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Search Engine Optimization & SEO Keyword Research & Data

You own your business, so it makes sense that you’re the best person to map out your SEO keyword strategy. After all, you know your business inside and out, have owned it for years, and watched it grow and transform. No one knows your business like you, right?

Don’t take this the wrong way, but absolutely not. In fact, if you’re a founder, owner, CEO, or veteran employee, you might be most susceptible to keyword blindness* when it comes to representing your company online.

(*Keyword blindness is the inability to see what keywords are the best for your own website. Symptoms include but are not limited to: disbelief, frustration, and doubt. Ask your local SEO agency for more detailed examples of CEOs who have suffered from keyword blindness).

Why are you so susceptible? For one thing, it may be true that you know your business and industry from the inside-out. Unfortunately, that knowledge doesn’t always trickle down to your prospects without confusing them, or worse, turning them off. So while you may be a subject matter expert in your field, that isn’t going to help you if you can’t turn your wealth of knowledge into a lead-driving machine.

Here’s how to let data–not instinct–inform your SEO strategy:

1. Figure out what’s worked for you in the past. This is easy if you have Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google AdWords, or other tracking software set up on your website. What pages have the highest conversions? What blog post got the most engagements, and what topics did it cover? In Search Console, what search queries lead the most people to land on your website?

These are relatively easy-to-answer questions if you’ve configured your web properties. You can find keywords, queries, long tail keywords, and locational searches that have driven traffic to your site. If you haven’t configured these tools yet, now’s a good time to set these applications up. Need help? There’s a huge knowledge base about what tools work best, including our blog, which covers all things SEO and PPC.

2. If there’s no historical data, put yourself in your best customers’ shoes. How did your most loyal clients find you online? What pain(s) have you solved for them that keep them coming back to you again and again?

People tend to search when a problem arises, such as a running toilet. Perhaps you know that they need to replace their ballcock, but that’s only because you know what a ballcock is. Your average customer isn’t sure what needs to be fixed, they just know something needs to be fixed. It’s more important to rank for “toilet repair near me” than “who can replace my ballcock?”

By taking the customer’s approach versus the technical term approach, you can attract a lot more clients. Come up with a list of keyword phrases you think your customers might use to find you.

3. Test, track, optimize. Repeat. Remove your ego from the process by letting data guide your process. Remember, it doesn’t matter if your initial instincts about keywords were wrong. What’s important is finding which specific search terms actually attract new potential customers to your site.

Keyword research tools such as SEMRush can provide semantic keywords, which are words and phrases that frequently occur in the copy of web pages that rank well for your target keyword. For example, you might find out that people who typed “laser hair removal” into the search engine also looked for “waxing near me.” Using these semantically related keywords is a great way to not only improve your keyword ranking, but also attract other customers or to sell two services to one customer.

There are many other useful tools to use, such as a keyword planner or keyword explorer, which can give you a good idea of where to stat in your SEO strategy. When targeting keywords, you must constantly track and optimize, removing low-performing keywords and applying more resources to terms that drive traffic.

4. Think about what your competitors are doing. It’s important to realize that while you might consider a company your competitor in real life, they may not be competitors online at all. What qualifies as a “competitor” online is simply any website that takes clicks away from yours. So while a company that does not provide the same goods or services may not seem like a natural competitor, if they are ranking above your webpage in Google, they are.

With that kind of understanding of online competitors, we can examine how to use their successes to inform your campaigns. While ripping off your biggest competitor’s ad strategy is not a good idea, you can get some insight from their existing successful tactics.

If you use similar methodologies, such as ad programs or content topics, be sure to highlight your competitive advantage. Stay away from generic advantages like “quicker,” “faster,” or “cheaper.” If you’re ranking near your online competitors, those aren’t going to be tempting enough to steal clicks. You could also consider an offer, such as 10% off for new customers, to capture some of your competitors’ audience.

5. Don’t get emotionally attached to your brand messaging. This is a dangerous and common practice that we see frequently in our agency. It is your SEO agency’s job to make sense of the data, but they will never be able to get into the psyche of why prospects simply don’t speak the same way as artists, founders, tradespeople, or other kinds of professionals do when discussing their work. There’s nothing about that to be upset about.

We are fortunate to be marketers in a time when data is more accessible and informative than ever. Tap into the power of metrics to unlock your best-performing content, paid, and social campaigns! In many times in my career, I have applied data to marketing and advertising campaigns despite my personal disbelief that they would be successful. Ultimately, data does not lie. Being a web marketer means setting aside your personal preferences and beliefs, and allowing hard numbers to tell you about the vast audiences of people on the internet.