How to stand out from the competition in organic search results: Look for better keywords.

Authored by: Katherine Monestel, DocuSend, powered by MTI.

First, let’s review some basic concepts.

  • What is SEO? And why is it important?
  • This video will help you understand white hat SEO (any practice that improves your search rankings in line with Google search engine guidelines) and something that you should always avoid: black hat SEO (tactics against search engine guidelines that may provoke being banned from Google).

  • What is meant by "organic" search results?
  • This refers to unpaid search results. If you find the right keywords and create meaningful content to go with them, it can place you within the top ten search results. And if you succeed at optimizing the keywords for searches, it can set you as number one.

  • Is your website indexed by Google?
  • The indexing of your content by Google is determined by system algorithms that take into account user demand and quality checks. Here is a short training video about the Google Search Console that explains how to check this.

The concepts of SEO are simple, but their implementation is complex. You will need to keep improving your SEO techniques all the time, since the rules constantly change.

Choosing the right keywords is the most important aspect of SEO, but I want to emphasize that this is not the only action that will create a good environment and place your business within the first positions on the search results. However, the main idea in this article is to help you use keywords to position in the top ten search results with a small budget.

Steps to Follow to Find New and Relevant Keywords

  1. Learn more about your niche:
    • Talk with your current users to get the information you need to find the most relevant phrases they use when describing your product or service. If you are just starting a business, investigate the most common terms your competitors use.
    • Get into the online social media or forums talks: Get involved in your topic or niche’s online communities. Read the discussions and find out any pain points that are mentioned regarding your niche, then try to see if your business fits and fills their needs. Then go for it, filling in what the market is missing that people are needing.
  2. Determine the goal: It’s crucial to define your goal because it will provide a route for your SEO tactics and plan.
    • What makes your business stand out?
    • What is your website about?
    • Do you want to increase the number of subscribers (if you are a blogger) or do you want to increase search visibility?
  3. Write a list of topics related to your business:
    • List topics that are related to your niche.
    • Then create a list of subtopics; this list can be later converted into keywords.
    • What topics will your target audience search for on Google? Think about it… What would you search for?
  4. Try some free keyword research tools:
  5. Identify long-tail keywords for your business:
  6. Let´s suppose you have a company that sells computers. You will need to investigate the terms people use most often when searching for a computer to buy. Use quality keywords over a quantity of keywords.

    We can try “buy computers” – that gives us 11,400,000,000 results in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages).

    Google always tries to help you. It will display the most common questions people have that are related to the keyword searched, such as in the image below.

    Using these Google tips, you can find ideas for possible long-tail keywords for your business.

Focus on Highly Relevant, Low-Competition Keywords

If the number of search results is super high, as in our example, try to find a more specific keyword related to your niche. I suggest that you refine your keyword to a long-tail keyword with less competition and higher opportunities for ranking faster. More specific keyword searches make it easier to craft personalized content that is laser focused on search intent. (More on content later in this article.)

The search term “buy computers” is a generic phrase, so it is difficult for you to know if the searcher is really looking for a place that sells computers or if they need ideas on what computer is good to buy or what kind of computer they need that fits with their job or, well… you get the picture—there are any number of things people can be thinking when searching using such a generic keyword.

The goal with keywords is to find ones one that best fit your niche and at the same time help your users to find what they are really looking for. This means that if you are a business dedicated more to a specific kind of computer, you will need to look for even more specific keywords, and that almost always helps you to find less competitive phrases.

Less competition does not mean less authoritative keywords. It is like looking in the empty spaces your competition has not seen and gaining that keyword opportunity to show up to your potential customers in the SERPS.

Long-tail keywords need to have good search volumes and trends, which will let you know if the keyword you are targeting has a good number of people looking for that phrase and if it will eventually lead them to your website.

“But wait,” you may say, “you’ve said that a huge number is not good—the search term is too generic. So, what’s a good search volume?”

I agree, it seems confusing, right? I will give you some other metrics that you will need to take into account when choosing a keyword. There is not a specific number that I can share with you. However, these metrics, which you can obtain using an SEO tool like MOZ, will guide you tremendously to define the best keywords to use.

  • Monthly Volume: This refers to the demand of the keyword. Higher monthly volume means a better keyword. Look for keywords with at least 100 searches per month; over 500 is best.
  • Difficulty: The lower the better. The lower the number, the easier it is to rank for the keyword on the first SERP. Here is a list of difficulty numbers that may give you an idea of what you can try.

If you find a keyword that has a high search volume and low difficulty value it is a good keyword to try. Note: This is my opinion based on the most common tests I tried. It is your decision if you want to try the more difficult numbers. The reason I do not recommend the higher difficulty number here is that it will take a lot of advertising resources to gain that keyword.

I used the MOZ tool to get these numbers for “buy computers.” Reviewing this keyword, the monthly volume is low and the level of difficulty is high. Not worth trying in my opinion.

There are those who might like to try this keyword in ads because the CTR is high. Organic CTR: The click-through rate is the percentage of total ad views that result in clicks. CTR helps determine both your ad rank and your cost per click. So it is your decision if you want to give this a shot.

    The following Google tools are very helpful for finding effective keywords and checking keyword trends:

  • Google Keyword Planner.
  • Google Trends: Google Trends is an online tool that helps you discover trends in people’s search behavior within Google Search, Google News, Google Images, Google Shopping and YouTube. It’s super useful when looking for keywords.

Now Get Writing

However, that is not all.

Once you find the right keyword you will need to write content on your website related to that keyword. If you just add the keyword and the content is not related, you will have the opposite outcome: Google will send your website to the bottom of the search results.

I always suggest reinforcing the keyword with an article or a specific online page that targets the chosen keyword. If your content does not reinforce your keyword it will hardly work. In the following link you will find a brief explanation about how a blog helps you boost your online presence:

How to Bring More People to Your Business’s Website.

The final thing that maybe you are wondering is, where should I place the selected keyword?

  • Place keyword(s) inside the HTML: in title tags, descriptions and alt texts.
  • Place keyword(s) in article headlines and in subheads with variations of the keyword.
  • Place keyword(s) in the first 25 words of your page. Bold keyword(s) at least once on your page to call readers’ attention to them; if the user stays on your page for a reasonable time, you will call the search engine spiders’ attention too. (A spider is a crawler used by a search engine to browse and index content.)

AVOID: Keyword stuffing: Repeating the same word or phrase so often that it sounds unnatural. Please share some other techniques you use to find relevant keywords for your site.

Bonus – How to take advantage of time while we are at home

How business owners and entrepreneurs can get certificates from Google courses about digital marketing and analytics; also learn about SEO from prestigious companies without leaving home and for FREE!

If you have a new website, here are the Top 5 things to consider for your site, from Google Webmasters:

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About the author
COVID-19 Impact on Future and New Business Operation

Katherine Monestel is the SEO Coordinator for DocuSend and enjoys sharing ideas with small business owners and others involved in optimizing their websites. A trained educator and the mother of a child on the autism spectrum, she coordinates seminars on autism and asperger syndrome to support families and inform teachers.

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