Believe it or not but the keyword selection is the foundation of the SEO (and of course of PPC).
You may eventually ever have listened about on-page and off-page factor optimisation, about changing meta tags and so on. That's is true, they are very important factors as well.
However, if you haven't previously selected the keywords you would like to optimise your site or your campaign, everything is going to be pointless.
More than often I have to collaborate with customers that look at me like an alien, especially when I try to cover this topic.
They believe that hiring a copywriter is enough, and all can be easily packed once something about their products or services has been written. In certain way this is again correct, but this must be done with a pinch of salt in mind.
In fact using a very expanded keyword list, while not interconnecting the topics (possibly expanding them in more pages) and appropriately repeating the keywords won't contribute at your SEO peace of mind.
Non experienced copy writers (from an SEO point of view) can write good content of course, but what is the purpose of a page if it is not able to drive qualified users to your site?
Reaching a very qualified audience is the key thing after all, and there is no other way to do it apart from ensuring you have carefully selected your keywords in a first basis.
So if I correctly select my keyword I've already won…
No this is not properly correct. After you defined what are the topics you would like to cover, the best thing to do is create a theme map. In other words, you have to create a visual representation of your site while assigning to each page a set of keywords.
This is critical as you may incur in some keyword clash, promoting the same keyword throughout many pages. I'm not saying this is impossible, but optmising for the same term across multiple pages may generate some internal competition (which is not beneficial at all); thus without considering the user experience. In landing on a page with keyword A on page X, users are likely to read about the topic, which will be either reperted on page Y, or somehow contradicted to a point it may generate more confusion in his head.
On top of this, always consider the unlikeability to achieve good results for the same keyword for two different pages at the same time, so it is worth to concentrate the efforts in one direction only.
Once this is done, finally it is the moment of the on-page factor optimisation (content, meta tags, anchor text etc) and to consider the keyword density and proximity.
It's not so complicate; it's just a matter of methodology.
I've read something about long-tail keywords and I'm confused
There is no award, little traffic, and virtually no value for ranking on page 2 or page 3, even if it is for an exceptionally competitive and high traffic keyword like "credit cards".
That is when long-tail keywords come to help.
Long tail keywords are made by at least four keywords (excluding stop words), therefore are more specific to what you sell or what you serve and easy to be ranked. For example "small business web design" or "tourism site ranking improvement".
Long tail keywords are less competitive and able to generate traffic that is certainly worth considering as it is statistically proven that the conversions are more likely to come from the long tail rather than the top 10/20 keywords normally selected.
However, as a long tail keyword is used with less frequency more than often there is not an easy way to expand the keyword list in the same way as the customer would probably expect, neither to provide some sort of numerical forecast on how much traffic a keyword may generate.
As the long-tail keywords are formed by the "generic keywords" plus the extra topic related keywords, it is quite usual that a document is optimized since the beginning, and no further actions are required.
For example, if "solar panel" is one of my keywords, "solar panel on a roof" is a long tail keyword that doesn't really require to be selected and included into the original keyword selection document. This is because being the roof one of the two places where you can install a solar panel, it is clear that sooner or later you will include such a word into your copy that unequivocally became tailored even for the long tail.
Do I recommend using long tail keywords?
Of course I do. And I believe that I've provided many points to let you understand why you should consider them as well.
However, I would like to provide a couple of suggestions on the best way to select and integrate your long tail keywords into your copy.
- Create your keyword list
- Do some computations to forecast how much traffic you would be able to generate from each keyword, then divide your list into high-competitive long term keywords and low-competitive keywords.
- Find the intersection between the two groups and pick up those keywords that may provide a good chance to perform in both the directions.
- Write your copy
- Use the other keywords and expand them to make them possible acquire a specific portion of your audience, then use them to create the additional copy (pages) as much as you can.
As soon as your web site is live, using one of the many web analytics package you would be able to assess the impact of your keyword strategy, and eventually consider refining both the generic keywords and the long tail one.