So you have decided to make the leap into building your own business. Your product or service is ready to sell and you finally have finished the painstaking process of building your website. As your developer sets the website live you can’t wait for customers to start visiting the site and leads to start pouring in. However, as many new businesses learn that traffic and those all so important leads don’t come so easily. For many new websites the next step is figuring out how to drive new traffic and learning about the mysteries of SEO. So, what can a new website do to start gaining organic traffic and driving customers to their new website? Over the coming months we will try to answer this question by sharing SEO tips for new websites that will help you start generating organic traffic in the short term, while also preparing your website for long term success. This month will be focusing on Keyword Selection.
Use The Google Keyword Planner
The first step to any SEO campaign is to make sure that your pages are optimized for the keywords that your potential customers are searching for. For example if you are a business specializing in providing plumbing services in Los Angeles then your website should tell your potential customers and Google that it is relevant for the keyword they are searching for. How do you figure out what relevant keywords your users are searching for? There are many tools out there but Google provides a free tool called the Keyword Planner if you set up an Adwords Account. Google asks you to provide a credit card to set up an Adwords account, but you don’t need to spend money in order to use the tool. With the Keyword Planner you can type in keywords that you think your potential customers might use to find your website, and Google will show you the average monthly search volume for those keywords and will give you other relevant keyword ideas and their monthly search volumes. This is a great way to begin your search for what keywords to target.
As you can see above Google shows you a lot of information for the keyword you searched including the average monthly search volume, different search trends, other potential keywords and their monthly search volumes, and some Adwords specific information including competition and suggested bid. Though the Adwords information can be useful it can also throw you off when optimizing for SEO as the competition levels are Adwords specific and bid prices estimates. For our earlier example the most searched keyword is “plumber Los Angeles” with an average monthly search volume of 1000 searches. Because the searches are so high we might want to optimize one of our top pages like our homepage for this keyword. However, we also need to be careful because in some cases the most popular keyword or the one with the highest search volume might also be the most competitive.
Dealing With Competitive Keywords
In many cases the keyword with the most search volume will also be the keyword that the most websites are trying to rank for, making it very hard for a new website to compete. In this case even if we optimize our homepage to target that keyword it could take us a long time to rank on the first page of Google. This is because the websites we are competing with have been around longer and have built more authority through link building over time (we will discuss the concept of authority and link building in an upcoming blog post). As someone new to SEO it can be difficult to understand when a keyword is competitive or not. Unfortunately there are not a lot of free tools to understand SEO competition. The Adwords Keyword Planner can give some insights into competition levels in Adwords (High, Medium, and Low) which can indicate that the SEO competition is similar, but this is not always the case. One great free tool that can help is the Moz Toolbar but it requires some knowledge of terms like Page and Domain Authority which we will cover in a future post. However, for the purposes of explanation it is important to understand that in most cases even if a keyword is competitive it can be worth trying to rank for that keywords in the long term, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that website traffic has to suffer until the site eventually ranks for that popular keyword. So, what can be done in the meantime?
Short Term SEO Strategies
One of the major challenges for any new website is how to drive traffic when the most important keyword or set of keywords are too competitive to gain traction in the short term. Luckily, a website isn’t stuck only targeting one set of competitive keywords. Every page of a website can be optimized for multiple keywords. This means we can build multiple pages that target niche keywords that can drive customers to our business quicker than more competitive keywords. Niche keywords are typically keywords that are longer in length sometimes called long tail keywords and represent a more specific query that a potential customer is searching for. Sometimes these keywords can actually lead to more qualified traffic as well, because these potential customers are looking for more specific answers than broader keywords. A niche keyword might tie a specific service to a large location like tying a plumber’s drain cleaning service to the city of Los Angeles with the keyword “drain cleaning Los Angeles”. Another way to create a niche keyword is to tie a less competitive location to a general service for example targeting Santa Monica a smaller city within Los Angeles to the term plumber to create the keyword “plumber Santa Monica”. This can also apply to non location based keywords where we are looking for a longer more specific keyword to explain our page. While these long tail keywords might have less search volume they are also typically less competitive, which means a new website can start gaining traffic from these types of keywords quicker than more competitive keywords. Building pages that target clusters of niche or long tail keywords can therefore help a new website gain traffic in a shorter period of time.