As a business owner, having a great website can help you engage with your online customers and increase sales in-store. But, what if your customers can't find your website when they look for you on Google or other search engines?
That's where keywords come in handy. Utilizing keywords on your business's website, social media pages or videos can mean the difference between not being found at all and appearing in the right searches, reaching those customers who need your services or products.
In fact, 70 percent of all search traffic comes from long-tail keywords (we'll get into this later), meaning that your business is already falling behind in searches if you don't use keywords.
So, how can you use keywords to boost your business's search ranking? Here are four ways:
1. Research the most popular keywords for your industry.
When it comes to keywords, you want to use the ones that best describe your business. For example, if you own a coffee shop in Columbus, Ohio, you can use your store's name plus "coffee shop," "Columbus" and "Ohio" as your primary keywords.
However, if you want to rank higher than your competitors and increase your search ranking, you need to use the keywords that everyone is searching for, so make sure to do keyword research or even just search Google for your industry ("mechanic," "salon" etc.) to see the related searches section.
On the contrary, you can't just place the keyword "best coffee shop" on your website multiple times and expect top-tier results. This is called "keyword stuffing" and if Google catches on to you doing this, they can penalize your business which will reduce your search ranking.
That's why you need to also research other keywords that are relevant to your business and its industry. If you own an auto repair business, you could list your services such as "oil change," "tire rotation" and "brakes" to boost your SEO.
2. Use location-specific keywords to show up in local searches.
As we mentioned, if you own a coffee shop in Columbus, OH, you'll want to include "Columbus" and "Ohio" as part of your primary research to show up when customers search for coffee in Columbus.
However, when your customers search for "coffee shops in Columbus Ohio," the results can vary from downtown to the suburbs of Columbus, and this won't help you if your store is in a particular neighborhood of Columbus.
That's why you also need to include location-specific keywords to set yourself apart. For example, if you're in Columbus' Arena District of downtown, you'll need to include "Arena District" in your keywords to show up exactly where your customers are.
3. Revamp old content with keywords.
When you're moving forward with your digital marketing strategy, you'll want to update your website and social media profiles with keywords, as well as include any relevant keywords in the future content that you publish such as:
- YouTube video descriptions
- Blog post or video titles
- Blog post content
But, digital marketing is always changing, so some of your older content should be revamped with new material, including keywords, to increase your search ranking. If you revamp your older blog posts, your organic traffic can increase by as much as 111%.
4. Use keywords to optimize for voice search.
Smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo have gotten very popular with consumers lately; forty percent of adults use smart speakers every day and it's expected that voice searches will make up 50 percent of all searches by 2020.
With these statistics in mind, you'll want to start optimizing your business for voice search now to prepare for the future.
One of the ways you can do so is by adding long-tail keywords to your website. Unlike normal keywords, long-tail keywords are more natural and specific. Here's the difference:
Keywords: "pizza delivery" "delivery hours"
Long-tail keywords: "brick oven pizza Columbus Ohio"
When customers look for businesses like yours using voice search, they're going to use natural language rather than just stating keywords. So, it's important that you place long-tail keywords throughout your website to show up in your customers' local searches.
Just make sure that any long-tail keywords placed on your website look natural, such as a question in your FAQ section. Otherwise, your website content will look spammy, and that is the quickest way to make a potential customer leave your website and visit the competition.
The digital world is competitive and if you don't have an online presence that's strong enough to show up in your customers' searches, people will choose your competitors over you, even if you have a great business and website.
The bottom line is that you can't think of keywords as an option for your local search marketing strategy; keywords are mandatory and if you haven't started using them as a part of your strategy, now is the time.