Why You Should Stop Keyword Stuffing in SEO Now

Keyword stuffing is like Michael Myers in “Halloween” — it refuses to die. It’s also very dangerous for your business, because it will kill your search engine rankings.

Keyword stuffing is one of those things left over from the earliest days of digital marketing that refuses to go away.

You have already seen in it in action if you have come across blogs full of phrases like “best seafood near me” or “women dress store Atlanta.”

It is awkward, unnatural, and still one of the go-to techniques for many content creators. Why?

Why Keyword Stuffing Became So Popular

As digital marketing and search engines evolved, it became clear that people tended to use specific phrases when doing an Internet search. Marketers figured out that they could get high rankings for their clients by filling content with these phrases. That led to lots of ads and other content filled with popular search phrases.

As the practice spread, so did the number of keywords crammed into the content. It got to the point where popular keyword phrases were making their way into landing pages and blogs, even if they didn’t fulfill the user’s intent. That meant lots of annoyed users who didn’t end up finding “red sandals Dallas” when they clicked on an ad or link.

How Keyword Stuffing Hurts You Today

Connecting audiences to their desired result is the primary goal of search engines. Having tons of users annoyed by low-quality results does not allow them to do that. Search engines now reward content written for actual human consumption, not to game their algorithms in pursuit of higher search rankings. Spammy content that does not satisfy user intent now gets driven down in SERPs.

One of the things search engines judge when determining whether the content is useful is the keyword density throughout a piece of content. You may be using keywords that tie into your client’s product, but the sheer volume used could have it penalized.

That also applies to your hidden web content. Some content creators attempt to circumvent search engine penalties by stuffing multiple keywords into the alt tags in images or the meta tags in their HTML. Search engines are aware of these tactics, and will penalize your pages in response.

Better SEO Techniques for Your Keywords

Keywords still help improve page rankings, when used correctly. Working the following techniques into your content will earn better rankings by Google and other search engines.

User-Friendly Phrasing

One thing you can let go of is the idea that you must use common search phrases in a specific order.

Let’s go back to our “red shoes Dallas” example from before. You could easily rewrite the phrase to read, “We have many red high-heeled shoes in stock at our Dallas location.” and get the desired result.

Google, for example, understands how to match that directly to the keyword phrase in question and pull back the proper result. The content itself is richer and much more comfortable for a visitor to consume. Using keywords this way also helps when users issue voice searches through IoT or mobile devices.

Lower Keyword Density

Make sure the body of your blogs and articles contain at least 300 words. The longer and more useful you make them, the easier it will be to naturally work in keyword phrases, while maintaining a keyword density of around 2 percent.

You should also use secondary keywords and other long-tailed keywords that tie back to your content. Search engines will continue to give you better rankings, if you maintain a proper balance.

Summing It All Up

Keyword stuffing is an outdated methodology that unfortunately still gets widely used. Search engines penalize pages that use keyword stuffing techniques.

Instead of unnaturally adding keywords to your pages, use natural phrasing and long-tailed variations in rich content to help content rank better in SERPs.  Ultimately, letting go of outdated keyword stuffing benefits content creators, search engines and, most importantly, your prospective customers.

Want more tips to improve your SEO?  Click here to grab a copy of our “Ultimate SEO Checklist.”

 

 

When, Why and How to Target Your Competitors’ Keywords

In the busy world we live in, most consumers will purchase from the first business they come across that sells the services and products they want. This means that you want your consumers to see your business first when they are searching online. There’s a problem, though: You’re likely not the only business selling your products and services.

In the busy world we live in, most consumers will purchase from the first business they come across that sells the services and products they want. This means that you want your consumers to see your business first when they are searching online. There’s a problem, though.

You’re likely not the only business selling your products and services. You have competitors, and they may be ranked higher on Google’s search engine results pages for keywords your consumers use. This means that those consumers see them first, which could also mean lost business.

One of the best ways to solve that problem is through competitor research and targeting keywords they rank well for on Google. If you’re able to rank higher for those keywords, your business ends up being seen first, which boosts your chances of getting those customers.

How to Target Competitors’ Keywords

The first step in targeting your competitors’ keywords is to identify your competitors. The process is as simple as using Google to search for your services and products to see what businesses come up in the search results.

With a list of competitors in hand, you can start to research the keywords they’ve used to make themselves visible to consumers. Many competitor research tools are available to help you do this, such as SpyFu, Ahrefs, and SEMRush. All of these tools can show you what keywords your competitors rank for and the serach volumes of those keywords.

