How (and why) you target different types of keywords

Coming up with a list of high-quality keywords with a lot of search volume is important. Read what Ann says about why it is important to diversify your keyword strategy.

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Ann Smarty


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One of the first tasks of any successful SEO campaign is driven by keyword research. Although keyword research can be somewhat complicated, there are really three core ideas that most website owners have in place: 

  • Find a keyword that is relevant to their business or website
  • Find a keyword that doesn’t have much competition
  • Find keywords that get search traffic. 

Most companies will target a list of three to six keywords per page and work hard to rank for this set of keywords.

A common mistake that many website owners make throughout the keyword selection process is not being open-minded enough.  They are often hesitant to stray away from a core set of keywords that they have their heart set on targeting.  They might focus on 10 or so keywords that they’ve already determined and focus solely on those keywords. The thing is, this strategy means that there are lots of missed opportunities.

Typically the handful of keywords that website owners want to focus on are the ones that have the highest search volume. They are distracted by the number of clicks they may generate and don’t fully understand what it means.

Keywords with the highest search volume are also the ones that are the most broad and competitive.

Coming up with a list of high-quality keywords with a lot of search volume is important, but there are still other types of keywords that are worth targeting:

Long-tail keywords: Higher conversion rate

Long-tailed keywords refers to search terms that are longer than a couple words; often they are a phrase where the user is after a very specific piece of information or action. Many website owners shy away from long-tail keywords because they don’t get nearly as much activity as short-tail keywords. However, long-tail keywords are sometimes the best keywords to represent your page. These types of keywords will attract a targeted audience, and many times this audience is more interested in buying than those who search for broad terms.

Website owners need to be open to the idea of targeting more niche (long tail) keywords that have lower search volume but also have lower competition. 

Incorporating long-tail keywords into the mix is beneficial because searchers that use longer (more specific search queries) are typically more targeted visitors that know exactly what they are looking for and are further along in the sales cycle.

Let’s say your target keyword is “shoes” – try to imagine someone searching for that keyword. They obviously have no idea what kinds of shoes they are looking for. They will be easily distracted, and will probably abandon their shopping cart even if they get to it.

Now, let’s think of someone searching for “red heel shoes with bow” – these people know exactly what they need and they will probably buy the right product right away.

Long-tail query searchers are very close to converting. They are fewer than broad-term searchers but they are much more valuable! These are the keywords that will likely convert more of those clicks into sales. Keep discovering more of those. Never stop at your list.

Use a multi-channel keyword research tool to identify all kinds of those long-tail queries that you need to be targeting (based on your product inventory). Tools that use multiple data sources will give you a broader idea of how people search and let you discover more useful search queries to incorporate into your SEO strategy:

Low-search-volume keywords: Traffic diversification

Business owners tend to focus on queries with the highest search volume deeming all the low-search-volume – less popular – keywords a waste of time and energy.

This is a huge mistake.

There is generally less competition with these types of keywords and it can take some time to do some research, so many websites ignore them.

When chasing keywords with the highest search volume, you can wait for months and years before you see any clicks. When expanding your strategy to lower the search volume pool, you will see traffic gradually growing within a month or two.

But there’s another, much more effective aspect: Diversification.

There’s the same mistake I see businesses make over and over again: They rely too heavily on traffic coming from one or two keywords.

Why is this a huge mistake?

Google SERPs are versatile: They can change within a day and you may lose your first-page position within a day. With Google having no valid alternative, this may mean 80% of sales for certain businesses.

What if you diversify your rankings to all kinds of keywords, each bringing 0.1% of traffic? So you lose one or two of those positions. Your business will hardly ever notice.

Organic traffic diversification means reliable incoming traffic and conversions. It’s something you need to start working towards right now! If you are just starting your site (be it a huge project, a retail store, or a niche-specific online boutique), start with lower search volume keywords to see results within a few months.

Related keywords: Wider audience

You want to always make sure you are incorporating different variations of the same keyword. For example, if you work for a social media marketing firm, you may want to target keywords like social media, marketing firm, and social media firm. All of these keywords are synonyms for the same concept, and different people are sure to use different keywords when performing a search. We call these related keywords.

It is also important to try and think like your customers. In many cases, a potential customer is not as attuned to the lingo in your industry as you. Although something may mean two different things to you, a consumer could potentially use the two terms interchangeably. For example, you know that social media dashboards are different than social media networks, but those looking to learn more may not.

You obviously cannot target every single possible variation of your keyword, but there are things you can do to help. Text Optimizer is a semantic research tool that is perfect for identifying all those related search queries your target customers may be using. Simply type in your target keyword and the tool will suggest all kinds of related concepts you need to incorporate into your current copy:

Targeting a variety of relevant keywords is the best SEO approach today.  Search engines want to see a natural approach to keyword usage. Incorporating a variety of new keywords into the mix keeps the search engines happy and diversifies your traffic sources.

Keyword research is a necessary component in order to determine how people are searching for what the website offers; you want to ensure you’re considering a range of keyword types in your SEO strategy. These keywords need to be incorporated into both on-site and off-site content in order to gain visibility in search engines.  In short, keywords set the foundation of the entire SEO campaign.

If you want help with keyword research for your SEO strategy, do get in touch. At MintTwist we love helping businesses of all sizes and industries improve their organic visibility.

Created by

Ann Smarty

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