There’s a lot that can go into creating a manageable keyword list for your website but seeing as though this is an SEO 101 post, I’m going to keep things high-level.

Why do you need a keyword list?

Many companies I speak with about SEO don’t have an established, well thought out, list of keywords around which they should be optimizing their content. A keyword list can be built with Google’s Keyword Tool fairly easily. Start with a list of 10, 20, 30 keywords that you think people would use to search for your products and services on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Then, refine your assumptions using the keyword tool so that you are using keywords that have a decent number of searches each month. The keyword tool will use the list you’ve come up with to show the volume of searches for those keywords, as well as provide additional related searches with their search volume. From there you can choose the top keywords you want to target and use within your website content.

When building your list, you should consider a few things…

  1. Be sure to pick a reasonable number of keywords. In a perfect world you’d have a website page devoted to a keyword or two. So, if you pick 50 keywords, you’d need a decent number of site pages for optimization. Narrow it down and be realistic. Remember, search engines today are good at providing search engine results that are related to the keywords a user is searching for, even if the exact word is not on the page. Most search engines are providing search results based on the searchers intent.
  2. Think like a searcher. We call this user intent and what it really means is that you need to understand what data Google is likely to show when someone searches with a keyword. While Digital C4 is rooted in digital marketing, conducting a search for that keyword turns up content mostly intended to define digital marketing. Specificity can help refine this search. Adding qualifying terms to it – Portland Digital Marketing, Digital Marketing Content Agency – helps deliver a better user experience.
  3. Populate your keyword list with some that are really competitive and hard to rank on and some that are easy to rank on. Once you start ranking on some that are easy to rank on Google tends to give you more love on those that are harder to rank on. Go figure… it’s Google! What this really means is that when your traffic improves from showing up in more searches due to ranking on easy to rank for terms, your site will have more domain authority and therefore be able to rank for more competitive terms. When starting out it’s not easy to rank well against sites that are established for a keyword or a set of keywords. Over time it’s possible, though. Keep at it.

What should you do with your keyword list?

This may sound really intuitive but you need to actually use your keywords where they are most appropriate for search engine optimization to really work. If one of your keywords is “wireless headsets”, then use it in your URL for that particular page; in the Meta title, description, H1 tag, image tags. Use it in the first paragraph of your page copy and interlink it to another page of relevance. Bold it or italicize it once in the copy. Use it more than once in the copy, but be sure to write to your audience, NOT Google.

Use your keywords in Tweets, Facebook updates, YouTube video descriptions and tags, and link the keyword back to your respective webpage. Use it wherever it makes sense… blog comments, forum posts, etc. Just be relevant and respectful.

We always recommend that our clients distribute their keyword list to their content writers and producers. If they (or you) need assistance on understanding the best way to use your keywords, get in touch with us. We can provide personalized tutorials to educate your team.

Track your keyword progress in searches

Keyword rankings are by no means the most important SEO factor, but they can be an indicator of success. We consider them to be one of the KPIs worth tracking for how we are faring in our work with clients. As part of our monthly reporting, we look at rankings in Google and Bing. We make adjustments based on these rankings and help educate clients on steps that they can take to help in these efforts.

Adjust your keyword list

A keyword list should never be static. We recommend reviewing your keyword list every 6 months or so. As we all know, SEO takes time, so be patient. But every 6 months look at the progress you’re making and refine your list accordingly.

You may find that you’re ranking in the top 5 for a few keywords on your list. You might want to put those keywords on a watch list and replace them with similar variants that aren’t ranking as well, or at all. Adjusting your keyword list periodically also means you’ll need to update your on-page SEO elements accordingly.

Building a smart, flexible keyword list is a great way to kickstart your website SEO. Need help? Interested in an SEO audit? Reach out and let us help!