There are five things that should be part of your SEO strategy. Any business with any number of employees can pull off maintaining these five things. If you don't, your search engine rank will not improve. They are:
- An SEO keyword list
- SEO website pages
- Consumable content, like a blog
- Long-form content, like a pillar
- A linking strategy
None of this is too difficult or complex for anyone to learn. And, learn it you must. Unless you are a cybercriminal who intends to trick the Google Bots, this is the game. In this five-part series, I'll lay out what the rules are and show you how to play.
Here's my disclaimer: you won't always win and you can't cheat. There are things like PPC ads that drive traffic: that's not what we're talking about here. Comparing SEO to any other lead gen strategy is like comparing a sequoia to a dandelion. Different species, different growth rate. You don't play SEO to win: you play it to grow. And, if you play it right, this investment will last a lifetime.
What Are SEO Keywords?
Let's dive in. We have to start at the beginning. A common misunderstanding of the entire SEO world can be found in ideas like "where does your website rank?" If a client comes and asks me that question, I launch into what I'm sure is a very annoying rant about that not being the right question.
(What's that movie? Based on Isaac Asimov? I, Robot. "That is the right question." Asimov called everything in modern robotics, in my very uneducated opinion, and I love his books.)
Ok, rant over. SEO is about content. That's the point. The aspects of your website that rank in relation to content are not set globally. In other words, what you rank for is not the site itself... but the content on it. And that content is what you can control.
So, let's say you have created a medical wait time app. This IT healthcare device lets people know how long their wait will be at any doctor's office or hospital. Cool. (It's called DocClocker and it's awesome).
Anyway, it's not worthwhile for you to go to Google and see "how your website ranks." First off, because you're literally competing with websites like Google that gets millions of hits a day. Frankly, no start-up needs to see that they're 600,000th in line for traffic.
Here's what you do need to see - and what is helpful. You need to know what keywords you are organically ranking for. In other words, what is your ideal customer typing in that search engine box to find that gets them to you? This is where a keyword list comes in.
Create a Keyword Strategy
A keyword list is the foundation of your strategy. It is how you will measure success in terms of SEO. You will decide which keywords you want to rank for and then create content that includes those keywords. Here's a basic outline of the actionable steps to take to create a keyword strategy:
ONE: Define your customer persona
Seem unrelated? Here's why it isn't: as you define your customer persona, you drill down into things like education level and race. There are 15 million new searches on Google a day. This means that you need to get CRYSTAL CLEAR about the kind of searches your target customer is going to make. This gets down into nuances like *vocabulary,* which is directly impacted by education level. Are they going to search for: "find an app for medical office wait times" OR "how long ER near me"? Big difference. Big deal. Who's searching affects what they search for.
TWO: Study your competitors
No need to reinvent the wheel here. Other people doing similar business are setting a standard in the marketplace for website copy. In other words, if you want to beat out a similar app, you need to compete for the same search criteria. Run audits on all of your competitor websites. This will give you massive insight into what kind of keywords and phrases you need to use on your own site.
THREE: Prioritize the list
If you do these first two steps, you will probably end up with a list of thousands of keywords and variations. You need to keep in mind that keywords and phrases are distinct. That means that "medical app" and "medical apps" are two different key phrases. You can see how this gets overwhelming.
That's where SERP comes in: Search Engine Results Page. You can run SERP analyses that provide some insight into keywords and phrases you're interested in using. This analysis will tell you:
- How difficult a keyword is to rank for
- The volume of a specific keyword or phrase
- The authority score
SEO Keyword Tools
There are a bunch of free tools you can use to analyze keywords. You may want to hire a freelancer to do this for you because it's annoyingly time-consuming. At the very least, check these out and get an idea of what you're looking for/at:
Want screenshots and a step-by-step instruction on how to do this research? Click here for a nerdtastic take on the process.
FOUR: Make the content
You may already have a website or be starting out fresh. Either way, you need to incorporate these keywords into your content. In the next blog, I'll talk more about writing the actual copy. There are strategies to where you place these all-important keywords, how often you can use them and where (besides the body of text) they should show up.
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