Stop Missing the Mark: 3 Keyword Targeting Best Practices

by Sarah Hayes on April 11, 2017

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Most business functions are fairly straightforward - an action is performed, such as discounting a product, and a result ensues: hopefully, in this case, a bump in sales that justified offering that discount. When it comes to marketing, however, that reliable result is no longer a guarantee. The relationship between a potential customer, your keywords, and a search engine's algorithms is a fluctuating one, and if you've been treating your keywords as if they exist in a vacuum, you're hamstringing the potential performance of your SEO and content. Keywords are dynamic, and their importance and outcome can change at any point: that's why it's crucial you avoid a set-and-forget mindset with keyword targeting.

Your Customers Will Get It Wrong

You know that proofreading your content is important. Avoiding obvious typos and misspellings is brand identity 101, right? In the eyes of individuals searching for your business, that might not necessarily be true, though. As they mumble through speech-to-text, stumble over a qwerty key or two, or blank out on a major descriptive word, suddenly that clear path to your page is fraught with obstacles. While you should definitely get a reliable foothold in correctly-spelled keywords, don't shun the road less traveled; it might just be the one a lucrative customer is strolling down. Do some keyword research to find out common misspellings of your industry, products or even brand name and secure them alongside their "better" counterparts.

Kissmetrics' Beth Morgan also reminds marketers that searchers of different interest levels and knowledge levels use different terms, and you should capitalize on that variance. Remember that a customer searching for your products or services for the first time might not know how to phrase what you do: see the search through their eyes and look for creative ways to phrase your solutions that avoid using "insider" terms.

Watch Your Unintentional Frequency

While your content is enthusiastically representing your brand to a reader, it might be sending mixed messages to a search engine at the same time. For highly-specialized industries, a content creation team might struggle to phrase the same concepts in multiple ways throughout a lengthy block of text, and may repeat themselves a few times. While the keyword or phrase you're aiming for might hit your desired saturation percentage on the nose, the content surrounding it can accidentally sabotage your goal and eclipse the main focus. Before going "live" on new page copy or other content, always plug your entire piece of content into a frequency detection tool to see if your content writers might need to break out a thesaurus to keep your desired keywords front and center.

Support Your Authority

It's a harsh truth, but it's one that always bears repeating: using your desired keywords, even in the "right" frequency, is not enough to turn Google's head. Make sure your secondary and even your tertiary keywords make logical sense alongside your target keywords; without enough believable content support, even the strongest keywords will topple and leave you with disappointing ROI. As R.L. Adams notes in Forbes, copy faux pas like spun content, deuplicate content and grammatical errors also won't escape Google's notice, so treat your chosen keywords with the respect they deserve. Search engines aside, thin content will also go over like a lead balloon with been-there-done-that readers.

Rather than envisioning keywords as a single path between where your business stands and and where you'd like it to be, think of them instead as street signs across a vast web of interests. Placed well, they can direct a multitude of searchers to a common result, even if they came from vastly different places. With a little creativity and a willingness to envision the different motivations of your customers, you'll get considerably more mileage out of your keywords - no matter what they may be.

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Sarah Hayes

Project Manager at 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. A self described life long learner that thrives on detail, I love bringing these skills to the table to help others succeed.

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