Spring is in the air, bringing thoughts of flowers blooming, spring break, and reevaluating the direction of your website. Alright, so maybe that isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of spring, but it should be. This time of year is as good a time as any to get your website priorities aligned with your goals, look at areas in need of improvement, and most importantly do a bit of keyword research to see if your efforts need a change.
When was the last time you looked at your keywords? And I'm talking about the search volume, trend, and competitive level of your keywords, not just your rankings. Devoting a few hours to this spring cleaning adventure is a wise decision, and I've found myself doing so every 3-6 months. A few tips:
WordStream’s very own free keyword tool provides you with a few keyword ideas to help you along. Also great: SEMRush.com, SEOMOZ.org Pro tools, and of course the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. There's a certain science to choosing the right keywords, and looking at a variety of options is important when evaluating, and reevaluating, your keywords.
When was the last time you manually searched for your keywords? Do it … but take a few moments before hitting the "Google Search" button and see what Google Suggest pulls up for keywords. You may find you're missing out on a few other keyword opportunities, and using Google Suggest for keyword research might just help you out.
Utilize Google Analytics
As a website owner you likely look at Google Analytics on a regular basis. But how deep are you delving? Look back 6 months or even 12 months. What content pages are most popular on your site, and what keywords are searchers using to find these pages? Now look at the top 10 keywords, and patterns might just arise between different pages. Are your efforts truly optimized? There might just be keywords you are missing out on, or are focusing on the wrong page. Google Analytics, and the suggested tools above, can help you figure this out.
Once you have figured out which keywords need improving, more focus, or integration into your efforts, look at the actual URLs that you'll be linking these keywords to. Surprisingly, many websites lack simple key components that make a web page truly optimized. A few things to remember:
- Meta Title: Make sure your priority keywords are in the title, closest to the beginning of the title, but don't overdo it. You want the Meta Title to provide the viewer with the correct information about what the page contains without appearing spammy.
- Content: Are your keywords in your content? Again, don't overdo it, but make sure they are somewhere on the page!
- H1-5 Tags: I see this very often, websites not properly utilizing their H1-5 tags. It's so simple and basic, and not to mention I think using H1-5 tags make a page look more organized and easy to read.
- Alt Tags on Images: Yet one more way to integrate your keywords onto your page -- through the use of alt tags on images. Now don't go adding in all your keywords to images that don't make sense, but at least put alt tags on keywords to explain what the picture contains.
To help you get through your on-site evaluation you might want to check out a few tools: SEOMOZ.org Toolbar, SEO for Firefox plugin, and the Web Developer plugin for Firefox. I use these tools on a daily basis, and they are certainly worth a download.
Measure Your Progress
Last, but certainly not least, is measuring your progress. Once you've made your on-site changes be sure to benchmark your current rankings and check back often to see how they're holding up. There are several ranking tools out there, just make sure to use one point of reference and not rely on different ranking checkers each time you check. With personalized search and real-time search, in addition to many other factors, getting consistent rankings from the same website or tool is important to establish consistency.
How often do you reevaluate your keywords, check your on-site factors, and measure your results?
Kaila Strong works for Vertical Measures, an Internet and search engine marketing company based in Phoenix, AZ. She's very active on Twitter (@cliquekaila) and on the Vertical Measures blog.