First step to Organic SEO Growth - Keywords

It is unrealistic to expect a new website to receive thousands of hits within its first couple of months of life unless you want to pay for it through pay-per-click advertising.  Doing so can be costly and will drain your marketing budget faster than you can say “conversion.”  A proper website looks to increase its organic hits through proper keyword usage.   So when you get those emails promising the number one spot in Google in a matter of days you should just delete them.  Yes, you may very well hit the number one spot, but likely only for a couple of days before you get penalized for black-hat SEO practices and disappear from Google completely.

Black-hat vs White-hat

Black-hat and white-hat refers to the old Western movies where the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys always wore black hats.  If a new character came on stage you knew immediately if he was a bad guy.  We use this basic definition to describe different SEO practices that are either ethical or unethical.  Link buying, keyword stuffing, invisible text, and doorway pages are all ways to get you banned.  Black-hatters offer up quick results for a lot of money but those results quickly disappear.  The old proverb of “If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is” comes into play when dealing with SEO.  Rarely is good SEO an overnight success.

Don’t fret that you will have to work a bit for good SEO.  It is not difficult to get good organic SEO growth and it will reduce your total advertising and marketing budget.  Large organizations like P&G (think Old Spice) have begun to reduce their traditional marketing budgets in favour of web and mobile based advertising.  While they tend to focus on social media, it is an acknowledgement that both social and organic SEO is an important aspect to any advertising approach.

Where to Start

Organic SEO begins with understanding the keywords for your market and finding a niche within.  There are many different premium services that you can subscribe to that help you to find the right keywords.  I will focus on a free tool and using Google to help find your initial domain keywords.  The goal is to find keywords that are searched for many times a day and that have few Google hits, or results, for the same keywords.

You can start with a free tool like Wordtracker’s SEO Blogger which is a FireFox plugin that helps you understand what people are searching for.  Imagine you were selling sofas.  Typing it in returns decent searches for sofa, sofa beds, sleeper sofas, and art deco sofas.  Your next step is to search for the keyword you are hoping to use.  Let’s pick art deco sofas.  Google has two commands that help refine our searches as we really only care about those pages with “art deco sofas” in the title and the URL.  The command allintitle: “art deco sofas” returns 8,660 results and the command allinurl: “art deco sofas” returns 7,290 results.  This means that we are likely competing against roughly 7,000 other pages on the web but a quick scan of the first page of results will show that it should be easy to get good hits with this keyword as few are selling actual art deco sofas.  Using this keyword in your domain name will also greatly increase your rankings.

That seems like a lot of work considering there are thousands of variants.  There are premium services that can do this for you in minutes that will help you create your keyword rich domain names and keywords for your web pages, but free is also a viable option when starting out.

You’ll notice that I didn’t suggest we go after the keyword sofa that had the most searches.  That is because you want to use long-tailed keywords.  People searching for sofa are not ready to purchase a sofa.  They are just beginning to search for what they want.  You want the people who are looking to purchase.  “Art Deco Sofa” is closer to a buyers search.  “Red Art Deco Sofa” would be even better.  The goal is to go for the keywords where there is not a lot of competition and that gets you the type of visitors that are going to buy something from you instead of just bouncing out of your website.

Keywords & Copywriting

Once you have your list of keywords the next step is to include the appropriate keyword mix in your content to sell your product.  Your content must be human readable first, and then you should think of the search engines.  This ensures that you are not keyword stuffing.  A properly worded copy will make the search engines pay attention.  Just don’t forget to include proper header tags, meta-keywords, and meta-descriptions to your pages to increase the chances your pages are read.

The next post in the SEO series will talk about link building strategies so that you have websites pointing to your product pages utilizing your newly created keywords.

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