Did you know that 95% of search traffic goes to the first page of Google search results? This means that if your site is not ranked in the top 10 results for your target keywords, many people will not find or visit it. Enter search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is designed to optimize your website for all the qualities that Google rewards, promoting it to higher positions in search results.
And at the heart of that process is keyword implementation. But how can you make your chosen keywords rank at the top of search results? To get started, you can follow the simple eight-step process below to make sure your keywords really work for you.
Start with keyword research
When you’re ready to get started, it’s time to find some keywords to use! There are a few different ways to approach this. The simplest is to choose a term relevant to your industry and type it into the Google search bar without pressing Enter.
Take a look at Google Autocomplete results. This will give you a good idea of the related keywords and phrases people are searching for, and you can use the results to start building your target keyword list. However, for a deeper look at good keyword choices, there are several keyword tool options to choose from.
Some of these options are:
- Google Keyword Planner
- keywords everywhere
Each one can suggest a wide variety of keywords based on an initial phrase.
Narrow down your keyword list
Once you have a good supply of results from your keyword research, start narrowing down your keyword list. To rank for keywords, you need to choose phrases that are relevant to your business, relatively high in search volume, and relatively low in competition.
If your business is a farmers’ market, you can start your search with terms related to the food products you sell, such as “apple.” But you don’t want to use every related keyword you find.
“Apple cider”? Of course. “Apple Software Update”?
Probably not. Likewise, you don’t want to target a keyword like “corn.” Broad and short tail keywords have more competition, making it difficult to rank at the top of search results. You would have to be very authoritative to get into those top rankings.
Instead, look for a bit more specific or long-tail keywords like “buy sweet corn near me.” Long-tail keywords generally have less competition and it’s easier to decipher the search intent of more specific phrases, which brings us to our next point.
Research competitor keywords and content
As you complete your keyword research and keyword marketing plan, you may come across some great things, but don’t forget: that having great content isn’t enough. You need to have better content than your competitors, or at least more optimized content. To make sure your content stays at the top, take a look at what’s currently ranking for your chosen keywords.
Check out a few articles there and take a look at what your competitors are doing. Make sure you do all the good things they are doing but make it even better. A great tool for this is Competitor SpyFX, which analyzes your competitors’ websites for everything from content marketing to user experience.
Use good on-page SEO strategies
This post may be specifically about keywords, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the other aspects of on-page SEO. Understanding how to rank for keywords requires an understanding of SEO as a whole. When writing your content, apply as many SEO best practices as you can.
Use attractive, keyword-optimized title tags and meta descriptions. Structure the content using titles and lists. Above all, make sure your content matches search intent and is useful to users.
After all, Google wants to rank content that offers the best user experience (UX).
Analyze the ranking of your keywords
Once your content is published and ranked in search results, your job is not done. The final step is to go back and measure the results. See the success of your content to learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
You have tools at your disposal for this task. Just as you can use Google Keyword Planner to find keywords, you can use Google Analytics to measure their effect on your website. By setting up your site with Analytics, you can track user traffic on your content pages to see how effective they are.
Other great tools for monitoring keyword rankings are Ahrefs and MarketingCloudFX.