Does it seem like there’s some top-secret special formula for using keywords to drive traffic to your site? All the SEO jargon, tricks and tools out there can make the whole process feel awfully intimidating, especially when you’re a small business owner with very little time to devote to research and very little in your budget to pay someone to figure it out for you.
You want to keep your blog updated. You have lots of great ideas for posts. But sometimes, worrying about using the “right” keywords in the “right” places is paralyzing. You don’t want to do it “wrong,” so you just give up and don’t post anything at all on your blog, or you write only sporadically.
Well, I’m here to let you in on the secret formula, and it’s a lot simpler than you think. Yes, there are some complicated and savvy things you can do to boost traffic to your site. But my secret formula is one that any small business can use, and it won’t take a bunch of time or money:
Common sense + a few simple tools + lots and lots and lots of quality content = Your Keyword Strategy
The thing that’s changed in 2014 is that Google has gotten more sophisticated than ever. Have you made a search on Google and noticed that the search engine changed your search query, but it actually helped? Search for “pizza” and you won’t get the history of pizza, you’ll get some links that help you order a pizza from someplace close to where you are.
Google is showing you what it thinks you want, and it’s also making decisions on what to show based on what it thinks sites are about. That is, if you write lots of blog posts about ovens, flour, sugar, eggs, and bundt pans, Google will decide all on its own that the site is related to baking. You can say “baking” on your homepage, but a lot of blog posts with all those other words will help you in some ways even more than what’s on your home page once or twice.
So, armed with that knowledge, here’s the breakdown of your keyword strategy for 2015:
Of course you want to use the right keywords to help people find you. But the truth of the matter is, if you’re writing about a topic related to your business, you’re automatically using the right keywords. If your company does landscaping in Milwaukee, then you’re not going to blog about cat grooming in San Diego. When you write relevant things that would be useful to your customers and potential customers, keywords will magically appear in your content.
That “relevant” part is critical, but again, it comes down to common sense. Just consider what your readers want to know about. What questions might they have? What would they put into a search engine that would lead them to your site? You might be able to draw some serious traffic with promises of the latest celebrity gossip, but if you’re a roofing company, those readers will just leave in disappointment. More traffic isn’t really the goal, is it? The goal is more of the right traffic — the kind that you can convert to leads and sales.
The key is to write original content that your potential customers would want to read. Always write for real live human readers, not for search engines. The great part is that nowadays these are pretty much the same thing. Google is most interested in what your human readers want to see: original, engaging content that provides value. And thanks to some complicated algorithms, they’re getting better and better at recognizing it.
Another common-sense tip: location matters. People search by location, and especially if they’re using a mobile device, there’s a good chance they’re looking for something in a specific area. If you have a brick-and-mortar storefront that you want people to visit, include your location as one of your keywords. And don’t stop with your city and state. If you’re in a specific area or neighborhood, include that as well. It can sometimes be difficult for smaller, local businesses to be found online, but you can improve your odds by mentioning your location throughout your site.
A few simple tools
Even though most of your keywords should come naturally in writing about your business, knowing how to research good keywords is also a crucial skill.
Here’s why: keyword research is actually a great way to brainstorm lots of good ideas for blog posts. By exploring all the possible keywords for your business, you can make sure you’re covering all the products or services you offer in a balanced way across your blog and your entire website. It can help you consider questions that your customers might have, as well as related topics you could write about that would draw in interested readers.
Some of the most popular keyword research tools are the Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, Wordtracker Keyword Tool, Moz Keyword Difficulty and SERP Analysis Tool and SEMRush. “The Definitive Guide to Using Google’s Keyword Planner for Keyword Research” has some great advice for using that very popular free tool. Besides the typical keyword tools, this post from Moz describes some other creative strategies for adding to your keyword list.
Now that you’ve got some new keywords (and some new ideas for blog posts!) where should you include them in the posts? Simply by writing great posts you’re already ahead of the game, but a little strategic placement of keywords is fairly simple and can improve your search results even more. Put keywords in your title, URL, page title tag, meta description, heading tags, and any alt image tags. Then try to include them in your first paragraph and occasionally throughout the article.
A good keyword density to shoot for is around 2 to 4 percent. The main thing here is to avoid “keyword stuffing” — Google hates it, and so do readers. However, if you’re simply writing naturally about a topic, keyword stuffing won’t be a problem. If you’re concerned that you may be using your keywords too much or not enough, go ahead and write the thing first, and then go back and check how many times you used the same keyword. If it comes out to more than 2 to 4 percent of your content, edit accordingly.
But really, if you read the post out loud and it sounds natural, then you don’t need to worry. (That’s also a great tip about how to improve your writing, reading out loud helps you find the clunky sentences that seem OK when you are only typing.)
Lots and lots and lots of quality content
If that was starting to feel a little too technical and complicated, take heart. The fact is that even if you never calculate your keyword density, your blogging efforts will not go to waste.
The absolute most important thing is to produce great blog posts on a regular schedule. The more competition you have, the more you’ll want to blog.
The only way your hard work will go to waste is if you don’t keep your blog updated. As this article points out, having an inactive blog can be worse than not having one at all.
Of course, as I said earlier, your content should always be useful or at least a little bit interesting to your readers in some way. Everything you write should provide some kind of value and be relevant to your business. But quantity also matters. If you only blog occasionally, it won’t matter how helpful and fantastic those blog posts are, because no one will ever find them.
So here’s your secret formula for blogging in 2015: update your blog regularly, write about things that matter to your audience, and do a little research to come up with some creative keywords. That’s it. Really!
This post was written by Scott Yates, CEO of a service where you can buy blog posts, BlogMutt. He had help from one of the thousands of BlogMutt writers, and you can, too. Where Signpost is the engine to drive your marketing efforts, BlogMutt provides the fuel to keep the engine running with all-original blog posts delivered every week.