Choosing the right keywords to include in your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy requires combining an intimate knowledge of your industry with SEO best practices. Recently, we shared how to choose keywords with buying intent, which is critical if your purpose is to generate leads.
In this post, we walk you through a five-step process for choosing the right keywords for your firm’s SEO strategy.
1. Create a list of terms you believe prospects are searching
Before you start doing any research or investigating search volume, create a wish list of keyword phrases. Ideally, this will be around 20 keywords but can be longer if you have a large B2B website with a variety of products and services.
The list is a starting point and should include terms that you believe people are typing into search engines to find the products or services your firm provides. If possible, get input from multiple departments at your firm, including your sales and customer service teams as they speak to clients on a regular basis and are familiar with terms the clients and prospects are using.
2. Do competitive research
Once you have your wish list, check out what keywords your competitors are targeting. We recommend identifying 3 – 5 competitors who offer almost exactly the same products/services or at least a majority of what you offer. There may be key differentiators, like price or quality, but choose firms that prospects will view as similar to your firm.
Poke around on their websites and look at the headings they use, the type of language used in the copy, and the names of service or product pages. If they have a blog, it’s helpful to look through their posts to see what types of topics they address as well as the terms they include in the titles of the blog posts. Note any common terms or phrases that you see that you hadn’t considered but think are relevant.
3. Do keyword volume/difficulty analysis
Now that you have a wish list and a list of relevant phrases, it’s time to do research. For many firms, this is the point where they bring in an SEO specialist to do the keyword research and analyze the results.
However, if you want to take a pass at it yourself, Google’s Keyword Planner is a good tool to try. Simply add in your list of terms and get the keyword volume and difficulty. Additionally, there are paid tools like SEM Rush and Moz that have keyword volume tools and will make recommendations for keyword phrases as well.
4. Analyze the research
Once you’ve performed the research, it’s time to move into analysis mode. Having a good knowledge of your industry is important at this point to weed out unrelated terms. When analyzing the keyword research, the goal is to choose the best match terms with the highest volume and moderate difficulty rating.
At this point, it’s also good to focus on terms that are specific to your business and are buying terms. Check out the buying terms article for more detail. You do want to have a good mix of specific long tail keywords and a bit more broad, top of funnel, search terms as well. Pay close attention to the search volume. If a word has zero search volume, either it’s off the mark or it’s too specific.
The size of your B2B web design layout and how may pages you have will dictate how many keywords to include in your SEO strategy. Keep in mind that similar keywords can all be optimized on the same page. For example, “Accounting Software” and “Accountant Software” are very similar terms and can be used interchangeably on a page.
5. Test out your research via Google Ads
After finalizing and implementing your SEO strategy, it’s time to track and review your performance. However, it can take anywhere from 3 – 6 months to start seeing results from a new SEO strategy. This is especially dependent on other factors like the age of your website’s domain, the number of new pages, amount of copy on the pages, hosting provider, etc.
In our experience, the quickest way to get feedback on an SEO strategy is to concurrently run Google Ads for those same terms. You can instantly see the search queries leads that convert from Google Ads are using to get to your site and evaluate whether the leads are in your target market. Watching these closely for a month and evaluating every lead can help you refine and improve your SEO strategy.