By Jeff Kline

Blog

SEO for Chambers, Part 2: Keywords

Thursday, August 9, 2012

If you were hoping to catch a 500-pound marlin, you wouldn’t drop your line right off the side of the dock, at noon, with an earthworm as bait. Instead, you would take a fishing rig out at night into deeper waters, and bait your hook with something marlin naturally hunt, such as squid or mackerel. 

The same concept applies to SEO. To connect with your target audience amidst the vast ocean of search results, you must optimize your web content with the right keywords, using the most effective methods.

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WHAT ARE KEYWORDS?

Every search engine’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant search results possible. That relevancy is determined by how closely a website’s content matches a particular search query. 

To improve SEO, you can place carefully selected keywords within certain prominent elements of your webpage, in hopes that the right consumer will input the right search query…and come face to face with your website.

Choosing and using keywords effectively will assist search engines in connecting you with your target audience. 

 

7 STEPS TO USING KEYWORDS FOR SEO SUCCESS 

Step 1 – Identify your target audience.

Who are your potential chamber members – small business CEOs? Relocated business owners? Struggling entrepreneurs? What types of people have joined in the past? Identify specific qualities about the audience you want to target, such as age, employment status, and experience level. These demographics will help you understand what they need and how they search for it.

Step 2 – Create your keyword list.

Choosing keywords requires a combination of creativity, consumer insight, and access to a few free online tools. Your entire organization should have access to this list, so it can be referenced anytime someone is developing digital strategy or content.

There are a few things to consider when selecting your keywords:

  • The most effective keywords are actually key phrases. Phrases that consist of two or three words – AKA long tail keywords – target a niche audience and have a much higher conversion rate. For example: chamber membership.
  • What terms does your audience use to search? They might not necessarily be searching for chamber of commerce. Instead, they might search business networking, local networking events, or business associations. Use Google AdWords Keyword Tool and Google’s instant search function to discover popular variations of your current keywords.
  • Your brand name should not be considered a keyword. Instead, use keywords that identify the products, services or benefits you offer.
  • Focus on keywords that imply intent to buy. Keywords like public policy are less of a priority than phrases like chamber membership dues. The person who performs the latter search query is probably thinking about joining, but the former query might just be a search for information.

Step 3 – Choose focus terms for each page.

Your website as a whole will utilize multiple keywords, but each individual page should be centered on just one focus term. This results in extremely niched information, which improves both SEO and user experience. 

If your chamber was in Dallas, Texas, a focus term for one of your pages might be Dallas Legislation. Another page could focus on the topic Dallas Elections. Both pages might be categorized under the Public Policy menu item, but each page would depict its own unique topic. 

Step 4 – Integrate keywords naturally.

Don’t go overboard and try stuffing keywords into every sentence on your page. If you’ve chosen relevant keywords, they will integrate naturally into your web content. As Google urges, “Write for your audience, not for search engines.”

Step 5 – Optimize important web elements.

There are certain HTML elements that search engines use to categorize and index webpages. Be sure to use keywords atleast once within your title and header tags, as well as in the first few lines of text on your webpage.

Keywords can also play a role in encouraging people to click your link in search results. Use a keyword in your meta description to attract attention.

Step 6 – Don’t limit your keyword use to just your website.

Incorporate your keyword strategy into your entire digital presence – your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, your email marketing, and your blog. Doing so will create a cohesive online identity.

Step 7 – Analyze keyword performance

Keyword selection is a trial and error process. Sure, there are guidelines, but you’ll never know for sure how well a keyword will perform until you try it out. Use Google Analytics to figure out which keywords are bringing traffic to your page.

(If you’re not sure how to get started, click here to learn how to set up Google Analytics for your website.)

Once you’re set up and have access to the main menu, click Traffic Sources and then Overview. Set the date range at the top of the page. Then check out the pie chart to see how much of your traffic is coming from search engines. 

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Next, click Sources, Search, and then Organic. A list of keywords and their metrics will appear in the window. Do you see your targeted keywords? Are they bringing in traffic, or do you need to try something new?

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As I said before, the goal of search engines is to provide users with the most relevant search results possible. To be chosen as one of these “relevant search results,” you must develop your website to meet the needs of a specific audience.

Start by implementing these seven steps for effective keyword use. Then cast your line into the search engine’s current, and wait for a prospect to bite.

 

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