Probably the most important aspect of any SEO campaign is Keyword Research. Without proper keyword research, everything else is going to be dependant on luck.
The Two Factors to Consider that Makes your Keyword Targeting Powerful
- Targeting the keywords that are attainable for the strength of your domain
- Setting the proper on page structuring so that the LSI terms and long tail versions of the keywords you're targeting will rank
Basics of Keyword Research
First of all, let's learn the basics of keyword research. There are many tools I like to use for keyword research, but the most important one is by far your brain. I like to use related searches that I find at the bottom of the search results as well as terms I can find in the LSI graph in researching a niche.
Taking a look at those along with things like Google trends can be helpful when looking at a niche I am not familiar with. I take the list that I create of LSI terms and Google Suggest terms and see what is ranking. Tools like Semrush and ahrefs can be helpful in gauging the competition for the different terms. I also like kwfinder.com for their competition scores.
Short List of Keyword Research Tools
- Google Adwords Keyword Planner
- Bing Keyword Planner
- SeoStack Keyword Tool
- Keywords Everywhere
Most of these tools help me to build out a list of potential keywords to rank for. While some help me to see the competition for the terms. The major players like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz have specific tools as well, but right now I'm going over the free tools available.
While some of these tools have difficulty scores which can help to judge how hard it is to rank for a given keyword, I like to take a look at the serps and what's ranking. Some indicators that the term would be an easier target would be multiple authority sites that aren't optimized for the term. Using a ctrl + F and searching your target term while looking at the serps can make a quick scan for keywords in the titles more obvious.
Another thing that can be an indicator is the number of results when the keywords is searched inside quotes. A lower number shows that fewer pages are relevant to the phrase. Google will show you less pages when the term is in quotes.
When I have a basic idea of the competition of the niche, then I can see which terms I want to target with the website basing my decisions on the strength of the domain. Is it an authority? Is it already ranking for a variety of related keywords? Is it a new site that should be targeting the easier longer tail keywords? When you can choose the targets that are possible to rank for with the least effort, then you can separate out the harder terms for targeting with YouTube videos or other properties.
Building the Page to Rank
Things like the length of the content, the keyword density, and placing LSI versions of the keyword can be important factors to rank. The on page factors that are most important of course are as follows:
ON PAGE SEO FACTORS
- URL - I prefer to include the keyword /keyword-phrase/ as the slug for the page
- PAGE TITLE - I also will include the Keyword Phrase for My Page | BRANDED TERM
- H1 TAG - I like to match the H1 to the page title like this Keyword Phrase for My Page
- Image Alt Text - I will use a longer tail version of the Keyword Phrase in My Alt Tag
There are other things to think about, like keyword density of the ranking pages. I use SeoQuake to analyze the pages that are targeting the phrase. I will try to find an average and use that as a guideline when adding the keyword to the page. SeoQuake is a free browser add-on, and can be very useful. I will generally make sure I don't go much above what is the average keyword density. It can be trouble if you've overoptimized for a keyword, and sending links with the keyword phrase can trigger penalty.
Setting up your page to rank goes hand in hand with Keyword research. Without proper targeting you won't know what to optimize for, and without finding keywords your domain can likely rank for you're not going to have success.