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Search Engine Optimization is a very complex topic that involves every aspect of your site.  The main areas of SEO are building a crawl friendly site, developing content that is relevant to your visitors, and keyword research and targeting.  SEO is also marketing, sales, branding, advertising, analytics, social media and just about anything that touches your website.  With that said, today I am just going to focus on the keyword research side of SEO.

For many of my clients, Organic search traffic accounts for a very large portion of the overall traffic to their website. This type of traffic is important because it can indicate that these visitors are at some point in the buying process. My experiences, as an online buyer, seller and Account Manager, have shown that to be up for consideration in the information gathering, comparison or purchasing phase, websites should show up on the first few pages of the search engine results. Makes sense, right? The websites with the higher rankings are generally the most relevant to the words/phrases that were typed into the search box (aka “keywords”). One of the factors that can affect how well a site’s pages can rank for particular Keywords is whether or not the pages have been properly optimized for these keywords.  That said, a crucial step in the SEO journey is to perform keyword research to determine which keywords to optimize for that would have the greatest potential for visibility, to gain high rankings and drive the most relevant traffic to the website.

Keyword research is a very intricate process, and is not an exact science.  However, if done correctly, it can provide some of the highest returns out of any SEO activity.  In general, some of the “best practices” that Cazbah Account Managers follow when it comes to conducting keyword research include:

  • Brainstorming
    • Develop an initial list of keywords that are relevant to the existing content. Each page should have different words or phrases that help describe what the page is all about, and these should serve as a good starting point.
    • Since we’re optimizing to help attract customers, it’s also important to think about things from a customer’s viewpoint. We place ourselves in the potential customer’s shoes and leverage our clients’ knowledge to determine what terms a customer might use to search for their product/service. It’s helpful to explore other the possibility that a customer might refer to something differently than someone that works in the industry.
    • Expand on the initial list of keywords with suggestion tools. At Cazbah, we have access to a variety of tools that provide us with insight regarding keywords (related to those on our initial list) that are popular within any given industry.
  • Identifying “long-tail” keywords
    • “Long-tail” keywords are specific, or targeted, search phrases that visitors are likely to use as they get further along in the buying process. Focusing on “long-tail” keywords is important for small businesses, since competition can be fierce for the more common “top” keywords. Targeting “long-tail” keywords may result in a lower overall quantity of traffic, but can also attract higher quality visitors that are more likely to convert.
    • Below is a graph, created by Moz, that illustrates the “Search Demand Curve”. As you can see, focusing on “long-tail” keywords gives us the opportunity to rank highly for 70% of the searches on the web, which may have little to no competition, to garner traffic with greater relevancy to the products and/or services offered.

    The Search Demand Curve

    (Source: Moz.com)

  • Collecting and Analyzing Data
    • As previously stated, Cazbah Account Managers have access to a variety of tools that can provide us with data for keywords, such as:
      • Volume – The # of times a keyword has been searched for in a given time period.
      • Competition – The amount of competitors vying for the same keyword.
      • Keyword Effectiveness – The likelihood that the keyword will be successful in driving traffic to a website, based on supply and demand.
    • Using the data collected for each keyword, the list of potential keywords will then be narrowed down (if necessary). Search engine best practice guidelines dictate that there is a limit to adhere to regarding the number of keywords that should be optimized for, per page. Cazbah Account Managers use the data collected, as well as their experience, to determine the most effective keywords to use.

As previously mentioned, Keyword research is a complicated process that requires a lot of time and effort from those performing the research, but it’s an integral part of SEO. Once keywords have been identified, each page on the website can be optimized accordingly.  This isn’t a “one-and-done” process either. It’s something that should constantly be reviewed, especially as shifts occur within a client’s industry. That said, Cazbah Account Managers are ever-vigilant and are well-equipped to bring the many different aspects of SEO together for the betterment of our clients’ businesses.

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