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How to Build a Keyword Strategy [Free Template]

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How to Build a Keyword Strategy [Free Template]

Building a keyword strategy is the process of deciding what keywords to target and prioritize in organic search.

There are many ways to do it, but all methods pretty much boil down to finding keywords that: 

  1. Potential customers are searching for.
  2. Have value for your business.
  3. Are within your wheelhouse to rank for.
The best keywords have traffic, business, and ranking potential

Let’s go through how to do this in four simple steps.

1. Find keywords with traffic potential

There’s no point in targeting keywords that nobody types into Google because they won’t send you traffic even if you rank #1. So the first step is to find keywords that potential customers are searching for.

Let’s look at a couple of ways to do this.

A. See which of your competitors’ pages get the most traffic

If your competitor gets a lot of organic traffic to a page, the keyword it’s targeting must have traffic potential. And because they’re a competitor, such keywords are probably ones your customers are searching for too.

Here’s how to find which of your competitors’ pages get the most search traffic: 

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Enter a competitor’s domain
  3. Go to the Top pages report

For example, if you are looking for keywords for an online computer parts store, you may enter newegg.com. In the report, you’ll see its top pages by estimated organic traffic and the keyword sending the most traffic to each page.

Top pages by estimated organic search traffic for newegg.com, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Recommendation

If you see a lot of brand mentions in the “Top keyword” column, filter out keywords containing those words. 

Excluding branded keyword in the Organic keywords report in Site Explorer

Make a note of any that your customers may also be searching for. 

Here are a few for our hypothetical computer parts store:

Examples of keywords with traffic potential

Note that we didn’t highlight “gaming desk” or “gaming pc” because our store sells computer parts, not accessories or ready-built computers. There’s no point in targeting these keywords, as the people searching for them aren’t our customers.

B. Use a keyword research tool

Keyword research tools are big keyword databases that you can search and filter. 

Here’s how to use our keyword tool to find keywords with traffic potential:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter a few broad keywords related to your site (these are known as your “seeds”)
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
  4. Filter for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP)

For example, for a computer parts store, you can enter seed keywords like pc, computer, computers, motherboard, motherboards, amd, and intel. Then you’ll filter the Matching terms report for keywords with Traffic Potential.

Filtering for keywords with Traffic Potential in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Recommendation

Traffic Potential is the estimated monthly organic search traffic to the top-ranking page for a keyword. It tends to be a more reliable estimate of a keyword’s true traffic potential than search volume because pages tend to rank for many keywords, not just one. Learn more here

Now it’s just a case of eyeballing the report for keywords potential customers are searching for.

Examples of keywords customers of a computer parts store would be searching for

2. Check their value for your business

Each keyword your potential customers are searching for has some value for your business. But some have more value than others.

Take these three keywords, for example:

  • graphics card” – Searchers are shopping around. They’re nowhere near ready to buy. 
  • b550 vs x570 motherboard” Searchers have done some shopping around and narrowed down their options. They’re almost ready to buy. 
  • amd ryzen 5 3600” – Searchers have decided what they want. They’re ready to buy. 

Given that some of these searchers are closer to buying a computer part than others, some keywords arguably have more “business potential” for a computer parts store. These are the ones you should prioritize in your keyword strategy.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet for scoring the “business potential” of keywords:

How to score a keyword's business potential

Sidenote.

This is based on the scoring system we came up with when assessing keywords for our blog. Read more about this in our guide to keyword research.

Just keep in mind that the way you score a keyword may differ from how someone else scores it. It depends on how valuable it is for your business. For example, if you don’t sell the “amd ryzen 5 3600,” that keyword has a “business potential” score of 0 for you—not 3.

3. Check ranking difficulty

Keywords vary in ranking difficulty for a number of reasons. This doesn’t mean you should avoid those that are harder to rank for than others, but it’s important to take ranking difficulty into account when building your keyword strategy.

Here are four things we recommend you look at to assess ranking difficulty:

Backlinks

Backlinks are one of Google’s top ranking factors. The more high-quality backlinks the current top-ranking pages have, the harder it’ll be to compete with them. 

For a rough idea of how many backlinks you’ll need to crack the top 10, check the Keyword Difficulty (KD) score in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. This is based on the number of links to the top-ranking pages.

