By Amine Rahal, entrepreneur and Professional SEO writer.
Amine is the CEO of IronMonk, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO & CMO at Regal Assets, an IRA company.
There used to be a time when you could install a free Chrome browser plug-in, scrape all the competitive keywords you need, throw them into an article a couple of dozen times and then immediately rank for high-volume search terms after hitting “publish” on your WordPress site.
Google has gone to great lengths to improve the internet user experience over the past couple of decades.
If you want to create rankable content these days, you need to provide exceptional value for your reader.
Finding the right keywords, and using them strategically, is an essential step in today’s search engine optimization (SEO) process.
As the owner of two full-service digital marketing agencies, SEO has been my bread and butter for the better part of two decades.
Here are my top five keyword research strategies to help you start ranking sooner:
Although there used to be serviceable freeware available for SEO keyword research, as far as I’m aware, there aren’t any left that are competitive with the paid services.
Virtually every SEO specialist I know uses at least one of the following super useful Platforms & Tools:
• Moz Explorer
• Best Keywords Tools (full Article Here)
Do your homework to find which one best suits your goals and budget.
I’ve used all of these tools at one point or another.
I can honestly say they all do just about the same thing with the same degree of accuracy and depth:
finding search Keywords & content ideas based on what people mostly search on Google.
Typically, all of them offer free Plan or a Free Trial Version.
So, you can try them without any risk, and if you like it, you can choose the best one for your business.
Your next step is the Google Search Console (GSC), which is every SEO’s best friend.
GSC provides a ton of free value by informing you about:
• What pages are currently ranking for specific search Keywords.
• Search terms driving the most website visits.
• Which devices are being used to visit your website.
• Advanced SEO metrics like click-through rates and average search engine results page (SERP) positions.
The goal here is to find the near-misses that your website currently has (if any) and build from there.
If your website is already succeeding in a particular content topic (e.G., you’re ranking 25th for “best Italian recipes”), you’ll have a starting point for building supplementary content.
This is called a “seed keyword,” which can be extended later.
Once you’ve identified a shortlist of seed keywords (i.E., five to10 seeds), you can use your keyword research tool to plug in your seeds.
From there, the tool will generate a list of search terms ranked by their volume and keyword difficulty (KD).
If you’re still just starting out in the SEO game (i.E., your website has a Domain Authority score under 40), edit your search options to filter out results with a KD above 50.
Anything above that mark will require hundreds of backlinks to rank in the top 10, so you’re better off focusing on less competitive search terms for the time being.
Using the example from earlier, “best Italian recipes” gives us the following content ideas based on our seed keyword when plugged into a keyword search tool:
• Best Italian beef recipes (34 KD, 350 Vol.).
• Best Italian bread recipes (41 KD, 250 Vol.).
• Best Italian chicken recipes (24 KD, 150 Vol.).
• Best Italian pasta recipes (30 KD, 150 Vol.).
You’ll notice that keywords with higher volume tend to have higher KD scores.
Your goal is to try to strike a balance between managing difficulty (i.E., keeping KD below 50) while also not wasting your time on keywords nobody searches for (i.E., volume below 100).
For every seed keyword, you should be able to draw out at least 10 long-tail keywords.
Your website should be neatly organized with links that help readers navigate to other useful, relevant content.
Remember that Google’s main mission is to improve the user experience (UX) of the internet.
If your website easily allows visitors to find other content you’ve published that can provide value for them, Google will reward you for the effort.
That’s why I also include a minimum of four or five internal links in my published blog posts to other relevant pages on my site.
This way, there’s sufficient cross-promotion between my pages and readers can maximize the value they get from my content.
In this case, your “best Italian recipes” blog article should be peppered with internal links to your “best Italian beef recipes” and “best Italian bread recipes” articles.
This often requires you to go back in and edit old articles to add new links as they’re made available.
My final piece of advice is to use the Google Suggest tool to find other content ideas that can be used as keywords for stand-alone articles, or to use as seed keywords that you plug into your SEO research tool.
Start by searching a relevant query into Google and scrolling to the bottom of the results page.
There you’ll find a list of related topics and questions that can be used as seed keywords.
Nearer to the top there is also often a “People also search for” box that contains long-tail search terms that can also be used as keywords.
Crafting Creative Keywords: The Key To SEO Success
The success of an SEO strategy truly hinges on the keywords selected.