With that keyword list, the real fun can begin — figuring out which keywords you’ll target. The following are the factors you should consider when choosing which competitor keywords to use:

Conversion

Assess the conversion likelihood of each keyword. Some keywords are used by people simply for information. While those people may end up making a purchase, the chances are lower than targeting keywords that have a high likelihood of conversion.

For example, a keyword phrase such as, “iphone vs. samsung note” is likely used by people researching to make a decision between the two phones. The keyword phrase “used Samsung note for sale” is likely used by someone who is ready to buy one.

Audience

Think about the audience your competitors’ keywords are targeting. This has more to do with businesses that sell similar products and services.

If you’re looking for keywords to sell high-end furniture then steer clear of keywords that include “discount” and “cheap” because people searching those phrases are not likely your target audience.

Avoid Competitor’s Brands

You will have an extremely difficult time ranking for another brand. For example, if you’re an orthodontist offering Invisalign. It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever outrank the brand’s website. You may have a better chance ranking for keywords having to do with the brand, such as “benefits of clear braces” or “braces for teenagers.”

Choose the Easiest Ones First

Not only does choosing the easiest ones to rank first boost your confidence, but it helps you build trust with Google. As you rank for certain keywords, you can rank for similar (not so easy to rank for) keywords easier.

Consider Current Keywords

Select keywords that fit into your site structure and are similar to your current keywords. You’re already ranking for certain keywords on your site, and it’s much easier to rank for similar keywords. For example, if your site ranks for “big blankets,” you’ll be more likely to also rank for “big wool blankets.” as opposed to “cotton throws.”

Getting Started with Competitors’ Keywords

Don’t let your competitors reach your consumers first. Identify those competitors, research the keywords they are using, and then analyze those keywords based on conversions, audience, branding, ease of ranking, and current keyword rankings. With this work, you can start to outrank your competitors to drive more traffic and sales.

Want more help with your SEO?  Click here to grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.

5 Ways to Carve Out a Top Spot in Google Search Results

Everyone wants their website to be on the first page of Google’s search results pages (SERPs). Since 95% of all clicks are made on the first page, it makes sense. Knowing this doesn’t really help you, though. What you really need to know is how to get your site ranked on the first page of Google’s search results for as many keywords as possible that your customers use.

Search
“Search Key,” Creative Commons license. | Credit: Flickr by GotCredit

Everyone wants their website to be on the first page of Google’s search results pages (SERPs). Since 95% of all clicks are made on the first page, it makes sense. Knowing this doesn’t really help you, though. What you really need to know is how to get your site ranked on the first page of Google’s search results for as many keywords as possible that your customers use.
The following are some of the ways to carve out a top spot in Google search results.

Keyword Research

It all starts with keyword research using Google’s keyword planner tool.

This keyword planner tells users how many people search for a particular keyword phrase (the phrase Google users put into the search bar), and also gives you additional relevant keywords that you may not have thought of on your own.  Think of it like a thesaurus. Type in some keywords you think your customers are searching for and Google’s keyword planner tool will give you additional relevant phrases.

With this information, you can optimize your site with keywords your consumers are using, and have a better chance of making the first page for them.

Optimize Your Site for Search Engines and Users

Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t just about the “search engine.” It’s about the users of that search engine.

With the keyword research out of the way, you are ready to optimize your site. These keywords should be the basis for your site’s content. They tell you what people want to find on websites, so you need to give it to them.
For instance, if you have a keyword like, “benefits of essential oils” because you sell essential oils, you want to have a page that explains the benefits of them. You need to use “benefits of essential oils” in the title tag, meta description, headers, and of course in the text of the page.

You also want to add the page on your site where it is easily found by your site visitors. You may have a link on your website’s navigation that says, “Resource Center” or “Help Center.” You can then place your page there.

Review your keywords and group the similar phrases together.  Then for each group, you should create a page that provides detailed information and is easy to understand.

Increase Your Site’s Visibility

Google uses many factors when trying to decide which sites warrant ranking on the first page. One of these factors is how popular the site is according to other sources.

How does Google measure your website’s popularity?  The biggest factor is the quantity and quality of links from other websites.  If a lot of other relevant and credible websites link to your website, then Google will boost your website’s rankings. Think of it like credibility by association.

