Hello hello, creatives!
You already know that we love all things SEO around here (duh, it’s kind of our thing), and how we believe that mastering SEO is your secret weapon for propelling your success in business.
But do you know what makes the magic in SEO? It’s all in the keywords. (Cue Happy Gilmore: “it’s all in the hips”).
Picking just the right keywords is both an art and a science.
The perfect keyword for your business is probably not some version of [your industry + your location]. That’s just far too broad for almost everybody. Sure, if you’re a wedding planner in Atlanta you should definitely try to target the keyword “Wedding Planner Atlanta”, but guess what? That keyword formula is likely very competitive, meaning that it will take a lot of time, money, or both, for you to get ranked on the 1st page for that.
So here’s where the magic comes in.
When you hire an SEO expert to curate the perfect keywords for you, you’ll get a list of keywords that are in the sweet spot between traffic and competition.
Let’s break this down.
The ideal keyword has a lot of people searching for it every month.
However, this perfect keyword also has low competition, meaning that other businesses aren’t showing up for it.
The good news for you?
With this kind of keyword, you’ll know that lots of people are looking for it, AND you have a good chance of ranking well for it.
So, how does an SEO specialist discover these for you?
It’s all about the data, babe.
Anyone worth their salt (or bitcoin, or paypal wallet, or your payment method of choice) will do heavy research into search trend data, likely using multiple tools.
Sure, you could do some of this yourself, but to really maximize the potential of your keywords, it takes a trained eye to see the meaning in the data.
Keyword Competitive Research
Here’s the other great part. An SEO expert can see what keywords your direct competitors get found for. Let’s say your competitor gets found for something that you also want to be found for. You have a choice. You can target that keyword with lots of detailed blogging, updating your site content, and other backend SEO.
Or, you can decide to target a similar, but different keyword (using our high traffic/low competition formula). With this, you’ll carve out a niche for yourself in your industry, creating a reputation for your business online.
Let’s continue with our wedding planner Atlanta example (keep in mind, these are just examples for the sake of this post, and I haven’t done the data on these keywords).
You really want to be found for “Wedding planner Atlanta”, but lots of other (bigger, more established) businesses already get found for that. It doesn’t have the low competition you’re seeking.
So, you decide to target the keyword “Creative Wedding Planner Atlanta” or “Full service wedding planning Atlanta”.
Do you notice one immediate difference? These keywords are longer.
A rule of thumb in keywords: the longer the phrase (aka, keyword), the easier it is to rank for that word, and the higher the conversion rate. Fewer people search for it, but those people who do are highly motivated and more likely to click through.
After a while of writing blog posts targeting yourself as a “Creative Wedding Planner in Atlanta” you’ll (likely) start ranking for that keyword. You may not get ranked highly for “Wedding Planner Atlanta”, but that’s ok, because you’ve carved out a reputation for yourself within that field.
And once you define that reputation, and Google starts to recognize you for it, you’ll get more of the kind of clients you really want.
This is the magic of SEO. YOU get to define your own reputation, and YOU tell Google who you are. So many people are intimidated by SEO and avoid it because it seems too far out of their control. But that’s just not really true.
When you curate the perfect keywords, the work hard to target them (we’ve written a whole series on how to do this, read all about blogging and link building), then YOU are in charge of your SEO-destiny.
Have you ever heard the phrase “the riches are in the niches”? This is what SEO does for you. By clearly defining these niche (aka longer) keywords, you’re setting yourself up for success. And that, my friends, is what gives you the competitive edge.
How to Get an Edge on your Competition
The keywords are at the heart of this, but when your SEO specialist does keyword research, you’ll also discover a lot of key information about what’s making your competitors successful online. (We want to clarify–this information is all readily available online to anyone, for free in many cases. It’s totally ethical to do this kind of research, and it isn’t ‘spying’, it’s research that can go both ways. It’s kind of like a football team watching tapes of the opposing team’s winning games. You’re just studying the competition, and that’s A-ok.).
Details we discover during competitive research:
1. What competitors are are out there, and often times it isn’t who we expect!
2. We discover what keywords competitors are ranking for
4. We can figure out their popular content (so we can be competitive in that space too!)
5. We can look at competitors backlinks and see who is linking to them, so you can target guest posts/links from those same sites.
A note on competition and our own mental sanity:
Yes, competitive research is essential for a growing business. But–it’s not something that’s really good for our own mental state. It can quickly make us feel ‘less than’, insecure about our own position in business, and just generally feel icky. That’s a terrible feeling, and we have ALL been there. So, what do you do when it’s essential, but makes you feel terrible? Outsource it. We care about YOU and your business, so that’s why we think it’s critical to find someone you trust, whoever that may be, to do this important but emotionally hard work for you. We’re cheering you on, babes.