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Keyword Methodology: How to Jumpstart Your SEO Strategy

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Marketers already know the importance of SEO, but building a comprehensive program can be overwhelming and difficult.

With so many businesses jumping into the online space, it might seem futile to dedicate time, money, and resources trying to get on the first page of Google.

If the thought of SEO makes your head hurt, here's a tried and tested step-by-step guide on how to create and execute a killer SEO keyword strategy.

Methodology to Find New Keywords

Using Google's Keyword Tool, you can experiment with finding keywords in two ways:

  1. Keywords that are relevant to your product offering or service
  2. Keywords used to find direct and indirect competitors of yours

Satisfying No. 1 is based on using a combination of logic, intuition, and looking at existing keyword data from AdWords and Google Analytics. Try thinking "if I were a potential customer who had no knowledge about my company, what would I type into Google search to find the product I'm looking for?"

For example, one possibility for a marketing firm is "content marketing," so you would input that term into the Keywords Tool to analyze its search volume and relevancy to your product offering.

The ideal scenario is to find relevant keywords that have high monthly search volumes and low competition.

You can also narrow down your keyword search based on criteria such as location, type of device, and language to ensure that your keywords relate to your business and target audience.

As the example above illustrates, the keyword "content marketing" yields 60,500 Global Monthly Searches and is a high competitive keyword.

Once you determine whether your keyword yields a reasonable volume of Global Monthly Searches, proceed to search the keyword in Google to see how relevant the search results are to your company and product offering.

At this stage, simply make a long list of all the relevant keywords that had an adequate search volume.

Repeat this process several times by thinking of keywords that potential customers might use to search for your product.

Another great way of finding relevant keywords is to investigate the Keyword Ideas that are generated by the Google Keyword Tool.

Go through the Keyword Ideas; when you are satisfied with the Global Monthly Search volume, you should then check the relevancy and record the appropriate ones on your master list.

To determine the keywords for No. 2 (keywords that people use to search for and find your competitors), you should search the website source codes of major competitors to see what keywords are listed, and search competitors using the Keywords Tool.

This type of search reveals the keywords people are typing into Google that leads them to find a competitor. You can also type in your own URL to see what keywords people are using to reach your company (notice the subtle difference: in No. 1 you are trying to find relevant keywords that are related to your product but not necessarily ones that you or your competitors are currently listed under. Here, you're finding the keywords that directly lead individuals to competitors or your company).

Determining Your Target Keywords

Once you feel satisfied with your master list, go through it and narrow it down. Choose keywords with the best search volume, relevancy to your product and branding, and minimal competitiveness; also ensure that you don't choose keywords that are too similar to each other.

The Process of Placing Specific Keywords on Website Pages

When your keyword list is finalized, the next step is to place the new keywords into your website pages.

Create an Excel document where you can track which keywords you want to place on each page. Ensure that the top ranking keywords are placed on the most visited pages (as determined by Google Analytics) or on pages that will drive conversions; this is the most logical way to drive up your SEO. You should also make sure that the keywords are logically matched with the website page.

Once this process is complete, go through and reword your website pages to include the new keywords—without making the keywords sound forced. The optimum keyword density is about 1% to 3%; more than that could be considered excessive. Some sentences will need to be rewritten, and some difficult keywords will need creative sentence solutions. For example, if your current sentence reads "turn your blog into an effective medium for lead generation," you should rework the sentence into something like this: "By implementing content marketing strategies, your blog can be an effective medium for lead generation."

The keywords also need to stay in their original form and can't be split up, otherwise the SEO impact will be impaired. For example, "content marketing" is not recognized and indexed by Google the same way as "marketing content," "content marketing services," or any other iteration.

Keywords should be included not only in the main text of your website but also in the metadata: specifically, the title, description, and keyword tags.

* * *

Remember that this process isn't a one-time solution: You need to audit your keywords every few months to ensure that the ones you're targeting haven't changed. In addition, complete your keyword strategy by adding them to your blog pieces (when applicable) and developing a link-building strategy. According to WCC Voice, pages with strong backlinks pointing to them are considered authoritative pages by search engines. Your Page Rank is in part determined by the number and quality of links to your site, so having a strong link building strategy will help increase the popularity of your links and your Google Page Rank.

If you're looking for a comprehensive guide to SEO, check out this great resource by SEOMoz. Also, check out this piece if you're interested in a general overview of SEO.

