The Role Keywords Play in SEO and Content Marketing
You may already know this, but keywords are an important part of any search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. The question is: are you using them effectively?
What Are Keywords?
As the name suggests, keywords are the main topics and ideas - the “key” words - that define what your content or service is about. When it comes to your SEO, keywords are the words and phrases (also known as “search queries”) that people enter into a search engine when they are looking for a solution to their question.
From a business perspective, while keywords are part of your SEO strategy to drive quality organic traffic to your website, which in turn increases your ranking and lead generation; they are not a magic bullet. There is no one keyword that will unlock the gateway to unlimited traffic. For keywords to be effective they must be part of your overall SEO and marketing strategy. One of the goals of an SEO plan is to use keywords to not only drive traffic, but to drive the right people to your website.
What Keywords Should My MSP Be Using?
Unfortunately there’s no 100% correct answer, but let’s go through how you can determine what keywords will work for you and how you can use them to improve your overall MSP marketing strategy.
Utilize Your Biggest Asset: Your Sales Team
Your sales team is your first source to determine which keywords are being used by potential customers to find your site, but you have to have a system in place to collect the data. Train your sales team or any team member who interacts with the public to ask what keywords or phrases a client used to find the site. You will be surprised at the amount of insight that can be gained by speaking with a real person in regard to developing your keywords.
Next, take a moment to brainstorm with your entire team and ask for keywords they would use to search for your services. Once again, you will be surprised at the insights you have right at your fingertips.
You want to pick the best keywords that will help you improve your ranking, but what is your target audience searching for in terms of IT and technology-related topics?
Before we explore that, it helps to know the five main types of search queries:
- Local - The searcher is looking for something in the local area (e.g., a nearby restaurant or store)
- Informational - The searcher is looking for a piece of specific information (e.g., the year a movie came out or how many seasons are in a particular TV show)
- Navigational - The searcher is trying to get to a specific place on the Internet (e.g., a company’s Facebook page or a website’s blog page)
- Transactional - The searcher wants to do something (e.g., watch a video or purchase a particular thing)
- Commercial Investigation - The searcher is trying to compare two or more different things to see which is the best fit for their needs (e.g., Playstation 4 vs. Xbox 1 or iPhone vs. Samsung vs. LG)
There’s a reason why it is important to know which type of audience your keywords are designed to attract; your content needs to fit the expectations of the searchers. If it doesn’t, they will leave the site, increasing your bounce rate and reducing opportunities for conversion. When people lose confidence in your site, the results can be a loss in authority and ultimately a drop in ranking.
Understanding these, you’ll then need to think of things from the perspective of an ideal potential customer. Think:
- What technology-related queries are they entering into Google?
- Who in particular is making these searches?
- What words are they using in their searches?
- What questions are they asking?
- Are they searching from a computer or mobile device?
- Why are they making these searches?
- Are there any seasonality considerations to make?
This is where Google’s search console can provide some insight. Log into your search console, click on the performance link and examine the queries tab; there you will see the list of keywords potential customers used to search and which webpages were triggered in response to those searches.
Review the keywords, are they the keywords that you are interested in triggering? Do they correspond to the calls, emails or subscriptions you’ve been receiving? This first step can provide the insight needed to analyze how potential customers are interacting or not with your site. Search console can also provide information about the device used, location, pages triggered and more.
Because different people search in different ways, you’ll need to incorporate a bit of variety into your strategy. You’ll need to have a good mix of head terms (shorter, more generic keywords) and long-tail keywords (slightly longer phrases). You should also look into what words or phrases you already rank high for and what words your competition ranks high for (Your marketing agency should be able to provide a competitive analysis which provides the information needed to better compete against your competitors).
Where to Put Keywords
When you are optimizing your web pages, you want keywords to be in relevant places on your website. As noted there is no magic keyword or place to put it, instead strive to have a consistent message and install your keywords in multiple locations on your site, but not in every location, as there are some places where they may not logically fit. Here are some potential places that you can put them.
- Titles and subtitles (H1, H2, H3…)
- Meta tags and meta descriptions
- Internal links on your website
- Your webpage URLs
- Image alt text and file paths
- In the page copy
One thing to remember when adding keywords to your site is that they have to be added in a way that makes sense and is natural. Search engines have evolved to the point in which they try to ‘read’ content as if they were humans and will rank lower, content which they feel is not providing the searcher with the information or a ‘good’ experience.
Your MSP’s SEO strategy should already be handling a lot of the technical placements that we listed above. Your content marketing strategy, in part, should involve writing highly relevant content that naturally and effectively incorporates these keywords into the content itself.
Keep in mind that when it comes to SEO, keyword relevance is more important than keyword density. The ‘old’ days of repeating a keyword over and over without regard to the quality of content, will not allow you to compete against a competitor who is continuously creating interesting content, using social media and actually marketing their services. DON’T just try to pack your website with the same handful of keywords over and over with no regard to the flow of content on your website. This practice is not user-friendly, and will actually hurt your ranking in the long-term. It’s also frowned upon by Google; you don’t want your site to be blacklisted! Instead, regularly update and optimize the content (and keywords) on your website, and start a company blog that writes about topics related to what your audience is interested in.
Keyword Aren’t Everything...Get the Full Package
Does your MSP keyword strategy need some work? Whether it does or not, there’s a lot more that you need to worry about if you want to get your MSP noticed besides the keywords that you’re trying to rank for. Our SEO and Content Marketing services take care of optimizing your website after thorough localized keyword research, provide monthly reports that analyze how you’re doing, and so much more. Reach out to us and schedule a demo to see for yourself.