So, choose them wisely. I strongly recommend trying out a reputable keyword research tool to generate long-tail keywords from seed keywords, and then using Google Suggest to find other content ideas based on what’s already worked for you.
From there, you can rinse and repeat by plugging in new content ideas into your research tool as your content output develops.
Seeing your business or personal website rank in Google’s top 10 search results is such a big accomplishment.
Now, you’re able to reach your target audience on a much larger scale with your content.
However, if this is still something you’re working on achieving, don’t worry, we have the best tips for you.
If you’re not on the first page, your website has a 75% chance of not being seen by the person making the search.
Unless they’re doing very intensive research, the chances of readers landing on your page is very slim.
That is why you need to learn about the best SEO practices now so you can apply them to your content strategy.
Once you know how to rank higher on Google search, you will be able to create better content that will give value to your audience.
If you’re just starting, choosing the right platform is crucial in ensuring success for your business or website.
A content management system enables you to create a website even if don’t know how to code.
Without it, you’ll have a hard time getting started unless you know how programming works.
Luckily, HubSpot, WordPress and others offers a CMS Hub with multiple customizable options already integrated.
You can now easily design your website the way you want it.
It also enables you to optimize your website even without the help of a developer.
With WordPress or HubSpot, you can easily manage your content, ensure security and maximize the potential reach of your brand.
Even companies like Apple or Amazon still invest an SEO marketing strategy to make their websites rank.
Want to know these business giants’ secret to success? SEO PowerSuite.
They only invest in the best SEO tools which can be found in this all-in-one suite.
A collection of tools that can help you perform on-page optimization, track performance and analyze competition, this is your ultimate weapon in ranking higher than your competitors.
Modern SEO tools Photo: https://www.Sps-software.Net/
So, why do you need SEO tools? It saves you from manually executing tedious SEO tasks. This means less data collection and analysis. You also get to focus on other things like improving your performance with the provided actionable insights. Be among the best-performing companies like Disney, IBM, Nestle, Audi and Microsoft when you choose SEO PowerSuite.
The easiest way to grow brand awareness is by establishing an online presence.
Setting up profiles on all major social media platforms will increase your visibility.
Once you have these accounts, make sure they are active to maintain user engagement.
Add these links to your website, other social networks, email marketing campaigns, etc.
Reach local search success Photo: brightlocal.Com
BrightLocal is great at reputation management.
With more reviews and better rankings, more conversions will soon follow.
It assists in auditing your entire online presence by giving you insights on where to improve.
Save time trying to manually collect data and easily view your stats on an automated dashboard that you can also customize.
When users input search queries, they have specific things they want to find.
This is user intent or search intent.
When you create your content, make sure it actually answers their questions or provides the information they need.
Your content must have a purpose. It may be informational, navigational, commercial or transactional.
Google needs to know what your content is about and to rank higher on search results, your content has to be user intent specific.
For example, if you want to rank for search queries like “best skincare products” then your content must have a list of different skincare products.
They clearly want options, so you give them options.
Wondering how different image formats can affect your website performance?
Imagine going to a website and it takes forever to load, would you wait patiently?
Or will you look for similar websites with faster loading times?
Site speed is a crucial ranking signal. More often than not, images are the culprits to laggy sites.
JPEG is great for images of food and other items.
This is because JPEG has a smaller file size.
However, for images with heavy texts or thin line drawings, PNG is the better option. Another good option is WebP.
These are 26% smaller than PNGs and 25-34% smaller than JPEG images.
Once you’ve published a post, it’s easy to just forget about it and proceed to create new ones.
However, your old posts will die when they’re no longer relevant.
This also means that even if you put your best effort into making them rank high when you initially created them, they will eventually plummet and be no longer visible.
The key is to track these posts and update them to keep them fresh.
This may include updating markers like dates to keep them relevant.
Users’ attention span is steadily declining.
To keep them engaged, you should add a few videos in strategic parts of your website.
Not only does this help lazy readers find what they are looking for, but it also keeps users on your page.
The longer they stay on your site, the better.
This tells search engines that your page is engaging.
We bet you haven’t heard this one! More and more users are using voice commands to search.
Research suggests that voice search results load 52% faster than an average page.
To optimize your site for voice search, optimizing your keywords is important.
How can you do that?
