5 Tips for Refreshing Your SEO Efforts for 2012
Marketers recently surveyed in the 2011 State of Digital Marketing Report, a study of online marketers, reported that SEO is the number one source of leads compared to PPC and social media marketing.
You can nurture and grow your leads by taking stock of your existing SEO efforts and the keywords that you’ve been using on your website and within your blog posts. In this post, we offer 5 tips and links to a number of outstanding resources to help you refresh your SEO efforts for 2012.
1) Think Strategically about Keywords
Keywords, the backbone of SEO, are considered by many to be an art and a science. I’ve read many good takes on SEO but one of the most comprehensive ones I’ve come across is presented by Stoney deGeyter who has an excellent 12-part series of posts on how to find, analyze, prioritize and organize your keywords.
Stoney deGeyter suggests that you take the time to find your “core terms” and by these he means the unique words or phrases that relate to your products and services. He recommends that the first step to finding core terms is to dig through your website and take a look at the words that you’re currently using, and then to do brainstorming of your own.
Ask yourself key questions such as:
- What is the average customer looking for?
- What are my visitors trying to accomplish?
- What can I find in thesauri, taxonomies and ontologies for words that have similar meanings?
- What questions are my visitors asking?
- What terminology describes problems I solve, what solutions do I provide?
Once you have that list you can use keyword research tools to compare how well those words are working and other options that searchers are using to conduct research. (Note: we’ll discuss specific tools below.)
Stoney deGeyter also suggests:
Digging into your analytics and server logs to see the actual words that users have used to arrive at your pages; and prioritizing the terms by search volume, target audience, profit margin, and ability to meet demand.
Through this process you’ll uncover search phrases, have the opportunity to analyze them, decide which to eliminate and then organize them.
Segment Keyword Phrases into Intent Groups
Stoney deGeyter recommends segmenting your keyword phases into three “intent” groups—research, shop and buy.
Research keywords are the ones that people use when they are searching for general info and might not know yet what they really want. deGeyter says we should think of them like window shoppers and suggests optimizing these keywords in higher-level categories and articles. “If you get them to your site while they are in this early phase then you’ve started a branding process.”
Searchers in this phase have moved into the realm of having intent. They have an idea of what they want, they just don’t know the specifics. These keywords should be targeted on narrow product category pages as well as product comparison pages. The goal at this point is to provide as many of the details needed for your customers to see that your products are superior. deGeyter writes, that this too is branding and “Providing a solid resource– giving visitors a reason to come back to you once they enter the next phase.”
Buy keywords are when a searcher has a specific product in mind and they are looking for a trustworthy place to buy. You can optimize these words on specific product pages. deGeyter recommends spelling out all the specific features and benefits on your product pages, and providing searchers with all the information they’ll need to make that final purchase decision. “Getting someone to your site at this phase is most likely to lead to a purchase than any other. Targeting users in this stage generally produces the best return on investment than the others.”
2. Broaden Your Reach: Free and Paid Keyword Research Tools
In Kelsey Konrad’s blog post, she provides a succinct list of both paid and free keyword research tools that had been recommended by SEO expert Christine Churchill. Christine and many other SEO experts will recommend that you make it a practice to use more than one tool when doing keyword research. (Note: I’ve deleted the free tools from the list that have since ceased operation.)
Free Keyword Research Tools
Paid Keyword Research Tools:
3) Utilize Keyword Tools by Content Types
Another fantastic list comes from Lee Odden who provides a mix of keyword tools and ways to use them in order to customize keyword research for different content types and methods of search:
Google’s keyword tool provides a mobile filtering option
News keyword research
Lee Odden suggests Übersuggest, as a useful service that collects auto-suggested search words provided by Google News as you type. It can do this for Google.com as well.
Video Keyword Research,
YouTube Promoted Video Keyword Research Tool
Social Media Keyword Research
Image Keyword Research
Lee recommends Google Insights for Search where you can use the images filter.
Lee Odden also advocates for what he calls, best practices SEO, which calls for a combination of fixed keyword lists and monitoring real time conversations for keyword and content opportunities. “These two types of keyword research and monitoring are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s essential they work together, especially in competitive categories Fixed keyword lists aren’t really “fixed either”. They often get audited every few months with weekly or monthly updates based on trends observed from web analytics.”
4) Integrate Your Search and Social Presence Philosophies
In a reflective post by Ben Willis, 10 Years as an SEO and Search Marketer, the author advocates for continuing to develop your social presence. As he says, “It will factor into rankings in the future and, therefore, the decision must be made now to cultivate valuable social media practices that are likely to influence rankings so that you are prepared for when Google is ready to allow social signals to more significantly affect search rankings. Go develop your social presence.”
5) Think of SEO as Continuing Education
For people who’d like to delve further into the study of SEO, Neil Patel provides a terrific list of 53 Resources for First Time SEOs that includes: blogs, links to SEO information, tools, forums, and conferences. Definitely spend time checking out Neil’s list where you’ll find a wealth of information to work at your SEO on an ongoing basis.
What steps will you take to refresh your SEO efforts for the new year? Share your thoughts in the space below.