When a business decides to implement an organic SEO strategy, the first step is to choose a number of keywords; these are the terms that a business wants its website to be listed for when a user types them into a search engine, such as Google. However, there is often disparity between what a business wants to be organically listed for in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and what phrases people are actually searching for. Furthermore, compliance issues could impact what can be communicated on the business’ website; a keyword might be unable to be used on site for a number of reasons and this affects strategic decisions.
Before we go any further, it’s crucial to point out that the website’s audience should always be the priority when using keywords in copy and the other site elements. Google and its competitors have clever little robots these days and it’s easy to ‘over optimise’. Basically, they’re going to know if you’re writing a page purely for search purposes and such content, and the site as a whole, won’t be looked on favourably. Provide quality, useful content in the first instance and consider its optimisation second.
But back to keywords… initially, a business should list as many options as it can think of. Include singular and plural versions as well as terms with words swapped around, for example, ‘SEO agency services’, ‘SEO agencies’, ‘agency with SEO services’. Next, research the monthly traffic volumes to ensure people are searching for the terms – these never cease to throw up surprises.
Although it does depend on the industry, the generic keywords with the highest traffic volumes will probably be very difficult to rank highly for. This will almost certainly require a compromise; for example, ‘wedding photographer’ will be hugely competitive so more niche keywords (with more words – long-tail) may be a wiser choice, such as ‘vintage wedding photographer’ or ‘quirky wedding photographer in [location]’. Another compromise is likely to come when a business finds not enough people are searching for its product or service in the same way as its current description. If a company’s ultimate goal is to attract the attention of the largest number of search engine users, its messaging, both on-site and in a wider marketing context, might need to be modified to incorporate more valuable search terms.
On occasions, this same issue is complicated by compliance requirements, for example, a business I previously worked with wanted to promote its on-going ‘self-employed positions’ or ‘opportunities’. Although legally this is the way they had to be described these terms were not being searched for; however, over 14,000 people were searching for the industry in question plus ‘jobs’. The company’s compliance department were unhappy with the term jobs but a balance was eventually struck with very clear on site messaging. This capitalised on how the audience was searching whilst avoiding giving the wrong impression about the career opportunities.
Whichever compromises your business must make to utlilise the most relevant and beneficial SEO keywords, capturing search traffic is just the start; ensure your website conveys the best messages and converts interest into sales.