When you use voice commands, chances are you ask questions in full sentences instead of using plain keywords like you would when typing.
The key is to integrate your keywords in casual sentences that people would most likely use when making their voice queries.
Strengthen your link-building strategy Photo: appsumo.Com
Backlinks are still one of the top key ranking signals.
These are links included by other websites that redirect users to your page.
It may be hard to gather backlinks when you’re new.
The Link Chest by SEO Buddy helps new websites gain these votes of confidence effortlessly.
This is undoubtedly the easiest way to refine your link-building strategy.
Hire a an expert! Photo: growtal.Com
You can’t do everything by yourself.
The best option is to seek help from experts and professionals.
GrowTal connects you to the best marketing experts for your specific needs.
They do this by making you answer a 2-minute questionnaire, matching you with a marketer that suits your company’s profile and business goals.
As any small business owner knows, your website is one of the most vital components of your business.
Whether you’re in e-commerce or not, it’s the first place potential customers will go to discover and decide if they want to do business with you.
Luckily, building an engaging, inspirational, and profitable website doesn’t have to be a complicated process.
Here’s a list of ten ways to take your small business site from average to one of the best websites in your industry.
“Start by really identifying who your customers are and why they would use your site,” says Tish Gance, who helps small businesses improve their online presence.
That helps you drill down to the purpose of your site: the reason it exists in the first place.
Are customers meeting you in-person first, then validating your business online?
Or, are they discovering you exclusively through Google as they search for solutions to problems?
Are they visiting to make a purchase or primarily to find background and educational materials?
To make sure you’re hitting the mark, tools like Google Analytics provide valuable data about how people currently find and then use your website.
Examine metrics like traffic sources, top pages, bounce rate, and session duration to determine if your site is hitting the mark … or falling short.
Whenever someone visits your website you want them to have a seamless and uncomplicated experience.
The more difficult it is to navigate, the higher the chance that a visitor will leave out of frustration before finding the information they were looking for.
Seriously examine what the intent is behind your average website visitor and the best way to provide them with the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible.
For a restaurant, most visitors are looking for menus, location details, and how to make reservations.
For contractors, visitors want to know things like your typical projects, pricing, and timeline.
In real estate, it’s all about trust and then finding the right home.
Whatever your customers want, place it upfront on your homepage or create a separate page linked through a visually dominate call-to-action.
Much like good design, the best way to create a good user experience is to keep everything as simple as possible.
One good rule of thumb is that it shouldn’t take your visitor no more than three clicks to find out what they want to know.
At most, limit yourself to four or five top-level pages, with supporting pages under those as needed.
“Visitors who find websites to be visually appealing associate that aesthetic quality with professionalism, usability, and trustworthiness,” says Michael Wagner, web designer at Markon Brands.
In fact, according to a study by Kinesis Inc, 75% of customers will judge a business’s credibility based on their website’s design. With that in mind, take a moment to consider if you’re following best practices in website design; namely…
When it comes to design, it’s always best to take a “less is more” approach.
Don’t try to cram all the information onto a single page.
Instead, spread it out evenly and take advantage of whitespace to give your website a clean and minimalist aesthetic that prizes readability.
Choose a website design tool that is easy to maintain, suggests Ruta Puistomaa of LiquidBlox.
“Hiring a web developer for every little change you need to make will cost you both time and money,” she points out, which means you might put off important updates to your website.
Another way to make the design of your website more memorable is to take advantage of the right graphics.
Use images that feature people as the human eye is naturally drawn to people’s faces and make sure that those images are of high-quality and viewable on every type of device.
A description of your product or services is just the beginning.
Today’s successful websites also include information that can help customers learn more, whether through blog posts, case studies, video tutorials, infographics or FAQs.
The important thing is that it’s the kind of content that your audience wants.
Creating a few articles is a great start, but not enough.
One easy way to approach this is by applying a hub-and-spoke model to your content strategy.
The idea is that you create one authoritative piece of content and then link to other relevant pieces of content from the same page.
As soon as your audience is done consuming one piece of content they’ll immediately be presented with something else that interests them.
This is a great way to keep your audience engaged with your site, as well as optimizing your website’s SEO by building your internal linking architecture.
Credible and trust are at a premium in any business.
This is all the more crucial online, where misinformation and scams abound.
“To convert the person browsing your website to a lead, you need to make them feel comfortable about giving you a call, sharing their contact information, or making a purchase,” explains Earl White, co-founder of House Heroes LLC.
