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The importance of keywords in search engine optimization

This week has been about getting back to basics with search engine optimization. The topics in this week’s blog series are aimed at educating the small business owner on the concepts behind search engine ranking. Knowing and implementing these basic concepts will allow any website to maintain their ranking through any Google update which are generally aimed at getting rid of SEO loopholes, tricks and black-hat methods.

So far this week we have discussed relevancy, linking, social media and blogging as they relate to search engine optimization. But to pull all this information together we have to discuss keywords. I wrote a post on keyword research in support of last week’s webinar on advertising. The concepts are basically the same and there is a lot of great information in that post so take a few minutes to review that one before continuing with this post.

Keywords really are the keys to getting your website found online. A keyword is simply the word or phrase that is typed into a search engine by someone looking for something online. There are billions of searches every month so how do you know who is searching for your product or service and are they ready the right potential client or customer? This is truly the most important aspect of search engine optimization-it all comes down to knowing how your ideal customers are searching for your product or service so they can find you, not your competitors.

There are a number of tools that I use to do keyword research, but I always start with the free keyword tool from Google. There may be an impression that if it’s a free tool its not the best, but Google has a vested interest in providing as much information about what people are searching for because that’s how they make their money, through keyword based advertising. Here’s a quick tip on getting the most out of the tool, sign in using your gmail account or if you don’t have one, sign up because they provide more information to people who have accounts. You do not have to pay for any ads ever, you just have to give them the opportunity to market to you.

So here’s how it works. You can either start by entering a website or a term that you think is relevant. Going back to our plastic surgeon example, let’s start with entering the term “face lift”. Here is what I got below. you will notice that Google will group the keywords into relevant categories:

search engine optimization for plastic surgeons

So very quickly a plastic surgeon can eliminate groups of keywords that are not applicable, like “Non Surgical” and “Without Surgery”. Ideally a business would work with one category to start. For this example we will go with “Procedures” since that seems to be the most relevant. If you look at each of these categories, you will notice that competition is High for all of the keywords in all categories. This is a very competitive space online, partly because there are a lot of people searching but also because plastic surgeons have discovered that advertising online through search engine optimization is very inexpensive relative to other forms of new patient acquisition. So this means that a business just getting started with their ranking for these search terms is going to have to be a little more patient and will probably have to spend a little more money on paid online advertising in order to get to the first page of the search engines.

There are 24 terms in this category, all with high competition but some with much higher estimated search volume than others. Since there isn’t an option to go with a low competition option. Interestingly, the term “face lift,” our original search term, has a high estimated search volume and is listed as medium competition so that should certainly be on our list of final keywords. The others I would recommend for a first pass would be “face lift procedure,” “face lift procedures,” “facelift procedure,” “plastic surgery procedures,” and “cosmetic surgery procedures.”

From here I would put these terms into other paid tools I use, but I would also start a conversation with my client about who their ideal patient is and whether or not they would imagine that person entering these terms in the search engines. In general, if someone is looking for information about procedures, they have probably already decided they are interested in getting a face lift but want to know more about the surgery itself.

Again, I would do more research from here for my clients, but this is how I start  every campaign for any client. Knowing the keywords is critical in designing a website, social media property, blog post or video. Every piece of content online should have a clear purpose based on the keyword that it is targeting. That way the right people will find the right information online.

I encourage you to take advantage of the many webinars I offer on my Education page to learn more about keywords and how they fit into your online presence. I am taking time off for the holidays but look for a great new webinar series starting on January 2!


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