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When you’re on the hunt for a product, service or piece of information, what’s your first step to finding it? I’d venture to guess you’d say: “Google it.”
Google has become the most trusted source of information online, and few people will make a purchase or other type of decision without first consulting the search engine. In fact, Google currently has more than 75 percent of the search market share, according to Search Engine Journal.
While you’re likely willing to read through several articles or webpages served up as search results, most readers don’t click past the first few sources. Having your website show up in the first five results that Google lists is critical to gaining quality SEO traffic, but how do you get there?
Driving Organic Search through Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Before you begin to optimize your ranking in Google’s top results, it is important to understand organic search. Organic search refers to unpaid search results that most closely match the user’s search query based on relevance.
Organic search is important for two reasons. Not only does 51 percent of all website traffic come from organic search, but more than 40 percent of revenue is captured by organic traffic. So how can you improve your organic search ranking? The answer is: search engine optimization, or SEO for short. SEO is a method of optimizing online content to help search engines “read” and rank content based on keywords or phrases.
With optimized content, search engines can properly rank your website and ultimately help people find your company and services when they’re searching online for what you offer. Did you know that if your site comes up in an organic search as opposed to a paid search, the searcher is more likely to be open to what you are offering?
Generating SEO Traffic with Keywords
So how do you optimize content? With thoughtful placement of relevant words and phrases, you can help Google (essentially a machine) understand what it’s reading. This includes using your targeted keyword(s) in the page’s title, URL, meta description, subheads and body content. This is referred to as a keyword strategy.
Google will attempt to understand the intent behind a user’s query and find pages that match it. For example, someone might search for “red Nike men’s running shoes,” but that doesn’t mean you have to use that exact phrase repeatedly in your content. You could use those individual words in a different order in a subhead or write them into a sentence. Google will see all of the words, understand the context and rank your page high in the search results.
The rule of thumb is to write content that comprehensively addresses what your target audience might be looking for, rather than trying to repeat so-called “exact match” keywords throughout your content.
3 Steps to Improve Your SEO Traffic
Whether you’re new to SEO or looking to optimize your current strategy, you need to cover these three steps when writing website copy: identifying keywords, selecting the right ones, and writing SEO-friendly content.
1) Identify SEO Keywords for Your Industry
The first step is to come up with a list of possible keywords and phrases someone would type into Google when they’re looking for the product, service or information you are offering.
You will need to pick a unique keyword or phrase for each page on your website, including the homepage.
To help you brainstorm for keywords that are aligned with your company, industry and services, you can rely on these free helpful tools: Google Ads Keyword Planning, Yoast Google Suggest Expander and Google Analytics.
Ask yourself what your customer might search for and what questions they would ask that would lead them to your site. Also, consider the vocabulary your audience uses and avoid jargon. For example, instead of “collaboration” a better keyword might be “working together.”
2) Select the Right SEO Keywords
You may be thinking, “That’s a lot of keywords. How do I know which ones are right for my organization?” Look at these three indicators to narrow down the list: search volume, keyword competition and search trends.
- Search volume/forecasts indicate how often people are typing a specific keyword or phrase into Google each month. This tells you if your topic is very popular, more niche or somewhere in the middle. Typically, you’ll want to select keywords with a moderate to high search volume.
- Competition tells you how hard it’ll be to break into the ranks of content on the first page of Google’s search results. Highly competitive keywords mean that many other websites have quality content on the same topic, and it might be challenging for you to create more compelling content on that subject. Less competitive keywords allow you to create the first or best content on a topic and rank higher on Google.
- Search trends show you if people have been searching for a keyword more, less or the same amount over the last 15 years. We suggest selecting words that are trending upward when possible. This indicates more interest or an increasing interest over time. Words with a decreasing trend line probably mean that word is becoming less popular or important.
3) Write SEO-Friendly Content
Now that you’ve identified and selected an SEO keyword or phrase for each page of your website, content development comes next. This applies to brand-new websites with no existing content and also to existing websites where the content might need to be edited, updated or expanded.
The main priority for SEO-friendly content focuses on quality. Overall, focus on answering your searcher’s questions and helping them find what they are looking for – not overloading your text with keywords.
Here are some ways to write SEO-friendly content:
- Prioritize keyword usage in the Page Title, URL, Meta Description, Subheads and Body Copy. If you’re struggling to write a keyword into the copy naturally, consider phrasing the keyword as a question.
- Aim for enough words/content to sufficiently answer the searcher’s question.
- Make sure there’s a clear call-to-action or next step on every page, such as having a link to related content on your website.
You might think after you’ve established your SEO strategy and seen positive results that you can stick with your SEO plan indefinitely. However, the SEO process is continuous and constantly evolving within the digital landscape. Optimizing SEO requires ongoing research, analysis and refinement. Ultimately, SEO is a continuous learning process that transforms with your business and your audience.
Download our SEO Writing Guideline for step-by-step assistance with your own web content development.