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You may have heard keywords are an essential part of any SEO strategy: they are. Without the right keywords on your site, people won’t find you while searching the web.
But there’s a lot more to keyword strategy than figuring out what people are searching for. It means choosing the right keywords for your business, determining which ones you’ll be able to rank for, and a whole lot more.
If you’re an SEO newbie, understanding keyword strategy can be overwhelming. But in this ultimate guide to keywords, I’ll give you all the info you need to get started.
Keywords are what people type into a search engine when they’re looking for something online. The term “keyword” is kind of misleading because a keyword doesn’t have to be just one word. For example, if I’m looking for a new Chinese restaurant to try out, I might type in:
Each of those phrases is a keyword. Of course, if you own a Chinese restaurant, you might want to figure out how to get your website to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) when someone types those in. This is where a keyword strategy comes in.
Why is keyword strategy important? Well, think about the last time you wanted to make a purchase. If you had questions, you probably went online to research them. If you did, you’re not alone. Over half of consumers search for reviews and recommendations online before making purchases. When your website ranks highly in search engine results, you can reach traffic that may be ready to buy. With a really good keyword strategy, you could also reach people who haven’t even thought about your product or service.
With individuals worldwide spending nearly seven hours online every day, advertising through organic search is too good an opportunity to pass up. But if you’re going to advertise through SERPS, it’s important to try to rank as highly as possible. Why? Because people click on the first few results way more often.
Sistrix reports the first organic result in Google search has an average click-through rate (CTR) of almost 30%. The second result has a CTR of just 15.7%, and the third one only has 11%.
By the time you get to the tenth result on Google, only 2.5% of people click through. An excellent SEO strategy can help you move up in these rankings, which may result in higher CTR. A big part of that strategy should be choosing the right keywords for your website
When it comes to selecting the right keywords for a page, there are a few steps you should take. Below, you’ll find a plan to follow when optimizing your website:
Before doing any keyword research, you need to look at all the pages on your website. Put relevant keywords on most of the critical pages on the site. Later, I’ll talk about where you should insert the keywords on each page. Most websites have a similar structure: homepage, “About Us” page, contact page, etc.
If you have a large site, consider making a spreadsheet listing all the different pages so you can keep track of what you’ve improved. If your website has a blog, you shouldn’t write blog posts and optimize them for keywords later. Instead, do it the other way around: use keyword research tools to give you ideas for new blog post topics. But if you already have blog posts on your site that aren’t keyword optimized, you can and should go back to optimize them.
The next step is to choose a keyword research tool. Keyword research tools give you useful data to help you choose the best keywords.
In the next section of this article, I’ll talk more about some of the keyword research tools out there. For now, I’ll give you some examples using my tool, Ubersuggest.
Brainstorm a few keywords that are relevant to your product or service. If you’re optimizing blog posts, think of some that are relevant to the topic of the post you’re looking at. Then, enter the keywords into your keyword tool, and choose the language and region you’re interested in.
Here’s what you’ll get after you hit the “Search” button:
Next, you need to interpret the data your keyword tool gives you. The “search volume” is the average number of searches per month for your keyword:
“SEO difficulty” and “paid difficulty” scores range from 0-100. Lower scores mean the keyword is easier to rank for, while higher ones mean it’s more difficult:
The average cost-per-click (CPC) is the amount you need to pay Google for each click if you want to run an ad in Google search. Keywords with higher CPC are usually more valuable.
The next section on Ubersuggest gives you some information about the webpages currently ranking in the top 10. You can see the number of backlinks they have and their domain scores.
In the following section, there’s detailed information about the keyword. You can see the search volume over time, the number of people clicking on organic and paid search results, and the searchers’ age ranges.
Next, you’ll find some ideas for other similar keywords.
In the last section, you can see some content pieces that are ranking for this keyword and being shared on social media. You can use this to get inspiration for your content.
