Want More Website Visits? Take a Look at Your Keyword Strategy.
When it comes to finding information online, Google continues to lead as the dominant search engine. Internet users conduct over 3.5 billion Google searches every day. In fact, the ubiquity of Google has led to the addition of “google” as a verb in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
With so many people googling — including the people you want to attract to your website — understanding how Google finds and displays search results helps you make choices for your site that increase the likelihood that your pages are positioned prominently.
When your pages appear as top results, users are more likely to click through to your site. Once they’re on your site, you can continue to show them relevant information and encourage them to take additional actions. It all starts with your keyword strategy.
Why a Keyword Strategy Matters
Keywords tell Google what the pages of your website are about. As Google looks at keywords to understand your information, its algorithm assigns a rank according to relevancy — essentially, how well your information meets the needs of a search request.
The sophistication of Google’s algorithm continues to evolve, but one element remains constant. The more directly your content relates to a user’s request, the higher the results list your site’s pages will appear.
But equally important to Google’s ranking of your information is considering how your users search. You should not only identify keywords that Google recognizes, but also create content that best responds to the needs of your users. That combination is what drives traffic to your website. And more traffic equates to more conversion opportunities.
View Organic Search as an Acquisition Channel
Many tactics exist for acquiring leads or visitors to your website. Google Analytics data suggests that organic search is a large (if not the largest) acquisition channel for many companies. As you look at your own data, it isn’t uncommon to see up to 70% of your traffic from organic searches.
In our experience reviewing data with clients, we also see that people arriving at websites through organic search are typically more engaged. They spend more time on the site. They view more pages on average. And they usually account for the highest percentage of conversions.
All this combined validates the power of organic search as an acquisition channel — and underscores the need to pay attention to your keyword strategy. Knowing what works for your business will directly impact the number of people you can attract to your website.
It’s Never Too Late to Implement a Keyword Strategy
You’ll derive the most benefit from your keyword strategy when it’s established during the development phase of your website. That’s because keywords create a roadmap for both your information architecture and your content. But if your website is already live, don’t let that stop you. It’s never too late to look for opportunities to refine your keyword approach.
Keywords and how you optimize your website for those keywords are platform agnostic. Regardless of which CMS your site uses, the basic steps to research, build, and optimize your strategy remain the same.
Use Research to Develop and Refine Your Keyword List
Basic research can validate that your current keywords are the strongest ones for your business. It can also help you establish additional keywords that will increase organic traffic to your website.
By taking a closer look at what’s working — and how users are currently finding your website content — you can make strategic decisions about which keywords to keep and which ones to add. The outputs of the three activities described below can help you establish or refine a list of keywords that are relevant to your organization, Google, and your users.
- Use Google Search Console to review the top search terms for your website. This helps you understand terms users are already searching with. It will also provide indicators about the pieces of content on your site that Google considers high value.
- Identify the important pages on your site you want Google to rank. Think about the destinations where you’d most like visitors to land — pages with the most relevant information or most significant conversion opportunities. Then review the pages to determine whether the content is relevant and contains keywords people are already searching for.
- Conduct some simple competitive analysis. Do your own search for terms you would like to claim as your keywords. Then evaluate the content on the pages returned at the top of those search results. Consider how you can use what you learn to optimize the content on your own pages.
Keep in mind that the most impactful keywords can (and many times should) include more than one word. Nearly one in every four Google searches contains two words. So think about the topics that your website addresses as multiple words. Relevant key phrases (rather than single words) lets you string together ideas and information unique to your organization — and in a way that helps your content stand out.
Work Keywords Into Your Website Content Strategically
Once you’ve established your keyword list, it’s a good time to look closer at your content — especially on priority pages — to ensure keywords appear in the appropriate places. Strategically integrate keywords into your content. This makes it easier for Google to understand the topics your content covers and return your site’s pages in search results.
In the backend of your CMS, use your keywords in page titles and meta descriptions. Then, on each page, incorporate keywords into your H1 headings and the body of your content.
One important note: When you incorporate keywords into your copy, be natural. Think about how you would speak to someone about the topic and align the frequency of keyword references to that.
For example, an average webpage includes 200-250 words of copy. That’s about the length of this section. If you were sharing this amount of words in a conversation, it’s unlikely that you would mention your keywords more than once or twice. Any more than that and it sounds forced. The same is true for the words on your page.
In fact, keyword stuffing – the practice of intentionally repeating keywords within a short block of copy — can actually be detrimental to your search results. Keep your content (and your keywords) focused on your reader and the rankings will follow.
Approach Keywords and Content with a User-Centric Mindset
Your keyword strategy will be most effective when you create it with your user in mind, not just Google. Think about how people search for information and, specifically, how your target audience will look for you. Then deliver content related to your keywords in a way that is relevant to your users.
Remember, the goal of your keywords and the resulting content should always be to address the pain points, needs, or questions of your target audience. This way, you can deliver the most impactful user experience and drive the most traffic to your website.