As you’re optimizing your site for search, you’re going to eventually ask the big question:
What page of Google am I on?
The answer might not be as simple as you think.
Google, Where Am I?
You’ve used a search engine before, so you’re probably pretty familiar with how it works. You type in a keyword, a phrase, or a question, and the search engine shows you a list of links to webpages that you might want to see. Those links are ranked according to relevance.
Now, think about that in terms of ranking your website in Google.
When people find your website in a search engine, they’re probably not searching for your brand name, right? They’re typing in some kind of keyword that has something to do with your site.
Therefore, if you ask an SEO specialist to tell you what page of SERPS your website is on, they’ll follow up with this question:
How Search Engine Rankings Work
Search results only send people to your website when they type something into that search bar, and every time they search a different keyword or phrase, they get a different set of results.
That makes sense, right?
If you search for “marketing companies in Las Vegas,” you’re going to get a different list of results than you would if you searched for “social media marketing.” Obviously.
Here’s the thing that most people don’t think about:
Let’s imagine you’re a marketing company in Las Vegas, and one of the services you offer is social media marketing. When someone searches for marketing companies in Las Vegas, you might show up on the front page, but when that same person looks for social media marketing, maybe you’re on page 35.
That means that your website ranks on page 1, and also on page 35. You’re on different pages for different keywords.
Your website isn’t just sitting there on the interwebs waiting to be found. Google doesn’t rank websites. Google ranks webpages that are relevant to the words users type into the search bar.
That’s where keyword strategy comes in. When you optimize a blog post or a webpage, you’re optimizing for a keyword, because those keywords are what make your site appear in the search engine. If you want to know what keywords you rank for, read our follow-up post.
Not all keywords are created equal, though, and that’s where keyword strategy comes in.
[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]Google doesn’t rank websites. Google ranks relevant search results.[/tweet_box]
The Basics of Keyword Strategy
We tried to come up with a formula that combined all of those factors to calculate a standard keyword value…
We’re still working on it.
Instead of a standardized, algorithmic formula, we’re just going to give you all the factors you need to consider, and you can use your own business insights to determine which keywords are likely to be the most valuable for your business.
What Are You Doing With Your Traffic?
Once that traffic gets to your website, what needs to happen in order for your business to succeed?
Some people need big traffic numbers, and quality isn’t that important. An example of this situation is a blogger who makes money by publishing sponsored posts, and the more traffic comes to that blog each month, the more money they get for a sponsored post.
Usually, though, the quality of website traffic matters.
If you want people to join your mailing list, subscribe to your YouTube channel, buy a product, enroll in a class, or schedule an appointment, the traffic you attract to your website should be the kind of traffic that’s likely to do that. More on that later.
Setting a clear goal is important for every marketing strategy, and keyword strategy is no different.
As you’re researching potential keywords, look at the average monthly search volume for each.
By itself, a keyword’s volume doesn’t mean that much. Just because there are around 60,500 searches each month for the term “marketing” doesn’t mean there’s a big opportunity for your business to generate traffic. It only means that there are a lot of searches for that keyword.
Volume might not tell the whole story, but it’s still important.
Sometimes, you’ll have an idea for a search term you might want to target. As you do your keyword research, you might discover that the phrase you had in mind sees an average of 20 searches each month, but a very similar keyword has a search volume around 300 monthly searches. That higher volume keyword is a better idea.
The key is to consider keyword volume in conjunction with the other factors.
In a nutshell, keyword difficulty is a number from 1 to 100 that tells you how hard it is to rank in the top 10 search results for that keyword.
Calculating difficulty takes into account things like the volume of searches, the number of search results, and the SEO potency and authority of the websites that are already ranking for that keyword.
A difficult keyword is not impossible to rank for.
However, if your website is new, your SEO skills are still developing, and you need to send traffic to your website immediately, it’s a smarter strategy to optimize your site for keywords with lower difficulty.
Keyword Conversion Potential
This is one of those things that’s really, really hard to calculate. You’re going to have to make some educated guesses.
What you’re trying to figure out here is whether or not a visitor who found your site through a particular keyword is likely to convert. Sometimes, it’s obvious: the person searching for “what is Nutella” probably isn’t trying to buy a delicious chocolate hazelnut spread, while a person searching for “where to buy Nutella” is actively looking to make a purchase.
However, that doesn’t mean that the “where to buy” keyword is most likely to convert for your business. That keyword’s relevance to your brand and marketing matters, too.
In this example, let’s imagine that you sell gourmet peanut butter. The person who is curious about Nutella but not looking to buy it might be more likely to convert than the Googler who is trying to find Nutella purveyors.
A keyword with good conversion potential is specific, relevant, and well suited to your brand and marketing strategy.
Your Personal SEO Ability
Search engine optimization takes both time and skill. If you’re short on either (or both) of these, that impacts your keyword strategy.
Certain factors such as your domain age and domain authority simply take time to build up, regardless of your skill level or dedication. Even if you’re prepared to devote hours to building your skill, generating backlinks, and creating new content, it’s probably going to be a while before you can dominate the more competitive keywords.
The higher your SEO competency and the more time you can consistently devote to optimization, the better your odds of ranking for difficult keywords.
The Keyword Sweet Spot
The best keywords are high volume, high potential, low difficulty keywords.
You might optimize a blog post to rank for a high volume, an easy keyword that doesn’t have a great conversion potential because the traffic that comes to your blog probably isn’t going to make a purchase anyway. Meanwhile, you’ll probably optimize a product page for a keyword with a very high conversion potential, even if it’s a little more difficult and doesn’t have a huge search volume.
The better your insights into things like keyword value and your own capabilities, the more likely you are to generate gobs of traffic from search.
Want to know what keywords you’re already ranking for? Check out the follow-up post by clicking that link.