Now that you’ve seen the metrics, you can get an idea of whether a keyword is good to use or not. Ideally, you’ll want to go for keywords with a combination of the following:
Think about your audience when looking for keywords, though. If a particular keyword doesn’t make sense (e.g., it’s misspelled, awkward, or irrelevant), you might not want to use it—even if the metrics look good.
You don’t want to lead people to your site if they aren’t interested in your product or service. This might lead to a higher bounce rate, meaning people clicking on your site and leaving right away. A high bounce rate is bad for business and may be bad for SEO as well.
We’ve already talked about how to use Ubersuggest, but there are lots of other keyword research tools. Here are a few of the best ones:
Google’s Keyword Planner gives you search volume and competition feedback for different keywords. It’s free to use, although you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to access it without creating a Google ad campaign, such as clicking “switch to expert.” Here’s what you get when you search for “SEO consulting:”
As you can see, you get some info about the search volume, the amount of competition, and what people are paying for the keyword on Google AdWords. Besides the Keyword Planner, you should also check out Google’s other free tools like Google Trends, Search Console, and Google Analytics when building your SEO strategy.
There are also paid keyword tools you can use, like Moz, SEMrush, and AHrefs. These tools are more expensive than Ubersuggest, but Moz offers a limited free version.
Both Moz and SEMRush have free trial periods. Here’s what Moz’s keyword tool, Keyword Explorer, looks like after you’ve typed in SEO tools:
Like Ubersuggest, Moz’s tool gives you a list of suggested keywords and currently ranking content. You also have a range for the monthly search volume, a “difficulty” score from 0-100, information on the organic click-through rate (how many people are clicking on the non-advertising results), and a “priority” score from 0-100.
The priority score is a combination of all the other metrics and is the most crucial score. A high priority score means you’re likely to be able to rank on this keyword.
Remember when I said we’d talk about where to put keywords on your webpages? Of course, you’ll want to add keywords to your website’s copy and blog posts, but there are some other places you should be putting them, too.
Before I dive into this section, I want to say there’s a difference between keyword optimization for organic traffic vs. paid ads.
“Organic traffic” is traffic that comes from regular Google search results—not ads. By adding keywords to your website, you’re helping it rank higher in organic search.
Choosing keywords for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a whole different ball game. For more information about using keywords in PPC campaigns, check out my posts “How to Launch a Successful PPC Campaign for the First Time” and “An Introduction to Pay-Per-Click Search Marketing.”
Of course, keywords should be throughout your content, including website copy and blog posts. But how often should you be using keywords in your content? When planning your blog content, you should choose one focus keyword for each blog post, along with a few complementary keywords.
Consider using a long-tail keyword—a longer, highly-specific keyword, like “what is SEO”—as your focus keyword. Long-tail keywords are often easier to rank on than single words are.
Use your focus keyword and complementary keywords in your content as often as possible—as long as the content makes sense and sounds good.
Long ago, “keyword stuffing” was the norm, with content creators shoving keywords into content repeatedly, making it sound spammy. That’s an outdated SEO tactic and may turn readers off—and upset Google to boot.
In addition to content, an important place to use keywords is in your image tags. By optimizing your images, you can drive traffic through image search as well as text search. Optimizing your images means adding keywords into the filename, image title, and ALT text (a tag people use to optimize their images for search engines and screen readers).
If you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, you can update the image title and ALT text directly in your website’s media editor. Make sure both your ALT text and title (title isn’t as important as the ALT) are descriptive and explain what the image is about:
A final place you should be using keywords is in your website’s title tags and meta descriptions.
The title tag and meta description show up in search results when people look for your website. They can also usually be edited in your website’s CMS.
Here’s what a title tag and meta description looks like. The blue link is the title tag, while the text is the meta description:
Once you’ve added keywords to your website, how can you tell if your SEO efforts are paying off?
You’ll want to track your performance on each of your target keywords to see how you’re doing and if you need to change anything.
