How SEO Can Level Up Your Business
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the first things clients want to talk about with us. Without spending a lot, ranking for the right keyword is the key to clicks, conversions, and revenue.
Detailed keyword research is one of the first things you need to do to set up your SEO campaigns for success.
The foundation of effective SEO is figuring out what prospective clients want to know (and read about), and consequently which words clients use to find this information. This is keyword research.
Business owners use different language than customers to describe the same concepts. At its heart, keyword research is understanding the ways different people communicate specific ideas.
Tuning into the exact words customers use to describe your services and the problems they face is critical. It ensures that the keywords in your content match the search terms they use in their searches.
If you use industry terms or jargon, and they use more informal language, not only will they have trouble reading your content, but they might never find your page.
Talk personally with customers
A good place to start is the written and spoken communications you and your team have with customers. Just by making people aware of the importance of words, they’ll be more likely to notice the specific words they use. Have conversations with your customers and larger market by asking good questions and then listening closely.
Too often will translate people’s phrases using our words to remember what they’re describing. This loses a key dimension of communication; it’s critical to note what they say verbatim. Capture these words in a central document for easy access.
A customer survey is a good idea to make sure you’re keeping up with your customer’s values and needs. For a couple of questions, you might prompt them for the words they’d use to search for a core service.
One useful resource for collecting data such as this is Collect Chat, which provides your website with a 24/7 interactive chatbot to aid you in your analysis of keywords and visitor engagement.
Find keywords on social media
Browsing forums and social media groups where your services are discussed by customers is another way to optimize web traffic. Looking at media and competitors’ content can also uncover valuable keywords. Finding and using the right keywords is critical for being found in searches.
Effective marketing uses the language prospective clients use. If they’re not familiar with what you’re saying, they’re likely to discount your value or shop somewhere else.
The words themselves make a difference in a prospect’s assessment. Much like how you lead with your strongest selling points to close a prospect, use the words most likely to trigger them to action.
How can keywords help you?
Thorough keyword research can give you valuable insight into your entire marketing program, not just SEO. High-value keywords are the ones that will help you meet your objectives most effectively. You want keywords that bring you the most searches (volume) and the right kind of traffic (intent) for the least amount of effort (competition).
Volume refers to the number of searches that are done in a certain time frame. As a general rule, you want high-volume keywords because they tend to help increase traffic. When you compare different keywords, you won’t necessarily be able to determine the exact number of searches each one yield, but you can get a relative comparison between keywords and thus find out which ones are most effective.
The search intent of a particular keyword looks at what the user’s main objective for the search is. There are three forms of “intent” that potential customers might have when searching for your product. Informational intent means the searcher is looking to better understand their problem, considering the available solutions/substitutes.
Comparative intent means they have a particular course of action in mind and they want to determine their best option moving forward. Informational intent and comparative intent can be useful keywords to target if you have a content marketing program to answer their initial concern and stay in touch with them until they’re ready to buy.
Keywords with commercial intent mean the prospective customer wants to buy right now. This intent is the most valuable (and usually competitive) because a sale is imminent.
The competitiveness of a keyword refers to how difficult it is to rank for it. If many websites have long been doing SEO for a specific keyword (with lots of backlinks), their positions will be stable and difficult to surpass. A lower competition keyword is more in play with fewer players with a well-established position. When determining your competitiveness, look at your current rank for the keyword. A keyword you’re in spot 5 for is more promising than a keyword you’re ranking at 100 for – It will take less work.
In an ideal world, you’d only have high volume, commercial intent keywords that are low competition.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. A little judgment is necessary to select the optimal keyword to target your efforts. Usually, it’s best to err on the side of lower volume but easier to rank for. Ideally, the search term indicates someone actively solving their problem or ready to buy right now.
As noted above, the most basic, high-volume keywords are generally highly competitive. Called head terms, these keywords are usually short keywords (2-3 words) and high volume. While they bring a lot of traffic to high-ranking websites, these keywords lack the specificity of a long-tail keyword. A long-tail keyword by definition is longer than a head term, usually 3-5 words long.
More words mean more detail with the user’s needs more spelled out.
Talking with and surveying your customers, as well as monitoring social conversations, are great places to start when it comes to identifying topics of importance and the words they use to find your services.
This will lead you to expand your list of possible keywords and validate your list using existing data. To do this, there are a variety of SEO tools for conducting keyword research. Some examples of tools you can use include Adwords Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and KWFinder.
The process of SEO starts with plugging in one or more “seed” keywords. The software returns a sizable list of related keywords. For each suggested keyword, you’ll get search volume, keyword difficulty (competitiveness), and Cost per click (for paid search – relative price can imply desirability).
It’s important to note that this data is quantitative information. It gives you a lot of what, but not much why. By starting with your customers you seed the tool with the most relevant keywords to start with.
Additionally, you develop your customer intuition to better understand the implied meaning of each keyword to determine which search term corresponds to a desirable prospect.
Idea Labs can help you
Idea Labs is an Austin-based team of consultants and coaches helping small businesses solve a wide range of business problems since 2011. Our team is composed of experienced entrepreneurs and technical experts.
We offer three distinct ways to work with you based on your current needs.
- Unlimited business coaching and consulting for a full year [$100 per month or less]
- Access to the resource platform of our products and services [pay for what you need]
- Business products and tools we recommend [free]
While there are plenty of sources for start-ups and small businesses to receive help, funding, and mentorship, Idea Labs operates like a marketplace by meeting the needs of your business ecosystem. As opposed to the common consulting and business coaching trope of increasing billable hours or project scope in order to maximize revenue, we prefer to be a place you can depend on during crucial stages of your business journey. We can help connect where you are now and where you want to be.
Idea Labs Consulting