Example of a keyword with medium keyword difficulty in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

For a more thorough assessment, scroll to the SERP overview and check the “Domains” column to see the number of linking websites to each page. 

Linking domains to the top-ranking pages for "micro atx case"

Just keep in mind that these numbers only tell you the quantity of links to each page. To understand link quality, you’ll have to review each page’s backlink profile. You can get to this by clicking on the number in the “Backlinks” column. 

Backlinks report for one of the top-ranking pages for "micro atx case," via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Learn more: How to Do a Basic Backlink Audit

Authority

Many SEOs believe that popular websites have an easier time ranking on Google. For that reason, most take a website authority metric like Domain Rating (DR) into account when assessing a keyword’s ranking difficulty. 

Google representatives have said many times that Google doesn’t evaluate a site’s authority. But there are a couple of ways the so-called authority of a site could indirectly contribute to rankings.

  1. Internal links – High-DR sites tend to have more high-authority pages, and internal links from those pages may help other pages to rank higher.
  2. Familiar brands – Searchers likely want to see household names for some queries. If that’s not you, you may have a harder time ranking. 

If you are in the camp that thinks Google takes site authority into account or just want to err on the safe side, check the top-ranking pages’ DR scores in Keywords Explorer. If they’re all much higher than your site’s DR, you may want to prioritize other keywords.

Domain Rating (DR) of the top-ranking sites for "3090 graphics card"

Recommendation

To find your site’s DR score, enter your domain into Site Explorer.

Domain Rating (DR) in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Search intent

People are looking for something specific when they search. This is known as their search intent. As Google wants to give searchers what they want, you’ll struggle to rank for keywords unless you can create content that aligns with intent. 

For example, people searching for “backlink checker” are clearly looking for a free tool. We know this because all of the top-ranking results are free tools.

People searching for "backlink checker" are looking for a free tool

To stand virtually any chance of ranking for this keyword, you’ll need to create a free tool. Unless you have a backlink database like ours, that will be almost impossible. 

For that reason, we recommend analyzing the top-ranking results for the three Cs of search intent to figure out a keyword’s ranking difficulty for you.

  1. Content type – Are they blog posts, landing pages, product pages, or something else?
  2. Content format – Are they listicles, how-tos, recipes, tools, or something else?
  3. Content angle – Is there a dominant selling point, like how easy it is?

Learn more: What Is Search Intent? A Complete Guide for Beginners

Quality

If the top-ranking pages for your keyword are high quality, it’ll take more time and effort to compete. 

For example, the folks ranking #1 for “best air purifier” tested 47 air purifiers over eight years to make their recommendation. It’s going to cost an awful lot of time, effort, and money to compete on content quality.

It would be hard to compete with the top-ranking page for "best air purifier" on content

Compare this to the top results for many other queries that have no background information on how recommendations were chosen. It’ll likely be much easier to beat these on content quality than the former. 

Based on your assessment of the four attributes above, you can give keywords a “ranking potential” score like so:

How to score a keyword's ranking potential

Creating a keyword strategy from this process means combining everything into one document. You can use our free template for this. It’s a simple spreadsheet with the following data points and conditional formatting:

  • Keyword
  • Traffic Potential (TP)
  • Business Potential (BP)
  • Ranking Potential (RP)
Example keyword strategy

This strategy document lets you see the most promising keywords at a glance.

For example, if we assess a few keywords for our hypothetical computer parts store, the keyword “amd ryzen 5 3600” has high TP, BP, and RP. So the row is all green.

Example of a good keyword to prioritize

On the other hand, “how to install ram on pc” has high TP but low BP and RP. So the row is mostly red. 

Example of a not-so-good keyword

Your keyword strategy from here is simple: prioritize targeting keywords with the most traffic, business, and ranking potential. 

Keep learning

If you want to learn more about finding, prioritizing, and ranking for keywords, read these:



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Google On Traffic Diversity As A Ranking Factor

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Google answers the question of whether traffic diversity is a ranking factor for SEO

Google’s SearchLiaison tweeted encouragement to diversify traffic sources, being clear about the reason he was recommending it. Days later, someone followed up to ask if traffic diversity is a ranking factor, prompting SearchLiaison to reiterate that it is not.

What Was Said

The question of whether diversity of traffic was a ranking factor was elicited from a previous tweet in a discussion about whether a site owner should be focusing on off-site promotion.