SEO tools can help you do this. Ubersuggest gives you a lot of information about your website’s performance in the search engine results:
Here, you can see NeilPatel.com’s best-performing pages:
And here are some of the keywords I’m ranking on right now:
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to keywords. It’s not enough just to find the right keywords—you also have to know how to use them to rank. To succeed with a keyword strategy, you need to have an organized plan.
Part of this is having the right keyword research tools and knowing how to use them. But you also have to know your audience well and think strategically.
Using the tips in this article, you can get started with keyword research and hopefully boost your place in the search engine results. Good luck!
Did I miss any info about keywords? If you have some tips you’d like to share, let us know in the comments.
Is your company tapping into its local customers through B2B local SEO?
Although business-to-consumer (B2C) brands often leverage local marketing, business-to-business (B2B) ones tend to take a broader approach.
B2B brands without storefronts are even more likely to have their local marketing strategies slip through the cracks.
46% of all Google searches are local, so if you’re not targeting people in your area, you may be missing nearly half of your potential consumers.
Consumers regularly search online reviews and research businesses in which they’re interested. This trend continues to grow—a BrightLocal study showed 90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 33% looking every day.
Are you wondering how to attract local customers? The answer is deceptively simple: optimize your local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Let’s dive into critical areas and explore the best ways to enhance your B2B local SEO strategy.
B2B local SEO is about improving your online search visibility for nearby customers in your physical service area.
There are several ways in which local SEO varies from traditional SEO. Several ranking factors can move the needle in different ways.
Some of these include a searcher’s location, your Google My Business listing, online reviews, your website’s mobile optimization, and more.
Begin the process with a B2B local SEO audit. This will help you define which areas need enhancement.
When done right, local search engine optimization will help your website rank higher for specific, relevant searches.
When you rank higher, you become more visible to searchers. Higher visibility in local searches often leads to more sales, leads, conversions, and revenue.
Once your audit is complete, you can focus on tactics to take your B2B local SEO presence to the next level.
Start the process of optimizing your business for B2B local SEO by getting everything squared away with Google.
First, audit your Google My Business listing. There are several guidelines for representing your business on Google.
Most importantly, to get a Google My Business profile, your company must engage with customers—in person. This means you need a physical address, not a P.O. box or virtual office address. Businesses that travel to customers may also qualify.
Major categories include food establishments, attractions, professional services, personal services, entertainment, retailers, transportation, and more. If you provide any services to companies, your B2C is likely eligible for Google My Business.
The way you represent your business on Google should be consistent with how you showcase your business to the world.
Ensuring all the information on your Google My Business page is accurate is also critical to local SEO for B2B marketing.
When someone searches for your business, if your Google My Business is set up correctly, your listing appears in a box on the right side of Google’s search results.
It contains all the basics about your business, along with reviews. If you don’t fill out your address, phone number, website, and hours, local customers won’t find you as easily.
Then, there are the results that appear at the top of a Google search when someone searches for something more general, like “printing services in Las Vegas.”
Ahrefs refers to these as “snack pack” results.
The “snack pack” box displays the top local business listings most relevant to the search, along with a map showing where each is located.
Google’s customer reviews are also vital. They help increase transparency and establish trust in your brand. You can also gain a lot of insights into your customers’ perceptions through them.
Both positive and negative feedback can tell you a great deal about how your business is faring in the “real world.” Use these reviews to improve your business.
Creating content is a great way to optimize for B2B local SEO. You want people to find you quickly, and there are many ways to get your business on page one of Google fast.
Perhaps most importantly, you need to use specific keywords related to your industry, products, and area of expertise.
When people search for those terms, your website is more likely to show up if you included them.
Your homepage should clearly illustrate your business. Your “About” and “Contact Us” pages should also feature details your customers may want to know.
This goes for both front- and back-end content. Your title tags, header tags, and meta descriptions should also contain vital information about the business.
Conduct keyword research and determine which ones make the most sense for your business.
The keywords should be contextually relevant and make sense for the audience you’re targeting. In other words, quality matters over quantity.
Ensuring your keywords fit from a regional perspective is also important for b2b local SEO.
