The first step in any SEO strategy is to do some research to work out what key phrases you need to promote your website with. What makes you stand out from the crowd? What searches are your target audience making? And how do you optimise your website for them?
What are your goals?
The first question to ask yourself is: what are your goals? Are you simply looking to build brand awareness, or do you want to sell more products? What products are you selling? Are they high or low value? Are they sold online (ecommerce) or offline? Like any marketing campaign, different goals require different strategies – in this case, different keywords and different content, created for different target audiences.
Who is your target audience?
Now you are clear on your aims, who is the target audience you need to reach to achieve them? Build up profiles of your ideal customers – what is their age? Gender? Income? What are their interests?
If you’re targeting business customers, what are the job titles of the people you need to reach? What are their responsibilities? What are they trying to achieve that you can help them to do better?
You will use this information to help determine what your targets are likely to be searching for, so you can optimise your content. You can also use it as part of a larger online/offline marketing campaign.
Next, you need to find out what keywords and phrases you could optimise for. Start by brainstorming all the terms and phrases you think your target audience might be searching for, based on the interests and goals you identified above. You can also use online tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Keyword Tool to get additional suggestions.
Then use the AdWords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to identify which terms searchers use most often. There’s no point optimising for a phrase no-one uses – unless it’s something brand new that’s likely to become popular.
Also consider how much competition there is for each term. Again, the Keyword Planner will give you an idea of this (although it is focused on AdWords campaigns rather than natural searches). You can also search for each term to see who you’re competing against, and check their PageRanks to see how competitive they are.
Choose your keywords
There are two types of keywords you can optimise for – head terms, which are generic terms such as “socks”, and long-tail terms, which are more specific search phrases such as “socks with dogs on them”. Head terms will draw a bigger audience, so they are good if your aim is to build brand awareness. However, it is much easier to optimise for long-tail terms because there is less competition – and the conversion rate is higher because they generate much warmer leads.
You should pick a small number of search terms to optimise for initially. 5-10 different phrases, each with a reasonable search volume, is a good starting point – with a mixture of head and long-tail terms to suit your goals.
Over time you can add more key phrases to the mix, so you might want to prioritise the remaining terms now. These should be introduced at a steady rate over time, not all at once, to appear more natural (less like spam) and keep your content fresh.