Jenny’s Note: As my SEO intern, Meghan Stoneburner, prepares to graduate from college and enter the professional world, I asked her to provide a few “lessons learned” from her perspective as an SEO beginner. Meghan has been a quick learner into the world of search engine optimization. She’s also an awesome person and will be missed. Good luck out there, Meghan!
Unfortunately Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not taught in most colleges because it’s a fairly “new” practice and is a constantly changing subject. Teaching the subject throughout a whole semester would be difficult. Like most SEO beginners, I researched as much as I could until I got confused. Then I got luckier than most college students and stumbled into an SEO internship. Having very little knowledge of the basics of SEO, diving head first into the subject in an internship was daunting and overwhelming, Lucky for me, I had a great teacher and a massive amount of determination. Jenny Munn, my awesome internship boss, is an SEO trainer and consultant for digital marketing professionals, small business owners, and SEO skeptics. It was seriously a privilege to work with such a kind and knowledgeable woman. She taught me more about SEO than I ever expected and now I want to share.
The Importance of Keywords in SEO:
I never would have thought that the ranking of websites could come down to single words. Using Google Adwords free keyword research tool, anyone can research what Americans and Global audiences are searching for on a daily basis. It’s kind of like spying on the world and seeing what they are secretly searching in their free time. I very quickly went from an SEO newbie to a Google Adwords addict.
Finding the right words to place strategically on your website or blog can boast your rating and put you on the first page of Google. Isn’t that exactly what every site and blog owner wants? Doing some simple keyword research and using those keywords effectively is such an easy way to make a huge difference in the amount of hits your site gets.
There’s quite a difference in what we think people are searching and what they are really searching. Sometimes that difference comes from a single letter. For example, using the word “keyword” and using the word “keywords” is not the same thing. In a quick Google Adwords search, “keyword” is searched 673,000 a month in the United States while “keywords” is only searched 246,000 a month. Plug in the word “keywords” into your next blog post and it won’t generate as many hits as using the word “keyword”. That S makes a huge difference!
Tips for using Google Adwords correctly:
- Signing in makes a difference – Make sure you log in, in the upper right corner because you’ll get a much better list of results if Google can keep track of what you are looking up.
- Brainstorm – Fill in the word or phrase area with as many keywords/key phrases as possible that relate to your site and what you have to offer. If you want to be searchable as a “social media expert” than put that in the keyword search. And “social media professional”, “expert in social media”, “social media strategist”, “social media consultant”, etc. If you want to write a blog post about animal friendly events in Atlanta, put in “ pet events in Atlanta”, “animal friendly events in Atlanta”, “things to do with your pets in Atlanta”, “Atlanta pet spots”, etc. Brainstorm your little heart out and put whatever keywords and phrases that you think others would be searching.
- Click this, unclick that – For a more accurate result, there are certain spots on Google Adwords to click and unclick. On the left hand column, unclick Broad and click “Phrase” because this will help narrow down the search. Experiment with clicking “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms” in the middle column. Otherwise, your results won’t be tailored to your keywords and will include every imaginable search loosely related to the words you plug in. If you don’t get enough results, unclick it to try again.
- The results – Once you have your keywords filled out, your clicks clicked and unclicked and you’re signed in, hit search and see what gold you can find. The top part of the search results section shows your exact keywords/phrases but the bottom is where the best information lies. Click on the local monthly searches on the right to list from most results to least. Local means the United States and Global means the rest of the world. You are looking for the most local searches with the lowest competition. If the keyword is listed as high competition, just know you have your work cut out for you. High search results, low competiton-that’s your keyword!
- One or two keywords per page – Using only a specific 1-2 keywords per page (or per post) really focuses your efforts and provides the best chance for success. Just like it isn’t logical to try to rank for a highly competitive word right out of the gate, it’s the same illogical effort to try to rank for several keywords on a page or post. You want to rank for a keyword for your site in general, for each page, and for each post. Focusing your efforts is key in SEO and if you try to rank for everything under the sun, you will end up not ranking for anything.
Where to put your keywords:
Years ago, people would stuff their writing and websites with an overuse of their keywords and Google would rank them pretty high. But the search engine learned from this shady practice and now they don’t reward keyword stuffing. There are certain areas to include your golden words that will give you the most bang for your buck.
- Title tag
- Page Title
- Meta description tag
Put your keywords in those areas and you have a much better chance of ranking for those words. However, keep in mind that writing for your readers is a bigger priority than writing for search engines.
Using these simple SEO keyword tips can increase your site hits and help you come up on the first page of a search results. I have one warning for you though. There’s a huge chance you might become just as addicted to Google Adwords as I did. You can thank me later.