While using broad keywords may drive traffic, those visiting may not be the most suitable leads based on location.
This is where strategizing for local customers comes into play.
By integrating region-specific keywords—like city or landmark names—into your content, you’ll be better able to connect with the relevant audience in your area.
Think about how you can give value to this audience in particular. What might they, specifically, be searching for? Create content answering the questions they commonly ask.
Create such content in either written or video form—or a mix of both. Video content is becoming more expected by audiences.
Research by Valasys Media suggests visual storytelling may benefit B2B marketers because:
Take your region into consideration when creating your stories. How wide should you cast your net? Are you targeting a city or a whole state?
Additionally, research the most effective local base to target for the best ROI.
Link building is another pillar of local content marketing strategy. We touched upon link categories before, and they come into play with link building.
If possible, garner links back to your website and digital assets from a variety of local sources.
These may include local directories, industry-related sites, partner sites, chambers of commerce and other organizations, and newspapers’ sites.
A great way to have other sites link to you is to create and promote a useful resource. For example, say you’re a local medical clinic that provides flu shots to businesses, and flu season is approaching. You could create a guide about the best ways to avoid the flu at the office.
This type of guide is something from which anyone can learn, and it’d be beneficial for other sites to feature it.
Many chambers of commerce websites also have areas where local businesses can promote offers.
For example, the Newport Chamber of Commerce has a specials page where various B2B brands like office space and printing services offer deals.
Mobile marketing is a critical aspect of B2B local SEO, as 50% of B2B search queries are from mobile devices.
Since people have their phones with them all the time, they’re able to search more proactively than in the past.
Search Engine Journal compiled some fascinating stats on mobile search trends related to local SEO. Did you know 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day? Or that 78% of local-based searches on a mobile device end in purchases made offline?
Keep these mobile trends in mind when boosting your local online presence. Make sure your website and landing pages are optimized for mobile devices.
Your digital strategy for B2B local SEO should also include social media, which is primarily accessed through mobile devices. Facebook and Instagram have local components that let you include instructions and allow customers to geo-tag your business when they post about it.
There are many ways people search for businesses on their smartphones. This is why having your Google My Business listing up to date is imperative.
Whether your customer is planning in advance or already on the way, you want to make sure to reach them wherever they are.
Why is b2b local SEO important? Because you have a greater potential of driving in-person traffic to your business when you target your local audience.
For a relatively low-cost, you can draw in people who are searching for your type of business.
Diversifying your online presence across various channels has further benefits as well. Many third-party websites and platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other similar directory-like sites are becoming more advanced.
They also have their own audiences, who wouldn’t find you as easily if those directories are their go-to search options.
In addition to maximizing your presence on Google and other websites, optimize your website for local search.
For example, if you’re a dog groomer in San Diego, integrate keywords like “dog groomer in San Diego” so you have specifically mentioned your location.
When people in your region are conducting local searches for “dog groomers near me,” you’ll rank for those, too—but only if Google knows where you’re located.
The key to ranking for “[your term] near me” is to start by Googling that specific phrase or your local-specific phrase that you want to rank for.
When you do that, you’ll be able to see all the localized sites from which Google is pulling. Make sure you’re listed there—if you’re not, you need to figure out why. Have you made your location clear?
If you live in Boston, for instance, there are many suburbs, landmarks, etc. On your website, list different nearby features like these. It could also be beneficial to include directions to your business from those specific places.
Ensure you also have a localized number and not just an 800 number, so people know you’re really there.
Furthermore, when people look for a specific service, they’ll often visit various touchpoints.
For instance, they may land on your website and then go to Yelp to read reviews. This is why having a listing there is essential.
After providing services, ask customers to leave reviews.
Local businesses can hugely benefit from strategic SEO plans.
Think about how many people use their mobile devices to search for local businesses.
There are many ways to get your business found online, from keyword optimization to link building tactics and local listings.
Which b2b local SEO tactics have been most fruitful for your B2B business?