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6 Things to Consider Before Keywords

Now that Google has taken away organic keyword data, it’s a good time to deepen your understanding of organic search visitors and how they relate to your traffic and business. Here are 6 things you’ll need to consider carefully before crafting your new SEO strategy and optimizing content:

1. Visitor Intent

Figure out where you’ll meet your customer on their path to purchase. Keywords and content for a customer in the discovery phase is going to be different than for someone that knows what they want. Think about the difference in intent of the keyword “digital cameras” vs “Sony Alpha NEX-6” — now think about all the searches you might do on the path from one to the other.

Customer Journey

You may decide to build content that attracts visitors early in their buying process or to focus on people ready to buy. The approaches are not exclusive, but you are probably better setup for one than the other.

2. Clarity of Purpose

Think about #1 above, then plan your pages to provide visitors with the directions they need at their point on the journey. What information do they need right now? What’s the next step you want them to take? Bonus: What can you tell them that no one else can?

3. Medium & Media

A good ebook, infographic, slide deck, video or podcast might be more easily consumed by your audience. These formats might also give you more flexibility in terms of sharing and a greater opportunity to earn links. Think about different media formats before engaging your content writers. You might be better served by bringing in a graphic designer.

[slideshare id=28917457&doc=cheatsheetsforgoogleservices-131205034756-phpapp02]

Here’s a slideshare presentation that I like. You’ll notice that the content is publicly available and easy to use. But putting it in a deck makes it ultra portable and versatile.

4. Uniqueness

Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird have all made it harder for derivative content to stand out. How will you differentiate your content from everyone else’s? Maybe it’s tone. Maybe your strong brand. Maybe amazing images. Whatever it is, make sure you have a plan or your content will be lost in the online sea of sameness.

Eric Enge did a great post about this on Search Engine Watch. I suggest you give it a read.

5. Lifecycle

Are you creating a resource that will stand the test of time, or last at least until your next website redesign (e.g an FAQ)? Or, are you writing for a seasonal opportunity (e.g. Top 10 Christmas Gifts)? The line between the 2 can get blurry, but you should have an idea of how long you expect a piece to generate traffic. If you expect something to stick around or you want it to be evergreen, then make sure that you plan for occassional (maybe quarterly) reviews and updates.

6. Location & Proximity

With more than 40% of Google searches being local, you need to know where you are competing. Is your service only available in certain areas? Can you cheaply ship anywhere in the country? What percentage of your traffic comes from international visitors?

Google Analytics map of visit locations.

Look at Geo (Language & Location) reports in Google Analytics to get a feel for where your visitors are coming from. This should influence the terminology and topics you cover with content. There may also be local niche opportunities that you can capture quickly with a geographic modifier (e.g. buckhead housecleaning vs. Atlanta housecleaning vs housecleaning).

All the items above are critical to developing a winning SEO strategy. Unfortunately, many SEO conversations still center around keywords (usage, rankings and frequency). This keyword obsession is going to become less and less tenable in a world of semantic data, knowledge graphs, and social signals. Use the ideas here to shift your SEO thinking and planning toward strategy and tactics that will support you in 2014 and beyond.

Featured image: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Image by J. Finkelstein via WikiCommons 

Published in Marketing Ideas Working Blog

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