June 25, 2015
Keyword research and keyword optimization are not dead, although their use in SEO has evolved in recent years. The experienced content marketer understands the importance of keywords, not only in search optimization but also in content promotion and in social media marketing, retargeting, and other forms of digital marketing. Keywords can prove critical to the success of a content marketing strategy, and effective research requires more than finding appropriate keywords.
The days of keyword stuffing are long gone, and content marketers are encouraged to use keywords lightly in text, include semantically related keywords, and learn how to optimize for long-tail searches. This still requires solid keyword research, effective keyword planning, and sound keyword optimization.
What’s more, keyword research can help content marketers identify hot topics, evergreen content, and to organize a content publishing calendar. Specifically researching social media keywords can also help you to develop an effective social media marketing strategy, while ensuring that you stay on-point by producing relevant media for networks like Facebook, Twitter, and more.
Do Keywords Still Matter?
With all the talk of semantically related keywords and the seemingly constant threat that keywords are dead, it is easy to consider keywords as unimportant. However, the fact remains that users still start with a keyword search while on search engines, and they still want to see relevant content while on your blog, your website, and even your social media pages.
Keywords are bolded in search results, which can give your title and description greater prominence. Your search engine listing for each page should be viewed as an ad for that page, and making it stand out through bolded keywords is just one way of helping to improve your conversion rates.
Google typically populates its search results using the Meta tags on your pages; as do other websites including social media sites. Identifying and properly implementing the right keywords not only helps in your SEO campaign then, but can also assist in social media marketing, conversion rate optimisation, and even in your content marketing planning.
Tools like Yoast for WordPress enable you to add meta descriptions, while WildShark’s SEO Spider Tool is a free desktop SEO tool that highlights those pages of your site that are currently missing any title and description tags. It also enables you to identify which of your pages are most likely to rank for chosen keywords.
Longtail keywords are important. Individually, they attract very few visitors but they do typically have a high conversion rate of targeted visitors. When combined, your longtail keywords will make up a decent amount of traffic to your site, too. Often, we read that it is impossible to optimize for longtail keywords because it is impossible to predict the four or five word strings that people use when searching in this way.
While it is true that keyword research tools are often unable to produce longtail terms, by adding more content, including more keywords, and basing keyword predictions on existing analytics data, it is possible to pre-empt your potential visitors’ search requirements to some extent.
Use your Google Analytics or other Analytics software and export the list of keywords. Look at the longtail keywords that have been used, and identify common strings and similar searches. By substituting some of your major keywords into these terms, in place of the main keyword, and adding content that includes synonyms and semantically related terms, you can at least increase the likelihood of exposure to longtail searches.
There are different approaches to researching keywords. Tools like Wordtracker can cost a reasonable amount of money, but paying for a subscription to a service like this enables you to find some of the more obscure keywords. You should also consider free tools like SerpStat, which can provide you with question based keyword ideas; a very useful source of possible longtail keywords.
Don’t be afraid to create a massive list of keywords. You should be adding content on a regular basis, and when mapping keywords, you can assign some of these to your regular blog posts, to your social media posts, and some to your main pages.
Create a content framework that includes the primary pages, your cornerstone content, secondary and supporting content, and your ongoing and even external content. Once you have a content framework, you should assign keywords to each page.
Don’t simply throw a relevant looking keyword at a page. Consider the visitors that are likely to land on each page, and then opt for the keywords that offer the greatest relevance, taking into account what stage of the buying process they are at, their level of exposure to the product or service you offer, and how they are likely to have arrived on your pages.
This is an integral stage in the content marketing process, and it will play a big part in conversion rate optimization too. Spend some time to ensure that you’re placing the right keywords on the right pages.
Using Keywords In Content
Thankfully, keyword stuffing is no longer a viable keyword tactic and considering the fact that keywords are important to your search result listing, the placement may be considered more important than the number of times you use a specific keyword. Include your keyword in the title and description of the page, and do try to utilize it and synonyms, or semantically related terms, in your text.
Use keywords in your blog posts, and use your keyword list to help determine the content for at least some of your posts. Similarly, use keywords in external content, and on your social media updates.
Monitor And Act On Performance
Like any good PR or marketing campaign, content marketing should not be considered a one-off affair. Monitor ongoing results to determine efficacy and so that you can use updated analytics results to identify additional longtail keywords.
Regularly update your keyword list, incorporate new keywords and continue to analyze the path that visitors are taking, the strings they are using when compiling search terms, and the stage of the purchasing funnel they are at when they arrive on your pages.
Above all else, when looking to introduce more longtail search terms, the key is to keep producing relevant and high quality content. Answer questions posed by your own visitors, use sites like Quora and even LinkedIn Groups to help identify popular questions and queries.
Matt Jackson creates and implements effective content marketing strategy, including the writing of high quality content and blogs posts and the promotion of content, via Branding Media. Visit the site for more information or follow @BrandingMatt on Twitter for news and tips.