Let's cut straight to the good stuff, shall we?? How do I rank for this keyword is one of the most common questions I get asked.
The kind that gets you grinning at four o'clock in the afternoon as another enquiry lands in your inbox.
That gets you high-fiving your(self? Cat?) as you wrap up another order.
Keyword ranking may not sound all that sexy, but it can do A-grade things for your creative business. So exactly what do you need to do to get in on the action, and which of the so-called tips and tricks are nothing more than myth?
- It's time to be choosey
Whenever someone asks me (i.e. every day) 'how do I show up in search engines for this keyword?', then I ask them in return, how did you choose that word? It's so often picked at random, guided by the not-so-specific method of 'Ooh I like that yes', rather than what their ideal clients are actually searching for. It can be as simple as the choice between “floral designer” vs “florist” or “illustration” vs “painting” that really can make all the difference.
But, if you aren't sure, what else can you do? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to figure it out because yes, there are tools to help figure out the popularity of any particular phrase but if you don't do this ground work first you're going to be going round in circles.
Get a pen and notepad out and write down...
- Where in the world are you based? Be specific
- Where in the world is your audience based? Be specific
- What do you offer
- Are there different ways to sum up what you do?
- Are you clear on how you differ from your competitors (this can be the difference between wedding bouquet illustrator and wedding day illustrator, both of which are great businesses but are quite different in terms of actual service where one shows up to the big day and the other does not)
- Are you clear on how you add value to your audience's lives?
- How well do you understand what they're looking for?
If you design clothes or take photos it's not just - my clients need clothes or they need new photos, it's the kind of clothes, it's the kind of photos they need, and what they will use them for.
- One word: phrase
When is a keyword not a keyword? When it's a phrase! Don't get caught out by thinking your keyword is 'photographer' when actually it's probably more like 'Birmingham wedding photographer'. Because here's the secret: more often than not, that's what people are typing into Google. Think about the last searches you made, then apply the same logic to the queries your ideal client could use to find you.
Often, creative business owners bundle up hashtag and keyword choice in one fell swoop. Your time is valuable, so streamlining makes sense, but don't try and skip this key step just to save time (instead psst...find the places you totally CAN save time in your business right here). Keywords are what get you found on Google, hashtags group your social media posts. They're both ways to bring new eyes to your brand, but they work in different ways so don't assume one works for the other.
- On target
If I asked you to describe your ideal client, what would you say? (Apart from rolling your eyes, because isn't it enough that you've got one, do you really have to deep dive more?!?) Could you tell me their age, their likes, dislikes and favourite places to splurge? Could you tell me their pain points and the things that spur them on to get out of bed in the morning?
You may be feeling a bit smug right now as you've got this information down, but even if you haven't, don't let the research stop there. Include it in your keyword ranking planning too. You can find out how many people search each month for phrases linked to your business (start with Google Keyword Planner, but on my SEO course Let's Get You Found I teach you much more specific ways to do this). Check out your competition, too - what are they using? You always need to know what you're up against before you can take top spot, otherwise you're just fighting against yourself.
- Play the game
Competing for number one takes courage, confidence and clarity (I talk about it in my free trainings, which you probably wanna hear more about, right?). If you've got your keywords right, you'll face plenty of competition in your bid to top the charts, so you need to play the game to win! Using the exact same keyword phrases on multiple blogs and pages means you'll be in direct competition with yourself - and only one page can be number one. So instead use similar phrases that mean the same thing on different blog posts you write. Get clear on where keyword phrases work best on your website. This very idea is debated widely amongst SEO experts and is different for every business, so take the time to work out what is best for you.
- One size does not fit all
It used to be the case that you could create a page, add the search phrase, link the page on your menu or footer, name it with your keyword phrase and that would be enough to ace your keyword ranking. But as with most things in life, times change.
Google is getting cleverer than ever, tracking not just what people search but also their intent behind it. Make sure you tailor your keyword phrases specifically to each page to ensure they display in search for what potential customers will actually find.
- Wrong place, right time
One of the most common mistakes I find on client websites is that they've used one keyword phrase in a lot of places, or they've not used enough at all. The trick to scoring great SEO results and watching that organic traffic roll in is to put the right keywords in the right places, every time.
- Pare it back
When you've done your research for keyword ranking, it can be oh-so tempting to pour all that time and energy into the next post you write. Don't! Because trust me, we've all been there, done that and ended up with a post you can't make head nor tail of. Packing in every possible variation of your keyword phrase won't a readable page make, so choose one for this time, and save the others to enhance your strategy another day.
Once you've nailed your audience targeting, it's time to hone in on your strategy too. Strategy doesn't have to be a scary word, and in fact I love helping people sort theirs out. Scaling back your keywords to cover a chosen area or niche won't limit your potential. Far from it, in fact, because by doing this you'll appeal to the people who matter most.
OK, so you've done some thinking, come and tell me on Facebook which tip helped you the most....
P.S. If you're in the mythbusting mood, you might also wanna check out my post on whether SEO is dead.....