What’s Your SEO Keyword Strategy? 11 Tips To Master the Task

There is more to a good SEO keyword strategy than picking some highly searched terms and sprinkling them around the page or blog post.

Having loads of keywords reaching the first page on Google isn’t even a surefire method to success. SEO strategies need to take every part of your website into account.

To best utilize your keyword strategies for organic search, you have to think of both on-page as well as a site-wide strategy to reach your target audience.

1. Set Your Goals; Plan Ahead

The first step to planning your SEO strategy is to figure out what it is that you want from your website. Are you offering a product or a service? Do you have an entertainment blog? An e-commerce site for a brick-and-mortar small business? An informational journal for scientific professionals? A B2B, B2C, C2C, etc.?

This will help to clarify your goals and how to achieve them. It’s best to try and figure out where you’d like to go, even if you have to alter your plan later. For example, when your site begins to perform well, you may want to add a merch section, even if you did not initially plan to be an e-commerce site.

How to Plan Your SEO Keyword Strategy: 11 Tips- think before setting goals

2. Understand the Importance of Search Intent

Now that you have thought out your goals, it’s time to reverse engineer them. A website selling sunglasses has a different audience and different needs than a website discussing the importance of protecting your eyes from UV rays.

This knowledge is important when researching keywords because each search query will have an understood intent by the search engines. Generally speaking, this will be the most popular use of the term, but not always.

The best way to get a feel for what the intent is known as is to search the term and see what type of pages are coming up.

3. Competitive Research

You can find out many things from researching your competitors, but there are some main factors to consider. First, your competitors should be representative of companies that are both in your vertical as well as at the same level or slightly above that of your website.

This can be determined by:

  • How long they were active
  • If they have a comparable amount of users
  • How well they are ranking for similar keywords

It can be prudent to aim higher than your website, looking at the tactics of websites ranking a few pages ahead of yours, but do not waste time comparing yourself to well-established brands right from the start.

You are not Walmart or Amazon and that is okay. Their goals are unrealistic for most business, therefore their tactics are good to know, but mostly irrelevant.

4. Research Related Vertical Keywords

Intent can be unexpected, so you should make a point of thinking outside of the proverbial box when it comes to research. People find websites in many ways.

Looking into related verticals can help you to find otherwise unthought of keywords with an overlap of intentions that can help users to find your website. They can also help to foster a grander sense of community, which is increasingly important from the social aspect of online marketing.

How to Plan Your SEO Keyword Strategy: 11 Tips-target high search volume

5. Target High Relevance Over High Search Volume

Another result of having intuitive search engines that have a better grasp of intent is that long tail keywords are becoming increasingly important. As a brick-and-mortar restaurant, ranking on the first search engine results page for the term “calzones” would be virtually useless when your audience is searching for “pizza San Diego” or “restaurants open after 9”.

The keywords to target are the ones that will generate leads, sales, and actual dollar values. Volume is still important, but as a secondary factor to intent and relevance.

6. Don’t Over-Rely on Keyword Planner

There are many keyword research tools and AdWords is a favorite for a reason. It gives information straight from Google, so it’s the most relevant information, right? Not always.

Unless you have a significant ad spend, you won’t have access to specific numbers, which is already a hindrance, but the bigger issue is that the keyword planner was designed with ads in mind, not SEO.

Be adventurous and branch out into different research tools and you will find much more information than with the keyword planner alone.

7. Think in Topics Rather Than Keywords

One of the best ways to make sure that you are finding the keywords to best serve your purpose is to cluster them into groups semantically. Let’s say your website is focused on animal care and you have to research keywords related to sheep.

The topics may be divided into health, feed, exercise, etc. to find relevant keywords, which you can research separately and form target keyword lists to use when planning and creating content. Blog posts that are divided by topic are more user-friendly and send clear signals to search engines.

How to Plan Your SEO Keyword Strategy: 11 Tips- be exclusive with content and keywords

8. From Keywords to Content

These lists of keywords are then used to build out your content strategy. Most websites benefit from the format of having generalized topics expand into more specific information, so keep that in mind when planning ahead by using the given keywords as guidelines. Create content that is both what your audience wants and optimized for search engines.

9. Be Exclusive

More isn’t always better, even when it comes to more keywords with more traffic. If the keywords do not have to do with the purpose your content, leave them out.

Keeping with the example from the previous entry, the term “sheep wool sweater” may be highly searched, but it doesn’t have anything to do with your topic, so you can exclude it.

10. Decide How Often to Use Each Keyword

The best way to prevent keyword stuffing is to plan ahead. Choose 1-3 focus keywords and decide a maximum amount of times they can be used in your article, then make sure your secondary terms are limited in use to a lesser number.

The focus or target keywords should also be used in the headers and titles, which are valued higher by search engine crawlers than plain text. And don’t forget to add them to meta descriptions. Although not a ranking factor, if someone is searching for that keyword and it’s in the meta description, the keyword will be bold. This helps attract attention quicker.

11. Review and Optimize

You found your focus, decided on goals, and researched keywords. Now it’s time to create your content because all of the research in the world is theoretical until you put it into action.

You can always go back and adjust after you analyze which search terms are showing movement, but the information from your Google Analytics and Google Search Console are invaluable to this process.

Some keywords just won’t move and some unexpected gems will show up. If you learn to adapt and keep a “never say die” attitude, you will be much better off in the long run.

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