When it comes to creating websites that really perform, there's so much more to consider than just the way your site looks.
Long-term content strategy.
Search engine optimization.
Aaah! The list goes on and on.
But there's one ESSENTIAL concept that trips just about every client up:
Building your website and content strategically by using keywords.
The concept seems simple, right?
In order for your site to be found, we want to include words that are important to your customers, business, and services.
...In other words, key words.
But there's one huge problem: This most basic definition of keywords glosses over the strategy that goes into finding and using great keywords.
So how do you find which keywords your website really needs?
Let's dive in.
Start by asking the right questions.
We work with a very, very wide range of clients — from thermal heat engineering firm, to a salon and spa, to birth education and counseling, cafes, restaurants, nonprofits... And the list goes on!
But here's a secret: No matter what field you're in, there is one essential exercise you can use to find the perfect keywords for your business.
It's a series of questions that takes you step-by-step through strategically identifying which keywords will help your site stand out.
We perfected this process after dozens of sessions attempting to explain to clients what keywords really mean for their site. After using this process to build dozens of successful, keyword-driven websites, we're confident our keyword process can work for anyone.
It's just four straightforward steps to get you answering the right questions from a strategic mindset.
Questions coming right up:
1. What is it that you deliver or produce?
All too often, companies focus on their how way too much.
Once, we had a client say "compassion," "gratitude," and "helpful" when we asked for keywords for their business.
To find relevant keywords for your website, you need to be thinking about what you offer.
This should be a concrete good, service, or outcome. For example:
- We produce websites.
- A salon sells manicures.
- A carpet cleaning company delivers carpet cleaning and spot removal.
You get the idea.
2. What's the one thing that brings most buyers to your door?
Maybe you'd like to be at the point in your business where you have clients who get their carpets cleaned every two weeks to give you a steady stream of business. But those ideal outcomes (like "ongoing carpet maintenance") aren't going to be what brings most of your customers to the door.
To find your your number one thing, take a look at the number of inquiries you get for different products or services. What request do you get the most?
That request – and the related searches your potential customers perform – is the intent of a customer's search. What is it your customers are usually looking for?
Easier said than done? Here's an example of figuring out what that intent is:
Yes, we'd like to get clients onto an ongoing marketing retainer in order to keep doing business with them, but nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, "Yes, today I need to find someone who can handle an ongoing marketing retainer for me."
No! They wake up and think,
I need a website.
I need a logo.
I need carpet stain removal.
I need a manicure.
I need a _______.
And then after they're fully awake? They head to their computer, open up a search engine, and start searching for website developers for their small business.
Got it? Great. :) Now, let's focus on your ONE concrete deliverable in order to start building your keywords.
3. What related terms are your customers searching for?
Now, we're going to take the deliverable you identified in #2 and find related keywords.
To get started, brainstorm a few keywords you think could be related. Maybe these are alternate terms you've heard your customers use, or longer phrases, like...
- Pet stains
- Upholstery cleaning
- Furniture cleaning
- Wine stain removal
- Clean carpets
- Professional carpet cleaner
If you want to move beyond your own creative power, now is a great time to turn to technology for help.
If you're up for it, you can open up Google Keyword Planner or a free resource like my fave SEO Keyword Suggestion Tool to see what comes up – or, simply start typing that search into Google and see what the engine offers as autocomplete suggestions.
Keep track of these terms – you can start building great content around them later!
4. Which long-tail keywords do those concepts lead to?
This is related to number 3, but with a little more help.
Long-tail keywords are usually terms or phrases that appear less frequently in search. That might sound backward – why would you want to target less frequent search terms?
The short answer:
You want to target long-tail keywords because you'll be facing less competition.
Again, you can turn to Google Keyword Planner or another, more streamlined free tool like keyword.io to find suggestions.
Take a long-tail keyword we'd love to rank for: Squarespace design.
Popping that two-word term into keyword.io generates a wealth of ideas:
All of those long-tail terms are excellent ideas to build content around.
PS: Add "how to" or "tips" to these suggestions to have an easier time visualizing the type of helpful content marketing you could create.
5. What terms are your competitors ranking for?
Time for some espionage work. Checking out the keywords your competitors are ranking for is a great way to spy on the competition.
I like using SEMrush to get a good overview of other sites' strengths and weaknesses. Here's how:
- Input a competitor's URL into the search bar.
- Check out the overview of what's up on their site – look at the top organic keywords section to see what they're ranking well for.
As you can see, our competitor has a few keywords we're definitely competing for: columbia mo web design, website design columbia mo, and missouri web design to name a couple.
At this point, you can focus on building those keywords in your own website (through creating great content marketing – NO dirty tricks allowed!). You could also choose to run paid search advertisements for those search terms to come in ahead.
OR. You could also take it one step further:
Which search terms do you know you want to appear for that your competitors aren't performing well in?
Bingo. Target those keywords to build up your presence while your competitors are sleeping on them.
The bottom line: SEO doesn't have to be scary.
That's because SEO isn't about some technical miracle, spammy backlinks, or keyword stuffing anymore.
Ranking for organic search terms is all about creating relevant, high-quality content that your customers can find and enjoy.
Make it engaging. Make it unique. Make it useful. And above all, make it strategic.
Find keywords and topics that are relevant to your customers' needs – and use those needs as opportunities to open the door to making sales.
You can do it!
But if you want help, we've got exactly what you need to know in our Essential Squarespace SEO e-course. You'll walk away ready to take on the world of SEO.
Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity, website design and execution, and ongoing social media and content marketing strategies in-person and through online courses, we're focused on your business success every step of the way.