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Find Keywords You Can Actually Rank for With These 4 Questions

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Find Keywords You Can Actually Rank for With These 4 Questions

Driving organic traffic from search often requires attaining high Google rankings. Often, I see marketers creating content with that goal but without keeping keyword research in mind. They expend valuable time and effort creating a piece that ultimately falls flat.

Marketers often mistakenly create #content to draw organic traffic without keeping keyword research in mind, says @JohnHall via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

However, when you target the right keywords for your business, SEO can be one of the most valuable and highest ROI channels. But how do you identify and prioritize the right keywords? A consistent keyword research process can make your job easier.

Answer these four questions to qualify and find keywords that will deliver for your brand.

Is your site deep enough?

Just because a keyword has low competition doesn’t mean your site will easily rank for it. If you have not written much publicly about the subject, you do not have the necessary topical depth authority. In Google’s eyes, your site – even if your business has decades of experience on this topic – still falls into the newbie category.

To break out of newbie status, make sure you have published at least six articles on that same general topic in the last three months.

Gain topical depth authority by publishing at least six articles in the last three months on the general subject, says @JohnHall via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

Is the keyword really valuable?

Possessing topical authority for a keyword doesn’t necessarily mean you should pursue it. Targeted keywords should relate in some way to your business revenue.

For example, a calendar platform site might rank well for the keyword “time management.” But people who search for that phrase are likely looking for information about the topic. They will read the article on the site, but they won’t convert into customers. (I use this example from my knowledge as an investor in Calendar.com.)

However, if the calendar platform site ranks for the keyword phrase “alternatives to Calendly” on a listicle or internal page, the readers of this content would be 100% interested in the platform’s business offering and convert much better since they are looking for a solution in the space.

A successful SEO strategy should tie to your company’s offerings for maximum ROI. Otherwise, the content won’t really benefit the business in the long term. Choose keywords that have both your topical depth authority and relevance to revenue.

A targeted keyword for which your business can rank but isn’t likely to convert into revenue is not a smart choice, says @JohnHall via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

How authoritative is your site?

While topical depth authority grows in importance to Google rankings, general site popularity remains a factor. Your website’s domain authority (DA) indicates how well your pages are likely to rank for the targeted keywords. Use a tool like Moz domain authority checker, Domain Rating from Ahrefs, or Authority Score from Semrush. Compare your site’s score to the sites already ranking for your target keywords. If your score isn’t close to their scores, you won’t find it easy to rank for that keyword.

In general, companies with high domain authority scores or ratings will have an easier time ranking for competitive keywords. If you’re a smaller company with a low domain authority, spend your time focusing on lower-volume search terms.

How do you spot content competitors’ weaknesses?

The secret sauce to a winning SEO strategy is capitalizing on the weaknesses and problems you find on the search engine results page. Among the weak signals that could indicate positive opportunities to pursue:

  • Page title misses terms in your target keyword
  • Page word count is less than 1,000 words
  • Page takes more than three seconds to load
  • Page was published over six months ago
  • Page is a forum site such as Quora, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn
  • Page’s Moz spam score is above 10%
  • Page reading level is at least ninth grade
  • Page mobile user experience is poor

Find a keyword with a few of these weakness indicators in the results for which your company already has the topical depth and domain authority. Then, you can capitalize on them to create content that delivers better for the audience and the search engine results page.

Putting it all together

It can be helpful to start your keyword search using a tool like Ahrefs to get insights into monthly keyword search volumes and competitor domain authority to get a baseline understanding of ranking difficulty. But you still must evaluate the search results to find weaknesses to capitalize on.

A variety of tools can help in that process. TopicRanker shows how to use the data to make better decisions around keyword research. Enter your website’s URL and a topic relevant to your business expertise. (Avoid using generic keywords.)

In this example, I input www.salesmessage.com/ as the URL with the keyword “sms for marketing.” The results indicate it has a medium keyword difficulty with a search volume of 18,100. It includes the Moz domain authority for the site along with the missing number of words in the meta title, word count, readability score, load time, and spam score.

1679368005 495 Find Keywords You Can Actually Rank for With These 4The TopicRanker tool can:

  • Analyze your website and inputted keyword
  • Crawl search results for thousands of keywords related to that topic to find specific weaknesses and problems in the SERP
  • Uncover all the search results where the content does a poor job of helping the reader
  • Suggest keywords your company should be able to rank for (usually between five and 10).
  • Break down the SERP results for each suggested keyword, showing competitor weaknesses on which you can capitalize and create a better piece of content

1679368005 766 Find Keywords You Can Actually Rank for With These 4

Making SEO progress

With so much competition for attention, you can’t simply create content based on gut feelings. It requires knowing which questions to ask and, more importantly, which answers will lead to the creation of an effective SEO strategy. Failure to do that means you’ll exhaust resources creating content that doesn’t impact your company’s bottom line. But by following this process, you can create winning content that ranks high and brings customers organically.

All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please feel free to add it in the comments.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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MARKETING

Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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Salesforce rolls out new edition of Marketing Cloud for small businesses

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Salesforce summer 2023 release: The business executive's guide

Today Salesforce announced Marketing Cloud Growth, an edition of Marketing Cloud designed specifically for small businesses.

With help from AI, this edition makes it easy for marketers to segment audiences, create and execute email campaigns from text to image, optimize campaign performance and create unified customer profiles. It also has a prompt builder that can store and manage known reliable prompts for organizations.

Dig deeper: 70% of SMB marketers willing to pay more for tools with AI or automation

Salesforce developed the new edition by looking at the most common use cases for which small businesses frequenty don’t have the people or resources. This includes things like personalizing campaigns and advanced testing.

The company is also letting small businesses (those with fewer than 200 employees) that have Sales or Service Enterprise Edition “get started with Data Cloud at no cost.” Marketing Cloud Growth will initially be available in the U.S. and Canada and is expected to roll out to Europe, the Middle East and Asia by the end of the year.

Why we care. First of all, small businesses need all the help they can get. This creates an opportunity to start using AI within a centralized marketing workflow rather than importing content from independent generative AI tools. Perhaps it’s also a sign of Salesforce moving to compete with platforms (can we say HubSpot?) that more overtly court SMB clients.

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