Thump, thump, thumpety-thump.
Keyword optimization is the beating heart of SEO. As you know, the heart is a muscle. It needs exercise to stay strong, so you’re constantly on the lookout for genius SEO tips to revitalize the pump.
Problem is, many of the articles about keyword optimization are alike. They’re all about metadata, H-tags, and making sure your keyword has a decent search volume. Fatigue is creeping up on you.
Not to worry. This article is different.
0% advise on tiresome metadata. 100% actionable tips that you don’t come across every day.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
#1: Stay away from overly competitive keywords
Go with me on this.
You’re a hairdresser. You just launched a dazzling website, and you’re about to do some serious SEO.
Now’s the time to choose your keywords wisely if you want your keyword optimization to kick butt. Words like “hairdresser”, “hair cut”, and “hair salon” are tempting to go with. But the competition is fierce.
Opting for highly competitive keywords is like tying your shoelaces together before you go for a run. You can really scrape your knees there and making it to the finish line will be an agonizing struggle.
Instead of trying to compete with the big girls and guys in your business, look for keyword variations with less competition. Like synonyms, long-tail keywords, questions, and related searches.
As for synonyms, consider an online thesaurus. Then check the competition for the most relevant ones on the list. You might strike gold and find a couple of sparkling synonyms with a decent search volume but only a fraction of the competition.
As for the long-tails, check out Google’s related searches and look up the search volumes and competition for each relevant one you find.
While the keyword difficulty for “hairdresser” is through the roof, combinations like “highlights hair”, “short haircuts for women”, “hair extensions”, “hair color”, “natural hairstyles”, and “blonde hair” are easier to rank for. Try creating content around these keywords.
One way to do it is by clustering your keywords.
#2: Discover keyword clustering
Creating one page per keyword is a yeasty tactic. If you’re still doing it, please move on. Really. Be smart, and cluster your keywords instead.
In ye olden days, keyword optimization meant optimizing for keyword strings. We did this because Google used to be quite stupid. It would match a string of letters to documents in its index without paying much attention to either the meaning or the context of the words.
Today, fortunately, Google has graduated from the school of semantic search. Now, the search engine makes use of semantic analysis and user intent. What is the query actually about, and what is the user hoping to find? It’s no longer a matter of matching documents.
Rather, Google is trying to provide a solution to a problem.
For you, this means that keyword clustering is the way to go when you search for keywords and create content. Not only will it make your SEO writing more effective, but it will also make your writing better.
What is keyword clustering exactly?
You could say it’s the opposite of creating one landing page per keyword string.
Keyword clustering is grouping keywords that fall under the same category or that people often search for in relation to each other. Imagine you’re writing about, say, peanut butter. You do a little keyword research and come up with the following 10 often searched for phrases:
- peanut butter fudge
- peanut butter cookie recipe
- peanut butter pie
- who invented peanut butter
- natural peanut butter
- is peanut butter healthy
- can cats eat peanut butter
- is peanut butter good for you
- can dogs eat peanut butter
- how to make peanut butter
Writing one article for each query seems daunting, so try grouping the search queries.
You could write one article about what peanut butter is. Include in this article the queries “who invented peanut butter”, “how to make peanut butter”, and “natural peanut butter”.
Write another about peanut butter and health and include queries like “is peanut butter good for you”, and “can dogs eat peanut butter”.
Finally, write an article about peanut butter recipes and go nuts about pies, cookies, and fudge.
It’s up to you how closely related you want the keyword to be for them to belong to the same category. But I promise you that keyword clustering will help structure your website’s content. This, in turn, will help Google understand what your site is about and which of your articles to show as the best match for a given query.
In other words, your website will suffer less from keyword cannibalization, and you will see a significant improvement in your rankings.
#3: Know what your customers want
I want to tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a company whose business it was to translate text for other businesses. The company’s execs wanted more visibility on Google and chose to bet all their money on the keyword “translate”. So they buy Ads and wait for the money to start rolling in. But it doesn’t. A ton of clicks but no coin.
Because the company did not consider the intent behind “translate”. Intent is the thing. Every SEO doing keyword optimization ought to have a neon sign with the word INTENT hanging somewhere close by.
If your content doesn’t match the users’ intent, they will walk out the door as soon as they find out. And it just so happens that people searching for “translate” are not looking for a translating company. They want free translation tools. Tools that will help them figure out what’s in their sushi or decipher a Spanish proverb.
A simple Google search would have tipped the company off. Google is becoming quite the expert on search intent, and you can utilize that expertise by studying search results. No less than the first six SERP links are free online translating tools (the first four being Google’s). Go figure.