Especially on your about or contact page.How?
Create written or video testimonials from your best customers.
Display positive reviews from Facebook, Yelp, and Google Business.
Share industry awards, recognitions, and certifications specific to your niche.
Do anything and everything to make it easy for potential clients to see themselves doing business with you.
“Many businesses have a vague ‘About’ page full of marketing speak,” says John Locke, SEO consultant and founder of Lockedown Design & SEO.
But people want to do business with people.
A great place to start building a connection is by sharing a compelling story about the origin of your business.
Get rid of usual stock photos and use personal shots of your actual team and office.
“Showing who is behind the business will inspire more trust in your future customers,” Locke says.
Of course, all of this content and social proof also helps with “search engine optimization,” provided you are using the right keywords.
“Using high-volume and industry-relevant keywords and phrases,” explains Chris Williams, digital marketing strategist and founder of Clock In Marketing, “allows you to pop up when people are searching for the product or service you offer.”
A keyword research tool like Wordtracker or Keyword Tool can help you decide which ones to focus on.
While SEO once meant stuffing your site full of keywords, that strategy doesn’t work anymore, and might even get you dinged by the major engines.
SEO is constantly evolving—think of the new importance of local SEO and voice search—so brush up on current methods or enlist help in optimizing your site,” says digital marketing consultant Mike Khorev.
Many companies pay so much attention to SEO that they never consider whether their internal search is easy to use. But overlooking that can cost you sales.
Jordan Harling, multimedia manager at Interior Goods Limited, says the company recently improved the customer experience—and increased their sales—by making it quicker and easier to find the product they were looking for.
After doing a deep dive into their website data, Harling said he found customers were navigating through the site manually, using filters to refine the products on each page, rather than deploying the search bar.
The team discovered that the search function was only returning products that had the keyword in their title or description, rather than the other attributes that the design team had tagged.
Tweaking the search engine was a simple task that produced immediate results, he says, with a greater percentage of people using the search bar and increased conversions.
Speed rules when it comes to webpage design. In fact, the probability of a customer abandoning your page increases 90 percent when page load time goes from one second to five seconds, according to Google research.
(You can check your own page’s speed by running a Google Speed Test.)
He recommends WebPageTest, which provides insight into a wide variety of metrics and can be originated from a number of locations around the world using different phones and computers.
“Audit your pages against an average phone, like a Nexus 5 over a 3G connection, to get a true feel for performance issues,” he says.
Another key way to optimize site speed is by compressing overly large media files.
Smaller-sized imagery can make a big difference in page speed.
Instead of giving your audience a passive experience whenever they visit your website, give them opportunities to actively engage through interactive content.
According to a DemandGen Report, 59% of marketers believe that interactive content is highly effective at engaging an audience and a further 81% of agree that interactive content grabs attention more effectively than static content.
Likewise, chatbots offer a way for you to engage with your audience in real-time by answering questions, guiding them to the information they’re looking for, or just demonstrating that you’re available to listen and talk.
A simple tactic is to offer visitors the chance to enter a contest or giveaway by sharing something via social media (along with a branded hashtag) or by entering in their contact details onsite.
Beyond using a chatbot as a customer service tool, you can even use your chatbot to help you with your marketing and sales.
With some businesses using their chatbots to help set up sales meetings and appointments, and others even using chatbots make direct sales to customers.
Finally, you want to engage with your visitor, so don’t overlook clear calls to action so your visitor knows what to do next—whether that’s downloading a resource, completing a transaction, or using live chat for more information.
For best results don’t just use a web form on the contact page, recommends Locke. “Also include your physical address, phone number, and email.”
If you do use a contact form, try the process yourself to make sure it works and delivers email to your inbox.
After all, the entire goal of the website is to start a conversation with your potential customers, so make sure it’s easy and inviting for them to do so.
From average to the best small business website
To stay competitive in today’s market you need to be able to make your website a place that your audience enjoys visiting.
Whether you’re opening a new store or revamping your website, take advantage of the tips we’ve outlined above to help you reach out and engage with customers in a way that they appreciate.
Improving your website can seem daunting, but it’s one of the most worthwhile projects you can tackle. After all, a well-designed website is a gift that keeps on giving, selling you and your company to potential customers you don’t even know are looking.