Local searches with city and town names are also considered transactional.
Having an SEO keyword strategy allows you to create content that targets all three types of search queries. Creating a keyword strategy starts with keyword research.
How to Do Keyword Research
When conducting keyword research, you start with 5 to 10 broad topics related to your business. Many SEO experts refer to these topics as keyword buckets. Brainstorm your buckets and write them down. We’ll use a digital marketing agency as an example. A digital marketing company would have the following buckets:
- Search engine marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Social media marketing
- Personal reputation management
- Email marketing
- Website development
These topic buckets are “head” keywords, which means they are between one and three words long. Head keywords are not your primary keywords, as they have the highest competition. Your primary keywords will be long-tail keywords, which are more than three words long. Long-tail keywords have less search volume, but they also have less competition and draw more targeted traffic than head keywords. The next step in creating your SEO strategy is to make a list of 5 to 10 long-tail keywords for each of your topic buckets. We’ll do search engine optimization as an example.
- What is search engine optimization?
- Why is search engine optimization important?
- How do I create an SEO strategy?
- What role do keywords play in an internet marketing strategy?
- How does an SEO keyword strategy help my business?
- What is the difference between on-page SEO and off-page SEO?
Notice how all of these long-tail keywords are questions. The number of question-based queries keeps rising each year, and will only continue to rise as voice search becomes more popular. Think about the questions your target customer would want answered for each of your topic buckets and write them down. You can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner, or a number of other keyword research tools, to help you find long-tail keywords.
Google’s keyword planner is also used in the next step of creating your SEO keyword strategy, which is analyzing the monthly search volume and level of competition for each keyword. In addition, use a tool like SEMRush to see which keywords your competitors are ranking for. Use this data to narrow your list down to between one and three keywords per topic bucket.
Once you have a list of between 10 and 15 primary keywords, you are ready to put your SEO keyword strategy into action.
Putting Your SEO Keyword Strategy into Action
An SEO keyword strategy is only as effective as its execution. Google constantly updates their algorithm to put more emphasis on content quality as a ranking factor. Even if you follow most of the other on-page and off-page SEO best practices, your content will not rank if you write for search engines instead of your users.
Each piece of content you create needs to serve an explicit purpose to the reader. It is why question-based long-tail keywords are great for blog posts. The question or questions the content answers are labeled clearly in the heading and subheadings. Use your keyword list to build your editorial calendar.
Your service and sales pages will target the broader keywords in your bucket, as well as some long-tail keywords designed to target transactional queries. This content needs to provide the reader with enough information about your product or service to make them feel comfortable making a purchase.
The secret to successfully implementing your SEO keyword strategy is consistency. Rank improvements don’t happen overnight. The level of technical expertise and writing ability it takes to get on, and stay on, the first page of Google is overwhelming. Consider outsourcing your SEO efforts to an agency so you can focus on aspects of your business you know best. Check out our process to learn more about what we can do to help your business thrive.