Five Strategies for SEO Success

You know how it is. Just when you feel confident that you’re really getting to grips with the mysterious world that is SEO … Google changes things again.

Mysterious just about sums up SEO really. The unique combination of art and science defies definition and even has something slightly other-worldy about it. Perhaps future generations of children will enjoy tales about a Harry Potter type hero who manages to master the rules of SEO and penetrate the Google kingdom?

But back to the present. In our last blog we looked at how Google is now changing its algorithms much more frequently and without necessarily making this public to the waiting world. So how can you ensure that your SEO is hitting the mark? Whether you are a business-based marketer or a digital marketing agency, what is the most effective way to do your keyword research in light of Google’s constant changes?

There are a wide variety of keyword research tools out there, many claiming to be the best. How do you know which is the best for your business? Whichever tool you choose, you need to make sure that it is capable of delivering the following five strategies for SEO success :

1. Keyword suggestion capabilities. Keyword research usually begins with brainstorming a list of terms – for example related to our product or service – for which you want your site to rank. An effective keyword research tool will take an original list of terms and offer up semantically-related terms that customers are using for searches. An excellent tool in this respect is Moz’s Keyword Explorer. It has the ability to phrase popular questions that people ask, and also to group keywords together in logical ways. Conversely Google’s Keyword Planner – which you would expect to excel in this respect – is quite limited in scope as it is narrowly focused on being a tool for advertisers.

Fundamentally, as long as the keyword research tool you choose is capable of making intelligent suggestions, it will be valuable in enabling you to obtaining some useful and accurate keyword research.

2. Search volume calculation. It is more difficult these days to get accurate search volume data. An increasing number of organic search terms are listed as ‘not provided’ by Google Analytics, which is frustrating when you are trying to find out more about how people are searching. Some keyword research tools do claim to offer solutions to this dilemma, so you need to make sure that you use the tool that has the most relevant information for your needs. You need to find out where the search volume data is sourced from, what evidence of accuracy is there, can search volumes be split out by device and location – and do they take account of seasonal trends.

You may find that there is not one keyword tool that can provide all these, and you may need to use a combination. But if key business decisions are being made based on search volumes then it is essential to to make sure the data is as reliable as possible.

3. Ranking accuracy. It is worth bearing in mind that ranking is about more than just our position. For starters, we need to look at the overall number of searches to compare like with like: for example is it better to be in 10th position for a query with 1000 searches or 15th for a query with 5000. So don’t just look at your position but at the overall picture: it is essential to know where the ranking tool is taking snapshots from and how they are weighted.

Also consider the two areas that Google is increasingly focussing on: personalisation and local search on SEO.

Google is now providing personalised recommendations driven and accompanied by rich data. For example results grouped by areas of interest, particular cuisines, or other attributes such as atmosphere. Google also uses machine learning to group venues into useful categories by interest and attributes: “popular with foodies,” “best lunch,” “recently opened,” “great beers” and so on.

Google is also suggesting “places for you”: local venues listed based on both your location history and your previous visits to other similar venues that indicate patterns and preferences. These local results often reside above traditional SEO listings.

All the above factors will affect your rankings and you need to find which keywords work best for you in all these respects.

4. Search results page analysis. The landscape of interfaces that consumers use to search are changing dramatically. From desktop to mobile to digital assistants we can now expect The Internet of Things to herald a new era of search interfaces, embedded in an increasing variety of Internet-enabled objects.

We can also expect Google’s search results to to update accordingly. In future, ranking first could include mobile answers, video results, or even be a response provided in a driverless car.

This will have a monumental impact on keyword research, and what you will need is a keyword research tool will be able to take into account a range of results including images, videos, and knowledge graphs results, and will be able to integrate with other data sources to give a clear picture of the impact of the search landscape on performance.

5. Competition. It’s essential to have a keyword research tool that shows you the market opportunity for your brand and where you currently stand against the competition. You can use competition and difficulty ratings to give you an idea of how many other sites are targeting your desired keywords. However, you can be sure that as your company is undertaking its keyword research, so your competitors will be also. In the world of digital marketing nothing stands still: as you implement your winning strategy, so they will implement theirs.

This does not mean that if a search term has a lot of competition, you shouldn’t aim to rank for it. However it does mean that you will need to try harder to get top rankings and you will need a keyword research tool that can provide you with a regularly updated granular competitor analysis. The ability to analyse the sites that are ranking well for each query then cross-referencing the metrics that you believe will improve performance can enable you to understand what does and does not work.

Reading through the above, two things are very apparent.

Firstly, the search landscape is constantly changing and to remain static is to lose ground. You need to be constantly evolving and developing your SEO strategy to stay ahead of the game.

Secondly, you are unlikely to find a single keyword research tool that will do everything you need it to do. Rather, you will need a bright and shiny tool bag with several different tools to cover every aspect and ensure that you are able to continually develop and maintain an effective SEO strategy.