Guest writer: Wendy Goodwin
This month we have a guest writer – Wendy Goodwin of Starcatcher Creative. Wendy is an SEO Consultant and Web Developer in Portland, Oregon. She became passionate about search engine optimization after applying SEO to her music website and experiencing unprecedented growth. She loves empowering small businesses to succeed by increasing their online presence through the wisdom of data research and analysis. When not deep in code, Wendy enjoys hiking, roasting her own coffee, playing the violin and spending time with her family.
As a small business owner in 2018, how do you get in front of your target audience, thereby increasing awareness, loyalty and revenue? One of the best ways is through SEO, and specifically, smart application of keywords on your website.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are the search queries that people type into search engines as well as social media platforms. To put it more simply, they are the exact phrases that people “Google” relevant to your business when browsing online.
. If you want your website to show up at the top of the page of results, (and of course you do!), you need to know exactly what those search phrases are and thoughtfully incorporate them into your website’s content both in the actual information and on the technical side of things as well.
Find the Top Keywords
The exact search phrase is really important when it comes to selecting the keywords to incorporate in your site. Many times, people are not Googling what you think they are. For example, let’s say you run a pet hotel. “Pet Hotel” of course is a good place to start in keyword selection but check out the following average monthly search volume for several related terms:
“Pet Hotel”: 260 searches per month
“Dog Boarding”: 1600 searches per month
“Dog Daycare Near Me” 880 searches per month
As you can see, while you might like the aesthetic of “pet hotel,” it receives just 1/6 of the searches compared to “dog boarding.” It is important to know the data surrounding people’s search queries so that you can make an informed decision about the keywords that you opt to use.
Factor in the Competition
Search volume by itself could guide you in the wrong direction. Let’s take an extreme example. Let’s say you own an apple orchard and you want to advertise your fruit stand. An obvious word might seem like “apple” because it’s what you sell.
There is just one problem. With an average monthly search volume of nearly 17 billion, “apple” is already firmly connected to Apple computers. 5 million monthly visitors to www.apple.com keep the keyword “apple” as a forbidden fruit when it comes to promoting your orchard. You can use “apple” all day long and your website will never rank for that particular keyword.
Not to worry, there are plenty of other options. In this case, the keyword “Apple Orchard” rings in at an average monthly search volume of 210. While that’s nowhere near 17 billion, if you could reach 200 new customers a month through the right word choice, would it be worth your effort?
All you need to do is be smart about your selection of keywords and you’ll have a great foundation for optimizing your website content.
Get Local with Your Keyword Strategy
For many businesses, especially brick and mortar establishments, a local presence is going to be particularly beneficial. In the example of our apple orchard, making sure that the business address is on the website and that a Google business profile has been created helps target the exact demographic of people who would actually become customers. You want to cue the search engines in on what you offer and the location that you offer it in. This factor is so significant that Google actually generally defaults to local businesses in search results. Ever try to find a local business when you’re not in that locality? The emphasis on locality is why you may get results populated by your own location instead of the one you intended.
How to Use Keywords on Your Website
We’ve all visited those websites where every other word is . . . well, the keyword. They are gross and annoying AND in fact, not helping anyone out. They may even be flagged as spam and deprioritized by search engines. Here are three guidelines for effective use of keywords on your site:
#1: Use your most important keyword in the title of your page.
#2: Use your keyword in the first few sentences of copy on your page if at all possible. Make it read well for humans but remember that the placement of the keyword early on will help the search engines identify your site.
#3: Use complimentary words that have the same meaning as your keyword so that you don’t flood the page with the search query to the point that it looks like spam.
#4: Choose a different keyword target for each page of your website. In the apple orchard example, here’s an example of selected keywords:
- Apple Orchard (210 monthly visitors)
- U Pick Farms (480 monthly visitors)
- Apple Picking (260 monthly visitors)
Remember, you need to use the exact keyword or phrase for this to be effective.
Think about side services that you offer along with your main focus. For example, the keyword “apple cider” registers 390 for average monthly search. Perhaps you could add a page to your website dedicated to recipes for apples and use “apple cider” as your keyword for that page.
The reason we often use the phrase “SEO Strategy” is because there’s no surefire path to guaranteed success. Even after carefully researching your keywords and implementing them into your site, it’s possible that the approach won’t bring the results you want. In that case, adjust your keyword implementation and see if you get better results. Remember that it takes time…sometimes months to see the full effect of SEO on a website so be careful not to make changes too soon.
A professional SEO consultant will do this type of research on your behalf and then provide careful monitoring of the website’s performance, adjusting the implementation as needed.
SEO specialists dig deep into the data to provide strong metrics that will guide your decision making when it comes to your website content.
If you are serious about growing your business, the actual content of your website is extremely important. Take the time to learn what your customers and clients are searching for online and use that valuable data to craft your page content and keyword placement. Combine well crafted content with a beautifully designed WordPress website and you are setting yourself up for success!
Wendy Goodwin of Starcatcher Creative is an SEO Consultant and Web Developer in Portland, Oregon. She became passionate about search engine optimization after applying SEO to her music website and experiencing unprecedented growth. She loves empowering small businesses to succeed by increasing their online presence through the wisdom of data research and analysis. When not deep in code, Wendy loves hiking, roasting her own coffee, playing the violin and spending time with her family.