Here’s the question from the original discussion that was tweeted:

“Can you please tell me if I’m doing right by focusing on my site and content – writing new articles to be found through search – or if I should be focusing on some off-site effort related to building a readership? It’s frustrating to see traffic go down the more effort I put in.”

SearchLiaison split the question into component parts and answered each one. When it came to the part about off-site promotion, SearchLiaison (who is Danny Sullivan), shared from his decades of experience as a journalist and publisher covering technology and search marketing.

I’m going to break down his answer so that it’s clearer what he meant

This is the part from the tweet that talks about off-site activities:

“As to the off-site effort question, I think from what I know from before I worked at Google Search, as well as my time being part of the search ranking team, is that one of the ways to be successful with Google Search is to think beyond it.”

What he is saying here is simple, don’t limit your thinking about what to do with your site to thinking about how to make it appeal to Google.

He next explains that sites that rank tend to be sites that are created to appeal to people.

SearchLiaison continued:

“Great sites with content that people like receive traffic in many ways. People go to them directly. They come via email referrals. They arrive via links from other sites. They get social media mentions.”

What he’s saying there is that you’ll know that you’re appealing to people if people are discussing your site in social media, if people are referring the site in social media and if other sites are citing it with links.

Other ways to know that a site is doing well is when when people engage in the comments section, send emails asking follow up questions, and send emails of thanks and share anecdotes of their success or satisfaction with a product or advice.

Consider this, fast fashion site Shein at one point didn’t rank for their chosen keyword phrases, I know because I checked out of curiosity. But they were at the time virally popular and making huge amounts of sales by gamifying site interaction and engagement, propelling them to become a global brand. A similar strategy propelled Zappos when they pioneered no-questions asked returns and cheerful customer service.

SearchLiaison continued:

“It just means you’re likely building a normal site in the sense that it’s not just intended for Google but instead for people. And that’s what our ranking systems are trying to reward, good content made for people.”

SearchLiaison explicitly said that building sites with diversified content is not a ranking factor.

He added this caveat to his tweet:

“This doesn’t mean you should get a bunch of social mentions, or a bunch of email mentions because these will somehow magically rank you better in Google (they don’t, from how I know things).”

Despite The Caveat…

A journalist tweeted this:

“Earlier this week, @searchliaison told people to diversify their traffic. Naturally, people started questioning whether that meant diversity of traffic was a ranking factor.

So, I asked @iPullRank what he thought.”

SearchLiaison of course answered that he explicitly said it’s not a ranking factor and linked to his original tweet that I quoted above.

He tweeted:

“I mean that’s not exactly what I myself said, but rather repeat all that I’ll just add the link to what I did say:”

The journalist responded:

“I would say this is calling for publishers to diversify their traffic since you’re saying the great sites do it. It’s the right advice to give.”

And SearchLiaison answered:

“It’s the part of “does it matter for rankings” that I was making clear wasn’t what I myself said. Yes, I think that’s a generally good thing, but it’s not the only thing or the magic thing.”

Not Everything Is About Ranking Factors

There is a longstanding practice by some SEOs to parse everything that Google publishes for clues to how Google’s algorithm works. This happened with the Search Quality Raters guidelines. Google is unintentionally complicit because it’s their policy to (in general) not confirm whether or not something is a ranking factor.

This habit of searching for “ranking factors” leads to misinformation. It takes more acuity to read research papers and patents to gain a general understanding of how information retrieval works but it’s more work to try to understand something than skimming a PDF for ranking papers.

The worst approach to understanding search is to invent hypotheses about how Google works and then pore through a document to confirm those guesses (and falling into the confirmation bias trap).

In the end, it may be more helpful to back off of exclusively optimizing for Google and focus at least equally as much in optimizing for people (which includes optimizing for traffic). I know it works because I’ve been doing it for years.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Asier Romero

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The Complete Guide to Google My Business for Local SEO

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The Complete Guide to Google My Business

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that business owners can use to manage their online presence across Google Search and Google Maps.

This profile also puts out important business details, such as address, phone number, and operating hours, making it easily accessible to potential customers. 

Google My Business profile shown on Google MapsGoogle My Business profile shown on Google Maps

When you click on a business listing in the search results it will open a detailed sidebar on the right side of the screen, providing comprehensive information about the business. 