How do you make this happen?

Push your website as much as possible. This means reach out to website owners to ask if they would be willing to link to your site. It’s best to contact ones that have content that is similar, but not offering the same services and products. This way there’s no competition, and the website owner is more likely to agree.

Social media is another outlet to capture the attention of your consumers. Post on social media often, and ask people to visit and share posts that have your site’s URL. The more people you can send to your site that will be interested in the information, the more likely you’ll attract more links and, in turn, boost rankings.

Ensure Functionality

Google doesn’t want to send its users to sites that don’t provide a good user experience. The best way to know if your site delivers the functionality Google and its users want is to make sure your site meets all of the following criterion.

  • Every page loads quickly.
  • The site’s architecture makes sense, and people can usually find the information they need within 2 clicks.
  • It’s secure, especially if people can buy your services or products on it.
  • All pages are active, so there are no 404s.
  • It’s mobile friendly.

Google recently announced page speed was a big factor in rankability along with mobile friendliness. With so many people using their mobile devices to search now, they want to ensure that their users are shown the best functioning websites.

Update Your Website Regularly

Think about this from Google’s perspective.  Does it make sense for Google to show outdated information on the first page of their search results?

PPC Shockers and Secrets

Pay per click (PPC), particularly Google AdWords, is a marketing channel that can produce profitable results for your business, whether your goal is lead generation or sales. I have been managing PPC for businesses, as an in-house marketing leader as well as marketing consultant, for over a decade now. Though the years, I have noticed many secrets to success that I wanted to share—especially with business owners and marketers that haven’t tried PPC yet.

Pay per click (PPC), particularly Google AdWords, is a marketing channel that can produce profitable results for your business, whether your goal is lead generation or sales.

I have been managing PPC for businesses, as an in-house marketing leader as well as marketing consultant, for over a decade now.

Though the years, I have noticed many secrets to success that I wanted to share—especially with business owners and marketers that haven’t tried PPC yet.

First, I’d like to clear the air about a big shocker … or actually a fallacy … that you need a big budget to run an effective PPC campaign.

You don’t. If you happen to have a large budget, your ads will be shown more and you can spread out your ad groups and test different types. With a smaller budget, you do need to be more judicious with your efforts. But if you market smarter, not broader, your campaigns can still produce positive results.

I have run PPC campaigns with total monthly budgets of $1,000. I have run campaigns with total daily maximum budgets ranging from $25 to $50. These campaigns brought in both sales and leads, despite their limited spending. But they do require active management, strategic thinking, deep PPC knowledge and refinement/optimization.

The PPC Tri-Pod
What is going to determine the cost and return of your campaign are three simple things I call the “PPC Tri-pod”, as it supports your entire PPC efforts:

  1. Keywords
  2. Creative (or banner ad, if it’s running on the display network)
  3. Redirect URL

So in order for you to get the most bang for your buck with PPC, you should be aware of a few things regarding the PPC Tri-pod:

Keywords. The more popular the keyword, the more cost per click (CPC) it’s going to have. So it’s very important to do your keyword research before you start selecting your keywords as you’re setting up your campaign.

I like to use Keywordspy.com. The “lite” version is free, but you can also upgrade to the full version and see more results and have more capabilities for a monthly fee. Google used to have its Keyword External Tool, which has since morphed into Google AdWords Keyword Planner. You need a Gmail account to access this free tool.

Either of these tools will allow you to enter keywords or keyword phrases and then view popularity (actual search results), as well as what the average CPCs are. This is important for your keyword selection and bidding. You can also type in your “core” or focus keywords and get additional ad group/keyword ideas. To help refine your search terms, you can also choose broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, exact match and negative match.

If you pick a word that is too vague or too under-searched, your ad will not see much (or any) action. Impressions will either not be served, or if they are served (in the case of a vague word), it may cost you a high CPC. In addition, a vague keyword may not be relevant enough to get you a good conversion rate. Because you pay by the click, your goal is to monetize that click by getting an instant conversion. And conversions, my friends, will be the role of the landing page. I’ll talk about that more in a moment.

