Recently, a client asked why we weren’t targeting more high-competition keywords as part of her SEO strategy. This is a great question. She, like many other business owners, is taken with the idea of ranking high for a popular word. For example, wouldn’t it be great if an author website could rank for the term “book”?
Actually, the answer is “No. No, it wouldn’t.”
Here’s why. An SEO strategy, especially for a small to medium business that focuses on high-competition keywords, will spend too much time, energy, and money chasing words that don’t convert as well as long tail keywords.
Below is the SEO strategy I use with my authors and business clients. Keep it handy when working with an SEO company so you not only understand what they are doing, but so they understand your company’s particular SEO needs.
Why Your SEO Keyword List Needs Long Tail Keywords and Keyword Phrases
Long tail keywords are several words, or a phrase, that people use when searching. They focus on what someone needs in the moment.
This means that using long tail keywords that aptly apply to your product, service, or company, will convert better for these main reasons:
- These terms are of a higher quality because they focus on a very specific intention. If someone searches for “best fiction books to read during summer vacation” you can bet they are close to making a purchase, as opposed to someone simply searching for “books.”
- Long tail keywords help reduce your bounce rate because people come to your site and find what they are looking for. They don’t leave right away because the keywords that led them there weren’t relevant.
- Long tail keywords generally have lower competition, and this makes it easier and faster to rank for them.
Your SEO company should be targeting a healthy amount of long tail keywords. If they’re not, now is the time to ask them why, and make sure your SEO strategy includes long tail keywords relevant to your website.
Keyword Research and Building Your Keyword List
Building a successful keyword list is a combination of art and science. You need to get into the head of your consumer and find the words they use to find you. You also need to look at what your competition is ranking for, and prepare a keyword list and SEO strategy to rank your pages higher on search results than them.
Start building your list by brainstorming keyword phrases you think people use to find you. Also, ask others on your team to come up with keyword ideas. Several people with various perspectives, often build the most well-rounded keyword lists. Then research the ones with the most potential.
As your SEO strategy continues, your keywords will also change and your targeting will get better and better. Remember, a good SEO strategy takes time, but if done right, it will produce some of your highest-converting customers.
Using Keywords in Your Website Content
Once your keywords and phrases are set, you need to produce content on your website using them. Blogs, webpages, ebooks, whitepapers, videos, infographics, and images are the types of content you need to optimize.
For example, if you are the author of a series of science fiction books, you might want to target: “best science fiction books to read” as a keyword phrase. Work it into the copy so that when people use it in search, they discover your website.
On the other hand, simply targeting a broad, single word term like “book”, could bring people looking for a “cook book”, or who what to “book” an airline flight, to your site. If they aren’t interested in your type of book, chances are they will leave your site fast, meaning you’ve spent time and money getting them there, only to have them bounce—which negatively impacts your website’s SEO.
When to Target Keywords with Low Search Volume
Many SEO experts will tell you not to target keywords with no search volume. Their logic is sound: why put effort into optimizing for words that no one is searching for? It’s like fishing in an empty bucket.
As the founder of Black Chateau, a digital marketing agency for authors and their books, I can tell you exactly when and why you need to break the rules on this common SEO strategy and optimize for keywords with low search volume.
Chances are, your SEO strategy is more nuanced than others if you’re an author, celebrity, business thought-leader, or other brand-focused company. There are more reasons to lure people to your website than just making a sale, like in typical ecommerce.
I always advise my author clients to optimize for low volume words that are laser-targeted about their book or series, or a theme in their book or series. The time to do this is as far in advance of a book’s release as possible. You want to be there, with your website optimized for these terms, ready for searches that come once your book is launched.
If your goals go beyond simple sales—and most authors and thought leaders also want to book personal appearances, get noticed by media, promote their mailing list, or offer services like coaching or consulting—then your site needs to be optimized for very specific terms that may be very low in volume, but will convert highly for you.
Whether you’re an author or a company, you can’t afford to not understand the underlying philosophies of your SEO strategy. Even if you are working with an SEO company, always remember that no one knows your business and your needs better than you. Having a firm handle on the thought-process behind your SEO strategy and keyword list, means you can guide your SEO strategy, and build the best one possible for your individual needs.