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Keywords form the basis for any digital marketing strategy. In this post we explore how the nature of keyword strategy has changed and what you need to consider in order to have a well rounded plan for 2016.

Not only has our online audience evolved over the past decade, but the technology we use to find answers to our online questions has improved by leaps and bounds. Naturally digital marketers need to adapt to this, one of the biggest areas for change is; how we use and carry out a keyword strategy.

Every website should have a set of keywords that are representative of their business and the services they provide. In the past SEO has been the practice of stuffing these keywords into pages, header tags, meta details and so on. Search has changed so much now that our strategy has become much cleverer than that. For example, now, using the same keywords site-wide and stuffing them in all pages is more likely to impact in a negative way rather than improve rankings.

How has search evolved?

  • Semantic search – This means that search engines are now clever enough to gain context from content. If the long tail keywords used in the website content are relevant to a hypothetical search term, a search engine will be able to index this page for the query, without necessarily even using any keywords.
  • Conversational search – This is now available on Chrome, the concept behind this is that the user is able to almost have a conversation with Google. The search engine has adapted enough that it is able to interpret queries in relation to previous queries, location, date and time.
  • Long tail keywords – The above points are best achieved with long tail keywords. These are the keywords that are more specific to your products and aren’t necessarily representative of your business as a whole. The best way to ensure you are including lots of these kinds of keywords is with lots of relevant content on product pages, news and blog pages etc.

Choosing your keywords . . .

Through research and the use of tools like AdWords keyword planner, coming up with an extensive list of potential keywords shouldn’t be difficult. Begin by dividing them into categories to start your strategy.

Branded keywords

These keywords include parts of of your whole brand e.g. ‘Studio 24 Web Design’, for this search we would expect high rankings on the search results pages as this keyword is highly specific and includes the company name.

Top level keywords

Keywords that describe your service, these keywords are very general, and are your top targets to rank highly for e.g. ‘website design’ or ‘drupal website design’.

Locational keywords

These keywords include your location, like branded keywords you can expect to rank higher for your selected location than nationally, as the competition is less e.g. ‘web design Cambridge’ instead of ‘web design UK’.

Secondary keywords

These are other keywords that you might have found through research that are worth targeting because of their low competition and high search volume. Not quite as important as your top level keywords, but might turn out some good results.

Long tail keywords

These are longer phrases you would most likely see in the content of your website, sometimes taking the form of a question or turn of phrase, usually in product descriptions and blog posts. Long tail keywords might occur more naturally, but if there are key phrases you think are important to add to your content these can be planned in.

Again long tail keywords need to fit in with the text, which is why this might be best unplanned as semantic search will find the copy relevant to the right search queries. It is best to concentrate on interesting and informative content, as opposed to filling with keywords and search terms.

So what does this all mean for your keyword strategy? Once you have you list of keywords you think represent your business online, this is a basic overview of what you need to do with them:

Make sure you have chosen relevant keywords

Although you have chosen your keywords for your site, when adding them to the page, make sure they are actually relevant to the content on that page and that they fit in naturally.

When and where you add your keywords in

The strongest areas to add keywords in is in the title of the page, meta description and try to incorporate your keywords into the text (only once or twice), but again making sure that they fit naturally into the copy of the page.

Target different keywords on different pages

Using the same keywords on all pages is a mistake as your keywords will conflict with each other. Your strategy should include single pages that are relevant for different keywords. There may be pages that aren’t actually relevant for your top level keywords. In this scenario it is much better to focus on what the page is about than forcing unnatural keywords into your copy and ultimately achieving a negative result.

No keyword stuffing

The practice of keyword stuffing is now redundant, so do not unnaturally stuff keywords into the pages of your website. This will not improve your rankings, if anything it will work to a detriment of the website.

Integrate your PPC

One of the best ways to get more for your money when it comes to PPC, is to use your results to influence your SEO tactics. PPC offers the advantage of being able to test out your keywords and ad copies on an audience, and get actual conversion data. This is a very accurate way of finding what keywords, offers and language resonates with your online users.