How to Optimize Your Marketing Keywords for Effective SEO

Written on
August 21, 2020
by
Matt Wilson
in
Keyword Research
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Make the Most of Your Marketing Keywords

Marketing keywords form the foundation of an effective SEO strategy. Knowing where and how to use them can boost your search engine rankings, draw more traffic to your website and set the stage for higher sales conversions. Here’s how to incorporate your marketing keywords into your promotional strategy, your on-site and off-site SEO and your social media profiles.

Where and How to Incorporate Your Marketing Keywords

Your keywords enter into your digital marketing strategy in four key places:

  1. Content strategizing
  2. On-site SEO
  3. Off-site link building
  4. Social media profiles

Each of these elements builds on the previous ones. Let’s dive deeper into how to incorporate your keywords into each of these components and how to make them fit together into a unified SEO strategy.

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1. Content Strategizing

Keyword research plays a foundational role in developing your content marketing strategy. Content marketing revolves around picking topics which will make your brand appeal to your target audience. Finding the keywords your audience is searching on will help you express your topics in a way that reaches your intended market. Having a list of target keywords will also help you brainstorm additional topics and keywords to expand your SEO outreach. This can help you reach a wider audience, draw niche audiences and increase traffic to your site.

Keyword Selection

To begin the keyword selection process, start by brainstorming a list of major topics which you think your audience might search on that would lead them to your site. A preliminary list of topics can include:

  • Your company name
  • Names of your products and services
  • Major topics in your site menu structure
  • Major topics in your blog category and tag lists

Once you have a list of initial keywords, you can begin expanding it through market research. Start by researching other sites, blogs and social media profiles in your industry to see what keywords are popular. Research what keywords your competition is already targeting.

You can now enter your expanded list into a keyword research tool. This will generate a list of suggested keyword terms related to your initial terms. Export this list into a spreadsheet program or app and begin filtering your results.

First, you can filter out items which are not relevant to your brand. You can then identify items which must be included, such as the name of your company and items which are essential for your site’s navigational structure. From your remaining list, you can score items based on three key criteria:

  • Search volume: how many people are searching on this keyword phrase?
  • Competition: how hard it is to rank on the first page of search engine results for this keyword phrase?
  • Value: what are advertisers bidding for this keyword phrase?

An ideal keyword combination has high volume, low competition and high value. However, some highly competitive phrases may be necessary for your industry, while some low-volume phrases may be useful for long-tailed keywords which target niche audiences. Use your discretion to evaluate keywords.

From Keywords to Content Production

Once you've completed your keyword analysis and you have a list of target terms, you can rank them in order of priority. You can then plan a content creation and publication schedule and begin developing a list of topics which correspond to your keyword list. For best results, target one primary keyword string per piece of content.

Set goals for how much content you plan to produce per week, month or quarter based on your marketing objectives, personnel resources and budget. In general, you should produce content at a consistent rate of output. However, in some situations, you may wish to accelerate production. For instance, if you’re planning the release of a new product or service, you may increase your output on topics and keywords relevant to your forthcoming launch.

2. On-site SEO

The keyword research you do for content planning can also be used to optimize your on-site SEO, also known as on-page SEO. You can improve your SEO performance by working target keywords into important spots on your website. These include:

  • Your site name
  • URL structure for pages on your site
  • Site navigational menus
  • Title tags for pages and posts
  • Meta descriptions
  • Snippets
  • Headers on pages and posts
  • Body text of pages and posts
  • Blog category names
  • Blog tag names
  • Alt tags and file names for multimedia files

When working keywords into web pages and blog posts, focus on one primary keyword per content piece. Avoid creating two pieces with the same primary keyword focus, so that you don’t pit two pages on your site against each other competing for search engine attention. However, you can use a primary keyword from one page or post as a secondary keyword on another.

