SEO Marketing: Finding the Right Keywords

When it comes to posting content online, SEO marketing is a necessity if you want to reach your potential customer base. When most people think about SEO (search engine optimization), one of the first things that usually comes to mind are keywords. The language that you use in your content is going to be one of the biggest deciding factors for determining whether a webpage is relevant to a user.

Choosing the right keywords can be difficult though, as it not only demands that you thoroughly understand your business and your craft, but also requires in-depth research into the terms that your target audience are searching for. Keyword optimization can be time consuming, but the long-term value is undeniable. But how do you pick the right keywords?

The Importance of Keywords

First of all, the most important thing to remember when building a keyword strategy is to realize that there are different keywords for different objectives. As such, you need to have a clear idea of what your business goals are to choose the right keywords for your brand. Most SEO marketing strategies are tailored towards the long-term, so if you’re looking for immediate results, you will likely need to use different keywords than you would if you were hoping to see steady improving over several months or a year. There are also different keywords to use when you’re looking to get people to buy your products versus simply raising brand awareness.

Regardless of what your goals are, you’ll need a mix of what are called “head” keywords and “long-tail” keywords. Head keywords are short phrases, associated with higher traffic and higher competition, while long-tail keywords are longer, usually conversational phrases that have lower traffic but lower competition. Competition is a vital consideration when choosing keywords: the more sites using a word or phrase, the more you will have to compete with in the search results.

Finally, you’ll need to consider the relevance of each keyword to your customer and the core of your brand. After all, it doesn’t matter if your keywords have high traffic and low competition if they aren’t relevant to your business or your target audience. Relevance will at least be partially a matter of knowing your industry and services, requiring knowledge of your competition and what makes your business unique. You’ll also need to know what your target audience is looking for and what problems they are dealing with.

The Problem of Keyword Stuffing

Given that keywords play such an important role in determining a website’s ranking in search results, some businesses have tried to game the system through a practice called keyword stuffing. “Keyword stuffing” refers loading a webpage with various keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in online search results. This can include listing a bunch keywords without context or simply repeating the same words or phrases in manner that sounds unnatural.

While you need to include relevant keywords to appear in your target audience’s search results, keyword stuffing can hurt you chances of being found. Google and other search engines will often penalize pages that are guilty of such tactics, lowering them in the rankings or removing them all together. The reason is obvious: keyword stuffing is all about beating the search engine algorithm rather than providing a high-quality user experience. It is essentially another form of spam. NO ONE likes spam.

Quality Is King

Using keywords is essential for getting noticed online, but it needs to be done appropriately and follow a strategic approach. SEO and content need to work together in balance: if you stuff your webpage with keywords and overoptimize, you’ll end up hurting your chances of being seen by potential customers, but if you avoid them entirely, you’re unlikely to reach your target audience.

The solution is to be more selective about your keywords, both in terms of which ones you use and how you use them. Integrate them into your content in a way that feels natural and provides value. Not only does this avoid the issue of keyword stuffing and ensure that customers actually find your content, but it also makes it more likely that the content will actually be useful to them. And that is the most important part of content marketing.

Mark Buckner
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Mark Buckner is a freelance writer and editor from Hammond, Indiana. A recent graduate of Purdue University Northwest, he has edited two books and written on topics ranging from social media to science fiction film. At this time, he is open to other freelance writing and editing opportunities.

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