You don’t need a bunch of paid fancy tools to do basic keyword research for your website or blog. Google Trends is a great introductory keyword research tool for any business owner that is producing and posting their own content.
When you’re creating a blog post, you want to make sure the terms you are using match the terms that people are searching for. Since sometimes you can present yourself using a number of different terms, it’s a good idea to use a keyword research tool. For example, when we became HubSpot certified partners, we thought about changing the wording on our home page from “Digital Marketing Agency” to “Inbound Marketing Agency.”
Within Google trends, we went to the Explore Tool. Here is what we found:
While the Explore Tool doesn’t give us hard number as to how many people searched for these terms, it can push us in one way or the other when we can’t decide which term to use. In this case, the clear winner is “digital marketing agency,” so we kept our main page titles as they were.
The “inbound marketing agency” traffic is growing and it’s not a term we will ignore, we just will focus on it with our blog content rather than the home page of our website.
The tool also points out major news headlines that could have contributed to a rise in traffic for that term. Other interesting features are how much regional interest there are in those terms and what some related search terms are.
Google trends can also just be used if you’re curious about what people are searching for. It gives real time information about the top searches. It’s pretty easy to get lost down the rabbit hole when using this tool, so be careful of that if you’re on work time.
Just like everything on the web, SEO is changing. What used to be reserved for developers and programmers is now the job of a great content writer and a content management system.
What’s the difference between one time SEO and ongoing SEO?
SEO done one time is usually done at the launch of a website. Using keyword research, you can find out which keywords you’d like to rank for and make sure each page of your site is optimized appropriately.
Depending on your market at the keywords you want to be found for, it can be effective to let a site simmer for a few months after these initial SEO efforts. However, in most cases, you’ll need to hit the ground running and start with some ongoing SEO.
In the past, ongoing SEO has been more technical. It also used to be what we now consider spammy. Your webmaster would keep up with Google algorithm updates, and build links. The more links you had pointing to your website, the better your site would rank. SEOs would list their sites on directories and link lists wherever they could find them. Some would even build complex networks of websites, all linking to each other to try to outsmart Google.
Create Great Content
Now, the way to practice ongoing SEO is through creating great content. It’s done by knowing your customers, knowing their problems, and offering up solutions on your site. The more great content you have, the more potential search terms you can be found for.
The more focused your content is, the better chance you have of ranking. Nowadays, a common human behavior is to ask Google anything and everything. So, if you get to know your audience, and understand their problems, you have a starting point to figure out what they’re searching for.
The Technical Side
There is still a technical side to ongoing SEO. You want to make sure you are using all the best SEO practices when you publish your content. You start with the key phrase you want to be found for, and place it in the URL, title, content and alt tags. Then, you want to monitor its performance. By taking a look at your traffic you can decide if you need to update a post.
Other forms of ongoing SEO involve taking an audit of your site. We use a tool called Raven here at Schall. Their site auditor tool crawls our sites once a month and comes back with all the things we can do to improve their performance. Moz also has a great blog post with instructions to perform your own site audit.
When writing content for your website or blog, your first step is to think about your user and what they might be searching for. What are their challenges, and how can you help them? It’s a good idea to do some keyword research to ensure the term your optimizing the page for matches up with the term people are searching.
If you don’t have the time or resources to conduct thorough keyword research, try just using google itself.
Based on the search data in your area, Google give you options to auto fill your search query. It also takes into account what you’ve searched for in the past, so it’s best to use this tactic in a private browser.
Here’s what it will look like:
If you’re unsure of how people are searching for your service, just type a few of the key words into the search bar and take a note of what comes up.
To take it a step further, try Google trends. The explore tool lets you see the trends over time for any keywords. It also shows you the regional interest, and even compares them to other similar terms. Of course, neither of these tools give you real numbers of how many people searched for these terms, but it can help point you to the right direction in your keyword strategy.
Here’s an example:
If you’re looking for a more in depth way to plan your keyword strategy, I recommend taking a look at the resources on moz.com, especially their beginner’s guide to SEO. You can find the chapter on keyword research here.
You can’t trick a search engine, so don’t even try. The days of over-stuffing keywords, and cloaking to get found online are long gone. If you’re serious about getting relevant organic search engine traffic, you need proper on-page SEO tactics in place.
On-page SEO tactics consist of placing your most important keywords within the content elements of your actual pages. These on-page elements include Headlines, Sub-headlines, Body Content, Image Tags, and Links. Often times on-page SEO is referred to as “keyword density.” While it’s important to include your keyword as many times as necessary within a page, you don’t want to go overboard with it either. For on-page SEO tactics done right:
Pick a keyword
Pick a primary keyword for each page and focus on optimizing that page for that word. If you oversaturate a page with too many keywords on one page, the page will lose its importance and authority because search engines won’t have a clear idea of what the page is about. This is very common on homepages in particular, where too many keywords are used.
Place it wisely
Place your primary keywords in your headline and sub-headline. These areas of content have greater weight to search engines. The closer your keyword is to the beginning of the post, the better. A good SEO tactic to use if you’re trying to rank for a question someone may ask is to repeat a form of that question in your headline or h2. Just be sure you don’t seem too redundant.
Keep it relevant
Include the keywords in the body content but don’t use them out of context. Make sure they are relevant with the rest of your content. If your keyword doesn’t match your content, users will get frustrated quickly and hit the back button. That’s not good for rankings, and it’s not good for business.
Remember the images
Include keywords in the file name of images (e.g. mykeyword.jpg) or use them in the ALT tag. This will help on a regular SERP (Search Engine Results Page), and also in the case that someone searches for your keyword via Google images.
Keep it clean (the URL that is)
Include the keywords in the page URL and keep the URL clean. Keeping your URLs clean will make them easier to share, but more importantly it will help with organizing your analytics. We don’t want to see a URL that is as long as the blog post. It should be descriptive and clean enough that you can recall which blog it is.
Write for humans
Write for humans first, search engines second. Humans can recognize copy that was written for a robot, but a robot doesn’t know if that content was written for a human (ha, those silly robots). Always prepare your content for your audience and then look to optimize it for search. Content that is pleasant to read will keep your users on the page longer, another factor that helps with your SEO.
Just like you can’t trick a search engine, you can’t trick your users either. So make sure you’re thinking about them first. Your content should match up with what they’ve searched for. Don’t optimize a page for a keyword that has nothing to do with what you’re offering just because you think it’s being searched for more often.