Wherever you use keywords on your site, avoid “stuffing” keywords. This is the practice of artificially inserting a long list of keywords onto a page whether they fit grammatically or not in the hopes of gaming your SEO results. This can hurt your content’s readability, and may get you flagged by Google. Strive to work your keywords in organically so that they sound natural.

Best Practices to Support On-site SEO

For best results, on-site keyword use should be supported by other on-site SEO best practices. These include:

  • A navigational structure which makes it easy for search engines to crawl your site and identify what’s important without running into broken links
  • A content organizational hierarchy which prioritizes the main pages on your site by using major hubs to group related topics
  • An indexing strategy which uses noindex to prevent search engines from indexing duplicate content such as posts filed under categories and archives
  • A mobile-friendly design which loads quickly on smartphones

Following these practices will help ensure that your on-site keyword efforts bear fruit.

3. Off-site Link Building

For off-site SEO, keywords play an important role in link-building. Both the number of backlinks pointing towards your site and the authority of sites linking to yours influence your search engine rankings. One way Google evaluates your backlinks is by which terms are used in anchor text pointing towards pages and posts on your site. Keywords used in anchor text help Google interpret what your pages and posts are about and whether they are relevant to a given search term.

At one time, Google’s algorithm favored anchor text with keyword phrases which formed an exact match with a page’s primary keyword. However, some marketers misused this knowledge to game the system, so Google began imposing an over-optimization penalty against sites deemed to be artificially distributing exact-match anchor text backlinks. Google’s artificial intelligence has also gotten better at interpreting anchor text in the context of other keywords relevant to a given keyword, so that exact-match phrases are not as essential for identifying what a page or post is about. However, Google’s algorithm does still take exact-match phrases into account when they are relevant.

Today, SEO experts recommend using a blend of exact-match phrases with other types of anchor text, with an emphasis on non-exact anchor text:

  • For the bulk of your backlinks (say about 90%), use natural language, mention of your brand or URLs to link to your site
  • For a small handful of backlinks (less than 10%), use partial-match keywords
  • For an even smaller number of backlinks (less than 5%), use exact-match keywords

The percentages used here are not a hard formula, but a rule of thumb to give you some practical guidelines. These guidelines apply to backlinks which you point towards your own site. In many cases, other sites will link to yours without your involvement. You will notice that when this happens, sites linking back to yours will use a variety of anchor text phrases.

This is the type of normal behavior that Google wants to see in your own backlinks as well. What Google would flag as suspicious would be if virtually every site linking back to yours used exactly the same anchor text. However, in some cases, this is natural, and Google can recognize this. For instance, it is natural for many sites to use the anchor text “iPhone 11” to link back to Apple’s website. The upshot is to use relevant natural language in your backlinks, with a small percentage of exact-match and partial-match keywords.

4. Social Media Profiles

Another place you can incorporate keywords is your social media profiles. Google does not place much weight on links from social media posts, so using keywords on social media profiles will not have much direct effect on your SEO. However, the keywords and surrounding language you use can influence whether or not human readers click on your backlinks, which can indirectly increase your traffic and affect your SEO.

You can incorporate keywords into several places on your social media profiles, including:

  • Profile names
  • Profile descriptions
  • Profile backlinks
  • Language in posts
  • Backlinks in posts
  • Multimedia captions, descriptions, alt text and file names

With social media backlinks, as with backlinks in general, place a higher emphasis on relevant natural language than on exact-match phrases.

Optimize Your Marketing Keywords to Maximize Your SEO Results

Putting the right keywords in the right places can increase your search engine visibility and boost your traffic, helping drive more opt-ins and sales conversions. An experienced digital marketing agency can help you identify the best keywords for your marketing goals and develop an SEO strategy which puts them to optimal use. SimpleTiger helps B2B SaaS companies increase organic traffic to get more unique visitors to your site. To learn more, take a few minutes to fill out our online form and schedule a discovery call to talk to our experts about how we can increase your traffic.

Simply effective marketing.