Do you have any more keyword best-practices? Leave a comment!

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Aaliyah Madadi is part of the marketing team at Uberflip, a digital publishing company, where she specializes in B2B content marketing. She recently published two whitepapers: "The Limitations of PDFs for Marketers" and "HTML5: What Marketers Need to Know." Aaliyah manages social media for Uberflip, so follow her on Twitter (@Uberflip) and Facebook (Uberflip).

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  • by Randy Milanovic Tue Jun 11, 2013 via iphone

    All these tools and techniques are fine, but take a moment and ask yourself, what is THE most overlooked method of finding keywords? A: OBSERVE YOUR CUSTOMER. What words/phrases/language do they use when searching out your products or services? It's so easy to use tools. How about trying communication?

  • by grace Tue Jun 11, 2013 via web

    Very good article! Thank you. You simplified a process that others over-complicate.

  • by Mike Camplin Tue Jun 11, 2013 via web

    Nice summary. I agree with Randy that observing and surveying customers on the language they use is the best source of keywords. Your ideas help supplement and find keywords being used by competitor's customers and prospects-- a great source to expand your lead pool.

  • by sloganmedia Tue Jun 11, 2013 via web

    Very interesting article. How many of you find it easy to get instant results through organic search? Through paid adwords?

  • by Gracious store Wed Jun 12, 2013 via web

    Google keyword tools is a good tool to search for keywords and keyword pharses

  • by John Thu Jun 13, 2013 via mobile

    Good article-thanks! Two thoughts to consider regarding meta keywords: no longer is their any SEO value, and secondly, avoid using, as you are only letting your competition know the words you are targeting. Let them do the homework.

  • by Randy Milanovic Thu Jun 13, 2013 via iphone

    THX Mike. John, keywords still have tremendous value - just not of the old "stuff your page with them" kind. (Which, for the record, I never did anyway.) Marketers still need to have a core strategy, which is based on keywords / long tail keyword phrases / topics, which are in turn based on the business's service/products. I talk a about this in my ebook, Findability: Why Search Engine Optimization is Dying + the 21 New Rules of Content Marketing. I'll let you all know the next time I list it for free a day on Amazon. If you can't wait, it's an easy read and only $2.99.

  • by scarlett Wed Jul 3, 2013 via web

    Great simple step by step SEO keyword strategy.

  • by Mohammed Sat Jul 6, 2013 via web

    Interesting article. thank you.

  • by Jamila Blue Tue Jul 16, 2013 via web

    So, how would internet marketers leverage their online marketing strategy in an environment wherein consumers choose to find their preferred brands on the web? Seth Godin coined the word “Permission Marketing”. In simpler terms this means turning “permission” into “attention”, then attention to learning, and finally, learning to trust.

  • by Jim Sat Aug 3, 2013 via web

    Although Google Keyword Tool is good, but it tends to show innacurate data sometimes. It is best to check how many competitors are advertising for a specific keyword which helps you identify important keywords.

  • by Rich (aka DisplacedGuy) Sun Oct 27, 2013 via web

    Hi, thank you for the SEO strategy ideas. I particularly liked the idea of putting my keywords into an excel spreadsheet and modifying top pages so that they contain between one and three percent concentration. This is the first article I've found that went into detail regarding the keyword density. I have been blogging for cash for about three years now and still learning new things, my top website has a typical RPM around $12.00 which I am pretty proud of, my first site which I am also proud for other reasons (not profit) is a low $1.20 RPM if I could only get that heavy traffic to my high-RPM sites I'd have things figured out.
    Rich (aka

  • by dstrand Tue Nov 12, 2013 via web

    As a sanity check given all the Google search changes and human behavior analysis out there, marketing profs might want to check in on this post re; your obsession with keywords

  • by Ray Sat Feb 28, 2015 via web

    Aaliyah, thank you for your post. If I wanted to discover the most important keywords of an entire site, would a reasonably accurate method be to use Google Keyword Planner, enter the site’s URL for keyword ideas, download the list of suggested groups & keywords, & copy the 800 or so keywords into Wordle for a word cloud?

    Separately but on a similar topic, I’d love to find an Excel Array Formula to review a large number of anchor links or keywords then list most to least used word frequency & count, to discover important keywords of a site.

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