This includes popular times, which show when the business is busiest, a Q&A section where potential users can ask questions and receive responses from the business or other customers, and a photos and videos section that showcases products and services. Customer reviews and ratings are also displayed, which are crucial for building trust and credibility.

Business details on Google My Business profileBusiness details on Google My Business profile

Using Google My Business for Local SEO

Having an optimized Google Business Profile ensures that your business is visible, searchable, and can attract potential customers who are looking for your products and services.

  • Increased reliance on online discovery: More consumers are going online to search and find local businesses, making it crucial to have a GMB listing.
  • Be where your customers are searching: GMB ensures your business information is accurate and visible on Google Search and Maps, helping you stay competitive.
  • Connect with customers digitally: GMB allows customers to connect with your business through various channels, including messaging and reviews.
  • Build your online reputation: GMB makes it easy for customers to leave reviews, which can improve your credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Location targeting: GMB enables location-based targeting, showing your ads to people searching for businesses in your exact location.
  • Measurable results: GMB provides actionable analytics, allowing you to track your performance and optimize your listing.

How to Set Up Google My Business

If you already have a profile and need help claiming, verifying, and/or optimizing it, skip to the next sections.

If you’re creating a new Google My Business profile, here’s a step-by-step guide:

Access or Create your Google AccountAccess or Create your Google Account

Step 1: Access or Create your Google Account:

If you don’t already have a Google account, follow these steps to create one:

  • Visit the Google Account Sign-up Page: Go to the Google Account sign-up page and click on “Create an account.”
  • Enter Your Information: Fill in the required fields, including your name, email address, and password.
  • Verify Your Account: Google will send a verification email to your email address. Click on the link in the email to confirm your account.

Step 2:  Access Google My Business

Business name on Google My BusinessBusiness name on Google My Business

Step 3: Enter Your Business Name and Category

  • Type in your exact business name. Google will suggest existing businesses as you type
  • If your business is not listed, fully type out the name as it appears
  • Search for and select your primary business category

Adding business address to Google My Business profileAdding business address to Google My Business profile

Step 4: Provide Your Business Address

  • If you have a physical location where customers can visit, select “Yes” and enter your address.
  • If you are a service area business without a physical location, select “No” and enter your service area.

Adding contact information to Google My Business profileAdding contact information to Google My Business profile

Step 5: Add Your Contact Information

  • Enter your business phone number and website URL
  • You can also create a free website based on your GMB information

Complete Your ProfileComplete Your Profile

Step 6: Complete Your Profile

To complete your profile, add the following details:

  • Hours of Operation: Enter your business’s operating hours to help customers plan their visits.
  • Services: List the services your business offers to help customers understand what you do.
  • Description: Write a detailed description of your business to help customers understand your offerings.

Now that you know how to set up your Google My Business account, all that’s left is to verify it. 

Verification is essential for you to manage and update business information whenever you need to, and for Google to show your business profile to the right users and for the right search queries. 

If you are someone who wants to claim their business or is currently on the last step of setting up their GMB, this guide will walk you through the verification process to solidify your business’ online credibility and visibility.

How to Verify Google My Business

There are several ways you can verify your business, including:

  • Postcard Verification: Google will send a postcard to your business address with a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Phone Verification: Google will call your business phone number and provide a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Email Verification: If you have a business email address, you can use it to verify your listing.
  • Instant Verification: If you have a Google Analytics account linked to your business, you can use instant verification.

How to Claim & Verify an Existing Google My Business Profile

If your business has an existing Google My Business profile, and you want to claim it, then follow these steps:

Sign in to Google AccountSign in to Google Account

Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business

Access Google My Business: Go to the Google My Business website and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, create one by following the sign-up process.

Search for Your BusinessSearch for Your Business

Step 2: Search for Your Business

Enter your business name in the search bar to find your listing. If your business is already listed, you will see it in the search results.

Request access to existing Google My Business accountRequest access to existing Google My Business account

Step 3: Claim Your Listing

If your business is not already claimed, you will see a “Claim this business” button. Click on this button to start the claiming process.

Editing business information on Google My BusinessEditing business information on Google My Business

Step 4: Complete Your Profile

Once your listing is verified, you can complete your profile by adding essential business information such as:

  • Business Name: Ensure it matches your business name.
  • Address: Enter your business address accurately.
  • Phone Number: Enter your business phone number.
  • Hours of Operation: Specify your business hours.
  • Categories: Choose relevant categories that describe your business.
  • Description: Write a brief description of your business.