Creative. This is your text ad (or banner ad, if you’re running in AdWords’ display network). For Google to rank your ad favorably, and more importantly, for you to get the best conversion results possible—there needs to be a relevancy and synergy between your keyword, text ad and landing page. Google will let you know if you’re not passing muster by your ad’s page position and quality score. Once you’ve carefully researched and selected your ad group keywords, you’ll want to make sure those keywords are consistent across the board with your ad and landing page. Your text ad has four visible lines with limited character count:

  1. Headline (25 Characters)
  2. Description Line 1 (35 Characters)
  3. Description Line 2 (35 Characters)
  4. Display URL (35 Characters)

Your keyword must appear in your text ad, as well as follow through and appear in the content of your landing page.

This will give you a good quality rank with Google, but also help qualify the prospect and carry the relevancy of the ad through to the landing page. Why is this important? It helps maintain consistency of the message and also set expectations with the end user. You don’t want to present one ad, and then have a completely different landing page come up.

Not only is that a “bait and switch,” but it’s costly. Because you’re paying for clicks, a great ad that is compelling and keyword rich, but not cohesive to your landing page, will not convert as well as one that is. And your campaign will actually lose conversions.

Redirect URL. This is your landing page. Different goals and different industries will have different formats. A lead generation campaign, which is just looking to collect email addresses to build an opt-in email list, will be a “squeeze page.” This is simply a landing page with a form asking for first name and email address in return for giving something away for free—albeit a bonus report, free newsletter subscription or similar. It got its name because it’s “squeezing” an email address from the prospect. Some retail campaigns will direct prospects directly to e-commerce sites or catalog pages (as opposed to a sales page). Direct response online marketers will drive their traffic to a targeted promotional landing page where it’s not typically a Web page where there’s other navigation or distractions that will take the prospect away from the main goal. It’s more streamlined and focused. The copy is not technical, it’s compelling and emotional, like promotional copy you would see in a sales letter. The anatomy of your redirect URL will vary on your goal and offer. It will take optimization and testing to see what’s working and what’s not. And that’s par for the course. If you’re testing, I suggest elements that scream and not whisper, such as long copy vs. short copy, or headlines and leads that are different themes. However, no matter what your goal, whether it’s going for the sale or the email address, you still need keyword consistency between all creative elements.

Tips And Tricks For Maximum ROI
Whether you have a big or small budget, there are a few things I’ve learned during the years that help the overall performance of a PPC campaign. Some of these are anecdotal, so if you’ve seen otherwise, I suggest testing to see if it makes a difference to your particular industry.

Ad and Landing Page. In general, I have noticed that shorter, to the point, landing pages produce better results. And the rationale is quite obvious. People searching the Web are looking for quick solutions to a problem. This means your creatives have to not only be keyword rich, but compelling and eye-caching. You have seconds to grab a Web surfer’s attention and get them to click. In the same sense, the landing page has to be equally relevant and persuasive, and typically shorter in copy. Keep in mind Google has many rules surrounding ad copy development. So write your text ads in accordance to its advertising policy.

Price Point. Again, in my personal experience, most Web surfers have a price threshold. And that’s items under about $79. When running a PPC campaign, think about price points that are more tolerable to “cold” prospects; that is, people who haven’t built a relationship with you or know anything about you. They have no brand loyalty. They don’t know you from Adam. So getting a sale at a lower price point is an easier sell than a product you have that costs hundreds of dollars. Luxury items or items with strong recognition and brand loyalty are the exception to that rule. As a direct response marketer, I urge you to price test and see for yourself.

Campaign Set-up. There are a few tactics I notice that help with ad exposure, clicks and saving money. When you’re setting up your campaign you can day-part, frequency cap and run ad extensions. Day parting allows you to select the hours of the day you’d like your campaign to run; ad extensions allow you to add components to your text ad to help visibility and call to action—such as location, site links, reviews and more; And frequency capping lets you set a threshold on how many times you’d like a given person to see your ad (based on impressions).

PPC Networks. It’s smart not to put all your eggs in one basket. In addition to Google AdWords, try running campaigns on other PPC networks, such as Bing/Yahoo, Adroll (retargeting through Facebook), Advertising.com/AdSonar.com, SiteScout.com (formerly Adbrite.com), and Kanoodle.com. Then see where you get the best cost per click, cost per conversion and overall results.

I’ve only touched the surface here. There are more tactics and features that can help a PPC campaign’s performance. So get yourself familiar with it, read up on the best practices, and don’t be afraid to put your toe in the water. As with any marketing tactic, some channels will work for your business, and some won’t. But you won’t know unless you test. Just remember the foundation of success hinges on the PPC Tri-Pod. The possibilities are endless.