For a search engine to grant your site maximum viewership, it isn’t as easy as giving the search engine some flowers. Instead, you can optimize how well your site is promoted in search engines through SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. SEO lets search engine bots know that your site is a) reputable, b) highly searched, and c) aligned with interests of the web searcher. These bots aren’t trained to pick up every piece of juicy content your site has to offer, but it can recognize buzzwords, called “keywords”, that notify bots that your site is worthy of promotion to the top of a search page. For a better look at some of this terminology, read our previous blog “SEO for Dummies”.
Performing a Keyword Search
To initiate your keyword search, you need to understand what "search terms" your target audience would use. Search terms are the phrases that one enters directly into a search engine, like Google. If these search terms match the keywords on your website, your website has a higher chance of being promoted to the top of the search results. Thus keywords and search terms are the lock and key to a successfully rated page in an internet search.
To maximize your organic reach to quality viewers, use the steps below to guide yourself through the thought process of curating keywords that match your content to search terms.
1) Put yourself into the mindset of your customer. Who is your customer? What would they search to find you? These may be search terms that reference a product/service type, brand, category, solution, or need. There isn't one "end all, be all" customer. The beauty of the process is being able to work through these steps with may different types of customers in mind.
For example, one of STEM·E's target customers are middle-school students, interested in STEM. However, parents are often the ones searching for STEM after school programs. Therefore, some search terms might be: STEM, STEM programs, STEM after school programs, STEM after school programs near me, STEM classes, STEM workshops, STEM education.
2) Take the list you generated above and develop a list of keywords for each search term. Start with just one search term and perform a Google search to find a list of associated terms. Using these results, search these new terms until you have a multitude of possible keywords.
3) Next, use a keyword search volume tool, such as https://searchvolume.io/. This tool will inform you how many searches are performed monthly for each searched keyword. Search volume results will help refine the keywords used in your webpage, alt-text, page titles, descriptions, header tags, and eventually google ads. To freshen up on your SEO terminology, read our previous blog “SEO for Dummies”.
4) While bigger names will get more search engine promotion because of their repute, there still is a way to demonstrate reputability to bots. Within your topic search, begin thinking about narrower topics that will be searched by your niche. While you may not be the first website to appear when someone searches “STEM”, it is possible to become the first search under “What is the best time to learn STEM?” Right from the get-go of your keyword search, it is vital to begin thinking about your target audience. The words you use to target Bob, who is just looking for a fun read, are not the same words that you would use to target Kyle, who knows everything there is to know about your topic and is looking for a new perspective. Hone these differences in viewers to your advantage. What words would they be searching for? Finding the right viewer is important to obtain, more than just a click, but rather someone who clicks into your concept. These are the people who will continue to search and research your site, growing and maintaining your audience as a content producer.
5) Make variations of the terms you searched in Step 2 to find the most highly searched words. While “learn STEM” and “STEM education” mean roughly the same thing, STEM education has nearly 10,000 more searches per month. Even a simple "s" or space can make all the difference. Thinking about the minute details - syntax, grammar, spellings, pluralities, etc. - is where you will find the sweet spot of brand identity. This process may be tedious at times, but there's nothing more rewarding than more impressions, higher click-through rate, and increased conversions with your target audience.
Analyzing, Interpreting, and Integrating the Results
For this step, draw back upon the aforementioned ABCs of SEO keywords. The criteria for keywords are a) reputable, b) highly searched and c) something that aligns with your audience. Making a decision based upon which keywords are the most highly searched is only considering ⅓ of the important factors. For making your final selection of words to use, reexamine what your target audience is looking for. To become reputable as a smaller name, become the most reputable in your niche with longer phrases that best match searches, rather than trying to vie for a top position with a “fat-headed” keyword.
Integrating your best-suited words is the easiest step, for keywords can be inserted in every place that you write. This includes page titles, meta descriptions, subheadings, within body text, alt image text, URLs, and in outbound marketing like external listings or social media. If you are having trouble putting your keywords into what you write and you find that it is sounding awkward, that is a good indicator that your keywords aren’t entirely reflective of your message. Not to fret, SEO is a process of trial and error. With that comes continual improvement and rerouting.