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Just as your eCommerce business evolves, so, too, should the strategies that support it. When it comes to your SEO efforts, it’s important to take the time to audit your performance and update your keyword strategy in order to stay competitive.
Here’s an introduction to SEO tactics and tips for how to update your SEO keyword strategy.
Intro to SEO Strategy
SEO is the process of taking steps to maximize the number of high-quality visitors to your site. SEO efforts affect organic search rankings on a site, so investing in these efforts upfront can have a strong positive impact in the long-term. The ultimate goal in SEO is to get your site to “rank” on search engine results pages for your desired keywords or phrases so that you get as much traffic as possible from people clicking on your result.
There are three distinct kinds of SEO.
On-page SEO: On-page (or on-site) SEO pertains to the content that appears on your site.
Off-page SEO: Off-page (or off-site) SEO involves building and fostering relationships between your site and other, relevant sites in order to demonstrate its level of trustworthiness.
Technical SEO: Technical SEO involves the back-end elements of your site functionality, making sure that everything works properly and can be easily found by the search engines.
Your keyword strategy falls into the on-page SEO category, along with the copy you write, the images you choose and any other content elements that make up your site. Your keyword strategy helps search engines to better identify when your site (or a certain page on your site) is relevant to what someone is looking for. It’s essentially your game plan for how you want to target your desired keywords or phrases.
When to Refresh Your SEO Keyword Strategy
Industries are ever-changing, just as customers/markets are always evolving. If it’s been several years since you’ve given your keyword strategy a look, then it’s most certainly time to at least explore whether a refresh is needed. While it’s best to be proactive and schedule time to review and potentially refresh your SEO keyword strategy regularly, here are some key events to look out for and react to.
1. There’s been an algorithm update.
Google updates its algorithm so often that it’s often undetectable to consumers and SEO strategists alike. These updates happen regularly and are generally quite minimal. However, every so often Google will release a larger, more comprehensive core update that could potentially affect your rankings. If this happens, it could be helpful to check how your keywords are performing and how your site is ranking for them, noting any drops.
2. Your rankings have dropped.
As time passes, industries shift, language changes–and people can start to use search engines differently. If you find that your rankings have been dropping and you haven’t spent much time on your on-site SEO lately, it’s possible your keyword strategy needs a refresh.
If your customers aren’t using the same keywords or phrases as they used to, or are asking about your product or service differently than they used to, it’s possible your site isn’t coming across as relevant anymore.
3. A competitor is picking up steam.
Has a new competitor just appeared seemingly out of nowhere? Are they suddenly ranking higher than you for your keywords? Now’s the time to adapt your SEO keyword strategy in order to retain your market share, and your domain authority.
4. You have new product/service offerings.
Each time you introduce a new product or feature to the market, you’ll likely make changes to your website that reflect the news. Especially if you’ve entered a new category, it’s important to evaluate your current strategy to see how you can work this new offering into your unique story.
Steps for Updating Your SEO Keyword Strategy
1. Evaluate your past performance.
Refer to your list of keywords and phrases and then evaluate historical metrics and search volume trends. If the keywords you’ve been using aren’t as popular as they used to be, look for reasons why. Collect as much information as you can to gain an understanding of what’s still working and what needs a refresh.
2. Perform industry research and explore the competition.
Look closely at who’s ranking for the keywords and phrases that you want to be ranked for. What’s their content strategy? How are they building out their pages? Pay attention to the ways they’re presenting the information in order to determine whether there are elements that could be helpful to your own strategies.
As industries shift and technology advances, so do the ways in which people communicate. Terminology changes over time as a response to everything from pop culture to politics, and the words and phrases that were popular years ago might no longer have the same clout as they used to. It’s helpful to look to industry context in order to better understand how your customers are interacting with one another, and about their topics of interest.
New mediums for search can also affect your SEO keyword strategy. With the introduction of virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, voice queries are on the rise. The search process is different for those who use voice over traditional search engines. Think about how you’d ask a question to a voice assistant versus what you might type into Google. It’s likely a lot longer of a phrase.
3. Execute another round of keyword research.
Just like your PPC strategy, keyword research in support of your SEO strategy isn’t something that you can just set and forget. Since the industry and your audience are always changing, it’s important to stay abreast of shifts and new trends.
In addition to brainstorming your own keywords based on your target audience’s needs and intents, consider referencing third party data sources like:
Tools like Keywords Everywhere or the Google Keyword Planner can help you look into which keywords might now be more relevant to your offerings. These are fantastic resources, but it’s important to take the information you uncover with a grain of salt, as they’re tools designed for paid advertising and not organic SEO efforts. They’re great to learn from, but search volume shouldn’t be viewed as definitive.
4. Consider employing the “keyword clustering” strategy.
Referred to within the industry as an extremely effective content strategy for SEO, keyword clustering is a strategy that’s gaining popularity. Moz describes in great detail how to hone your keyword clustering skills, but the basic steps are below.
You start the keyword clustering process by performing keyword research using third-party tools, your own brainstorming and competitor insights.
You then analyze the terms to find commonalities among them. This can be done manually or by using a frequency counter. This analysis can help you to uncover words and phrases that are variations of an important word or phrase to your business.
Once you reveal how these words and phrases relate to one another, you can create content that targets dozens of keywords at once.
5. Confirm your goals and track your results over time.
Before you dive headfirst into execution, first ensure you’ve clearly identified your goals and how you’ll measure them. Defining your strategy and analyzing your results can be challenging, especially if you’re not a team of search engine optimization experts.
However, there are a few quick steps you can reference to make sure you’re on track.
Set your goals (be more specific than “Update my keyword strategy!”).
Use these goals to inform your specific SEO keyword strategy/ies.
Define the important KPIs that you’ll use to measure success.
Analyze, adapt and repeat.
Defining SEO Keyword Strategy Success
As with any element of your business, it’s important that your keyword strategy is tailored to your own unique goals and expectations. It’s quite rare that your definition of success will match another’s–not even your competitor’s!
If you’ve made a valiant effort, but are still not seeing the results you want, it may be time to enlist search engine optimization experts, like the team at Visiture, to help.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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