Keyword optimization (also known as keyword research) is the act of researching, analyzing and selecting the best keywords to target to drive qualified traffic from search engines to your website.
Keyword search optimization is a critical step in initial stages of search engine marketing, for both paid and organic search. If you do a bad job at selecting your target keywords, all your subsequent efforts will be in vain. So it’s vital to get keyword optimization right.
But optimizing keywords isn’t something you do ONLY at the outset of a search marketing campaign. Ongoing keyword optimization is necessary to keep uncovering new keyword opportunities and to expand your reach into various keyword verticals. So keyword optimization isn’t a set it and forget it process. By continuously performing keyword analysis and expanding your database of keywords, your site traffic, leads and sales will continue to grow.
Benefits of Keyword Optimization
In a recent survey, participants listed keyword optimization as one of the hardest tasks in search engine marketing. Because of its difficult nature, most site owners, marketers, and bloggers don’t spend enough time optimizing keywords. This is ironic since optimizing keywords is the most important aspect of SEO and PPC. If you don’t choose and use keywords your customers are searching for, you won’t get found. That means no traffic, no sales, no money.
So to look at the big picture, you must practice search engine keyword optimization to:
- Drive qualified traffic to your website: To drive searchers to your site, you must optimize for the keywords they’re searching for
- Measure traffic potential: Analyzing the popularity of keywords helps you gauge the size of a potential online market.
- Write effective content: By incorporating optimized keywords into your website content, you can connect instantly with potential customers and address their needs.
- Understand user behavior: By analyzing the words that your customers use, you get an idea of their needs and how to service those needs.
PPC Keyword Optimization
But optimized keywords aren’t just for organic search marketing. There’s tremendous value in optimizing your PPC keywords. To be effective with your pay-per-click campaigns, you must speak the searcher’s language. The more keywords you select that your customers are searching for, the more traffic you’ll drive to your website, the more consumers you’ll convert to customers.
- Creating a keyword list: Determining which keywords to target and bid on is the linchpin for all your PPC marketing strategies. Different keywords have different demand and traffic potential.
- Grouping and segmenting: Keyword optimization helps organize your keywords into tight groups that are semantically related.
- Improved relevancy: The key to a higher click-through rate is being relevant to the searcher’s query. Higher CTR leads to better Quality Score. Optimized keywords are instrumental in being relevant.
- Crafting ad text: To coax searchers into clicking on your ads, you need to integrate your keywords into your PPC ad text.
- Landing page optimization: Once a user lands on your page, your message must match the offer. So the optimized keywords that were present in your ad text, must be present on your landing pages.
You can take your PPC optimization further by evaluating your AdWords account with the AdWords Performance Grader, which grades your campaigns on important factors like ad text and long-tail keyword optimization
Social Media Keyword Optimization
Determining which keywords to target and how to incorporate them into your messaging is also a big factor in social media marketing. This guide to Keyword Research for Social Media is a good resource for determining which keywords your audience is using and covers everything from how to conduct keyword research for YouTube to researching keywords for Facebook.
What to Evaluate When Optimizing Keywords
When determining which keywords to choose for your optimizations efforts, there are a number of factors you should evaluate.
Keyword Popularity – The more popular a keyword is (meaning the more that people search for it), the more traffic it will drive to your website, should you rank highly for it, that is. When it comes to choosing keywords based on popularity, there are two lines of thinking.
- Target the most popular keywords. This seems pretty straightforward. If you want to attract the most visitors to your website, you should optimize for the most searched for keywords. Right? But the more popular a keyword is, the harder it is to rank for.
- Target less competitive keywords. It may seem counterintuitive to go after keywords that aren’t as popular, but for a new website, this is often the best approach. It’s very difficult to compete with mature websites that have achieved trust and authority for the most popular keywords in competitive ranking verticals. So sites that are young typically have more success optimizing for keywords that aren’t that popular or competitive or optimizing your keywords by integrating modifiers (thematic modifiers or geo-targeted modifiers) and creating mid to long tail keywords.
It’s critical to choose keywords to optimize for based on how relevant they are to your products or services. If your keywords are not intrinsically relevant to what you’re offering on your website, the traffic the search engines feed your website will not be delivered a relevant message. Thus, they will be unable to complete the “search and reward cycle.” You see, searchers seek relevance and without it you’re unlikely to convert them into customers.