Step 5: Manage Your Listing

Regularly check and update your listing to ensure it remains accurate and up-to-date. Respond to customer reviews and use the insights provided by Google Analytics to improve your business.

Unverified Google My Business profileUnverified Google My Business profile

Step 6: Verification 

Verify your business through postcard, email, or phone numbers as stated above. 

Now that you have successfully set up and verified your Google My Business listing, it’s time to optimize it for maximum visibility and effectiveness. By doing this, you can improve your local search rankings, increase customer engagement, and drive more conversions.

How to Optimize Google My Business

Here are the tips that I usually do when I’m optimizing my GMB account: 

    1. Complete Your Profile: Start by ensuring every section applicable to your business is filled out with accurate and up-to-date information. Use your real business name without keyword stuffing to avoid suspension. Ensure your address and phone number are consistent with those on your website and other online directories, and add a link to your website and social media accounts.
    2. Optimize for Keywords: Integrate relevant keywords into your business description, services, and posts. However, avoid stuffing your GMB profile with keywords, as this can appear spammy and reduce readability.
    3. Add Backlinks: Encourage local websites, blogs, and business directories to link to your GMB profile. 
  1. Select Appropriate Categories: Choose the most relevant primary category for your business to help Google understand what your business is about. Additionally, add secondary categories that accurately describe your business’s offerings to capture more relevant search traffic.
  2. Encourage and Manage Reviews: Ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your profile, as reviews significantly influence potential customers. Respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional and timely manner. Addressing negative feedback shows that you value customer opinions and are willing to improve.
  3. Add High-Quality Photos and Videos: Use high-quality images for your profile and cover photos that represent your business well. Upload additional photos of your products, services, team, and premises. Adding short, engaging videos can give potential customers a virtual tour or highlight key services, enhancing their interest.

By following this comprehensive guide, you have successfully set up, verified, and optimized your GMB profile. Remember to continuously maintain and update your profile to ensure maximum impact and success.

Key Takeaway: 

With more and more people turning to Google for all their needs, creating, verifying, and optimizing your Google My Business profile is a must if you want your business to be found. 

Follow this guide to Google My Business, and you’re going to see increased online presence across Google Search and Google Maps in no time.

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

LinkedIn is launching several new features for people who publish newsletters on its platform.

The professional networking site wants to make it easier for creators to grow their newsletter audiences and engage readers.

More People Publishing Newsletters On LinkedIn

The company says the number of LinkedIn members publishing newsletter articles has increased by 59% over the past year.

Engagement on these creator-hosted newsletters is also up 47%.

With this growing interest, LinkedIn is updating its newsletter tools.

A New Way To View & Comment

One of the main changes is an updated reading experience that displays comments alongside the newsletter articles.

This allows readers to view and participate in discussions more easily while consuming the content.

See an example of the new interface below.

Screenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Design Your Own Cover Images

You can now use Microsoft’s AI-powered Designer tool to create custom cover images for their newsletters.

The integration provides templates, size options, and suggestions to help design visually appealing covers.

More Subscriber Notifications

LinkedIn is improving the notifications sent to newsletter subscribers to drive more readership.

When a new issue is published, subscribers will receive email alerts and in-app messages. LinkedIn will also prompt your followers to subscribe.

Mention Other Profiles In Articles

You can now embed links to other LinkedIn profiles and pages directly into their newsletter articles.

This lets readers click through and learn more about the individuals or companies mentioned.

In the example below, you can see it’s as easy as adding a link.

1718346362 491 LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter ToolsScreenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Preview Links Before Publishing

Lastly, LinkedIn allows you to access a staging link that previews the newsletter URL before hitting publish.

This can help you share and distribute their content more effectively.

Why SEJ Cares

As LinkedIn continues to lean into being a publishing platform for creators and thought leaders, updates that enhance the newsletter experience are noteworthy for digital marketers and industry professionals looking to build an audience.

The new tools are part of LinkedIn’s broader effort to court creators publishing original content on its platform amid rising demand for newsletters and knowledge-sharing.

How This Can Help You

If you publish a newsletter on LinkedIn, these new tools can help you design more visually appealing content, grow your subscriber base, interact with your audience through comments, and preview your content before going live.


Featured Image: Tada Images/Shutterstock

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