While content still matters (absolutely!), it doesn’t matter much if your online audience isn’t finding you.
You want to get and stay ahead, and so does your competition. Standing out is harder than ever. If we’re all using the same technology, how can we differentiate ourselves?
Smart engines. Smart keywords.
Search engines use equations, or algorithms, to deliver results. The sheer number of new websites over the last several years has forced search engines to use a more complex and sophisticated algorithmic process. For competing search engines, “survival of the fittest” is about meeting greater demands to crawl, index, and rank the ever-growing magnitude of websites in order to provide the user with continued relevant search results. Therefore, as a more complex set of engine rules evolves, so should your keywords.
Yes, there’s a little legwork up front. You need to bring a critical eye to your website and your online content. Defining smart keywords is a thoughtful process. It’s strategic, and part of a longer-term web strategy. Think of your keyword selection as not just the foundation of your web marketing, but as the rebar inside that supports the foundation and all that you build on top of it. Though it can take up to a year to get desired results for a new URL, the long-term gains are worth the effort. Think about it: Your prospective customers are searching online for you. You want to be standing where they’re looking.
Right keywords. Right audience.
To generate great keywords, you must understand your online audience. Clarify your target user and how they search for information about your business or services online, as well as offline. For starters, conduct your own searches to determine how and where your primary online competitors are getting visibility.
Of course, your content needs to be on target, too. Differentiate yourself from your competition and really deliver.
By identifying keywords that speak to your industry, product, or company information – and most importantly – to your revenue-generating target audience, you cast a more accurate net. One website that targets all these areas well is the California Avocado Commission.
The California Avocado Commission (CAC) brings an educational human element that addresses all of its markets including focus on their best measure of return on investment, the consumer. For example:
- Interactivity: The site uses video to profile California avocado growers who strive to provide a quality product.
- Education: Information on the health benefits of the product, mouth-watering images, and recipes further address the product’s desirability.
- Community: The call to action for the web visitor is to download recipes and/or sign up for membership to receive recipes and other important product information.
If the goal of the CAC site is to increase consumption of California avocados (without actually selling them on the site), then it would be reasonable to measure the success of this goal by comparing increases in registration and recipe downloads to the increases in sales coming from the same geographical areas as the site visitors who complete these calls to action.
Right listings in the right places
Best search engine optimization (SEO) practices will help you get the right words in the right places. SEO has been, and still is, a customized effort to generate brand visibility, starting with identifying your most targeted terms. It takes a human to create appropriate language, and identify keywords that speak to your audience, their behavior, and needs. So think like a person first.
Second, be sure that the search engines support “listing someone like you” where you believe your audience is searching. This is significant, particularly if the terms you’ve selected are highly competitive. When you create titles, meta descriptions, and content related to your chosen keywords, you are doing so to
match what you want a search engine to grab for your listing with spot-on relevant content that your audience will hopefully click on. As such, you want to first check to see if the top search engine listings for your selected terms include either your direct competitors and or similar sites. If not, then try to assess if it’s because your competitors sites are just not well optimized (in which case, go for it!) or if it’s because the engines are giving priority listings to sites addressing a different audience. In the later case, continue researching before settling on your final optimized keyword list.
There’s more to it
Does this mean that all you have to do is get the right keywords in the right places, some good content, and voilà, you’ve got top search engine listings for all your optimized terms? Ten years ago I would have said yes. But I probably don’t need to tell you that today the answer is no. Link building, blogging, article generating, and social networking are all important examples of site-credibility boosters that help you get those merit-based top-rank positions for your optimized terms.
What I am saying is, choose your words wisely and chances are the rest of your marketing will be a smooth sail.
Martha Lee, Get in Position, CEO/Founder
A leader in the search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing (SEM) arena since 1999, Martha has more than 20 years of marketing experience in the software, online education, and e-commerce industries. In 2000, Martha founded the web-marketing firm, Get In Position (GIP).
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