What happened to the company?
Well, they found out that what their audience was looking for was “business translation” and began optimizing for this combination. If the company had had one of those old-fashioned cash registers, it would have gone ka-ching.
The moral of the story is, of course, that you need to find out which keywords your customers use to search what you sell. And you can tap into Google’s massive experience with searches to do so.
#4: Spy on your competitors
Everyone wants to be the one to reach Mount Google first. Or at least get the best view possible. What I’m saying is that the steep climb is crowded and knowing how your competitors are doing can save you a lot of oxygen.
Say you’re a personal trainer. And you just can’t seem to outrank your competitors, no matter how high you jump.
What you need is a competitor rankings overview.
Your rank checker will show you competitor positions and best ranking URLs on a chosen set of keywords. Study these URLs closely.
What type of pages outrank you? How do they look? Maybe your competitors have lots of videos and pictures where you have none. Maybe they have more varied or vivid descriptions than you. Or perhaps their internal link structure is better than yours.
With a list view and a graph of how your competitors fare in Google, you can take up espionage and improve your rankings based on your secret findings.
I bet you can wrestle a couple of new keywords ideas from your competitors as well.
If not, it’s time to go fishing.
#5: Go fish for new keyword ideas
So you’re done scrutinizing Google. You’ve brainstormed yourself dizzy. And your competitors have no more secrets left.
Where are you supposed to go look for new keywords now?
Keyword research can be a pain in the butt. No formula exists to tell you exactly how to do it, so you have to be creative. Fortunately, there are places to dig if you’ve worn out your creativity reserves.
Don’t underestimate what people ask.
Fly by answerthepublic.com when you have a few minutes to spare.
In here, you can enter your topic or keyword and the tool will spit out a ton of questions that people frequently ask Google. Writing to answer questions will give your content a more natural feel. In other words, your articles become easier and more pleasant to read.
And there’s voice search, too. Even though voice search is not breaking news anymore, it’s still hot and you’ll want to include all the voices in your keyword optimization.
According to SearchEngineLand, an Adobe survey from last year showed that 48% of consumers use voice assistants for general web searches,.And people using virtual assistants to search the web often phrase their query as questions.
Thus, an online file cabinet bursting with FAQs is very handy.
Feel free to borrow.
But where to borrow from? Well, how about the world’s largest online encyclopedia?
Now, Wikipedia is not going to serve you a neat list of keywords ready to use. Look at it as a source of inspiration rather than a tool to generate keywords. Let’s take painting and paint as an example because, well, I’m hysterically in love with both.
A search for “acrylic paint” in Wikipedia is a pathway into a hidden world of keyword ideas.
In the introductory paragraph, Wiki defines the subject and has several blue links to other entries. Do they work for you? If so, borrow them. In our example, the blue links include “water-soluble”, “watercolor”, and “gouache”.
Further into the entry, we find interesting stuff about painting techniques and properties. If I were selling paint, I’d borrow words and phrases like “gloss or matte”, “professional acrylics”, “heavy body acrylics”, “medium viscosity acrylics”, and “pigmentation”. But there are buckets for you to borrow from.
Make sure to write about sizzling hot terms and topics.
Time to light the fuse under your keyword optimization. Visit explodingtopics.com where you can look for trending keywords in your category and create content around them.
The tool will show you a collection of graphs depicting the development of various keywords.
Red means that the search has peaked while blue means no real fluctuation. The green ones, however, show you which topics in your business are exploding. If you spot any that are relevant to you, here’s your chance to attract some of the guys and girls who are interested to know more about, or, perhaps, buy your product.
#6: Beware of snippets
Ranking no 1 is not what it used to be. Once it meant that you got all the attention because, well, you were the centerpiece of the cake.
Google answers more and more queries with snippets, ads, videos, ratings, knowledge graphs, carousels, and answer boxes. Truckloads of them.
So, for instance, if you own a website about origami and someone enters “origami bird” it might surprise you to know that the first organic blue SERP link is stashed underneath a bunch of pictures, videos, and shopping ads. People with a small screen have to scroll to see you, even if you hold a top-three position.
For YouTube channel owners, Ads buyers, and gifted image optimizers, this is great, of course.
But if you want a so-called regular webpage to rank, check out the snippets first. Do a search. If you see all kinds of snippets and ads, the keyword may have a low organic click-through rate and thus may not be worth the effort.
However, if the search volume is very high, it might be worth a shot anyway. But then, at least, you’ll know what you’re up against.
Those were my 6 keyword optimization tips for you. I use them all on a regular basis and I hope they’ll work for you.
Have a lovely spring day.