Step 1: Do your keyword research!
Search engines list your website based on many things, but choosing your keywords based on what people are ACTUALLY searching for (vs. guessing) is the start of this process.
- To research your keywords we recommend you first setup an Adwords account using your google login (you will have to give over payment details, setup a fake campaign and then cancel the campaign so be careful or you will get charged $50). Then go to this link for the Google’s Keyword Planner. This can also be found under Tools in the top right menu and then choose Keyword Planner from the pulldown submenu under Planning. Click the first option to “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas” and enter into the first field ONLY what you THINK someone might possibly type in to search for your products/services. Don’t bother filling in anything else and scroll to bottom of page to click Get Ideas button.
- On next page, be sure to click the Keyword Ideas tab which will show you results of what people are ACTUALLY typing in. Look first at the Average Monthly Searches column to get a sense for what keywords are more popular. Then look at the Competition column to see how competitive these keywords are, meaning if your competitors’ sites are competing for these keywords as well. The IDEAL keywords would have high monthly searches with low competition, but that doesn’t mean you can’t seek out the others too!
- Start selecting the keyword phrases that are specific and therefore more targeted (NOT general) to your service/product. PLEASE read this article from Yoast on “7 Keyword Research Mistakes You Should Avoid“ which covers how to recognize unrealistic & irrelevant keywords, researching singular vs. plural keywords, using more specific long tail keywords to get more targeted traffic, evaluate whether your keywords are successful, and focusing on only one keyword per post/page. I think you will find that article super helpful!
- To help you decide which keyword to choose, you could:
- search for the keyphrase in Google to see what comes up as suggestions in the search bar,
- see what displays in the search results itself (in the page title and descriptions of your competitor listings),
- see what suggestions display at the bottom of the search results page under “Searches Related to…”,
- and try searching for what terms are popular for your keyphrase with Google Trends.
- You will need to research keywords for each and every webpage that you want to optimize. Go to Step 2 to learn how to implement this keyword research into your pages and write proper meta data.
Step 2: Optimize your web pages with page titles, URLs, and descriptions using your keywords
It is recommended that you customize each and every page on your website with different keywords in your page titles, descriptions, and URLS. See screenshot below of where all this stuff will go so you can make sense of it.
- First, download our Website SEO Keyword Research (word document), open in a text editor, and replace page names with your sitemap pages. This will help guide you moving forward.
- Start filling in each page (leaving the Home page for last) with your keyword phrases specific to that page. Then highlight the focus keyword phrase for each and every page that you want to optimize the most. The rest will be considered your “supporting keywords” and should be used as well.
- Write your Page Titles for each and every page, using the focus keyword phrase you highlighted and your company name placed before or after (limit to 5-7 words or 1 line or 60 characters of text per page). If you want to target a specific location then add that to your page title too. This is what shows in Google’s search results.
Ex. Asheville web designer, web developer, e-newsletter designers – Evolv
- Write your permalink/slug/URL for each and every page, using your focus keyword. Replace all spaces with dashes, use only lowercase, and remove any ampersands or extra characters. You do not need one for the homepage since this is just your domain name. You can include your locality if that is important.
- Write your Page Descriptions for each and every page, using the focus keyword phrase (limit to 2 lines of text or 160 characters per page). This will show up underneath your page titles in Google’s search results and should be a teaser to draw people in to your site. However, it does not necessarily make that much of a difference in your ranking, but Google will highlight in bold the keywords that match up to someone’s search. You can include your locality if that is important, and also add a call-to-action to help entice prospects to click on your listing.
Ex. Web consulting, web design and web development, newsletter design, and website training for small businesses. Over 15 years experience, Located in Asheville, NC
- To explain what keywords you need to focus on for each and every page, keep the following in mind:
- First, your homepage should have the most link popularity of all pages, which means you can optimize it for the most general and competitive phrases.
- At the second level are pages linked to from your global navigation menu. These are usually top-level products or services pages. You can optimize these for fairly competitive keyword terms relating to the category itself.
- The third level is often the specific product or service pages themselves. They can be optimized for the names of the products or services.
- The fourth level often consists of your value-added content such as blog posts, articles, videos, podcasts, etc. These are often the basis for your content marketing campaigns. They help establish expertise as well as credibility within your industry. Plus, they’re great for bringing in lots of search engine visitors using long-tail keyword search queries. While these pages may not have lots of internal links, they are often your best bet for gaining external links.
- Add this info to your CMS wherever they allow you to update your SEO! We recommend you use Yoast plugin for WordPress websites because it gives you valuable immediate feedback on whether you have implemented the focus keyword appropriately through the page, even within your content which is the next step below