In our Back to Basics series, we've talked about blogging, content marketing, updating social media, managing your public image, and even how to manage your time by using tools to help speed up your posting and sharing. But this isn't all you need to be doing to make sure that people are finding your business!
Another important part of keeping your campaigns running as smoothly as possible is to keep up to date on which keywords are helping your small business rank. A great way to do this is to use the Google Keyword Planner or KeywordTool.io, both of which are free to use and easy to learn.
Finding Target Keywords
So how do you even know where to start? A good place to begin your research is with your competitors. Now, we're not advocating stealing their keywords in an attempt to out-rank them (some people do this, but it's not really a great way of going about things), but it's a good idea to see why your competitors are ranking so high. Do they have unique keywords? Are they the only providers of that service in your area? Do they have a website that has been up for many years? All of these things can determine how well a site is ranking, and often, with a bit of research, you can find ways to use this information to your advantage.
To find their keywords, simply enter their URL in the box and see what Google pulls up. You may be surprised at some of the terms people are using to find the competitor's site.
Alternatively, you might want to try entering your own URL and seeing what Google suggests. If you already have content on your site, the keyword planner will list related terms and give you an estimate of their search volume. You can pick a few of these keywords and think of variations for them.
Finally, using keywordtool.io, you can enter a subject—dentist, for example—and it will come up with a number of suggestions based on that keyword. You can plug some of these into Google's Keyword Planner to see how the terms fare in searches.
Checking a Keyword's Effectiveness
So after you've chosen your keywords and used them in blogs, meta tags, and images, how do you know if they're working for your site? Well, a good way to check is to sign up for a free Google analytics account. You can get a code to copy and paste in your site's header section and from there, Google will track information about the visitors that come to your site. (Important: If you know nothing about this, it's best to contact your webmaster and ask him or her to insert the tracking code for you—you don't want to mess up your website!) You can discover how they accessed your page—by organic search, social media links, or links from other pages, for example—and you can see which terms they're using to find you. These terms are going to be the ones you want to focus on. If you see that some aren't getting much traction, try a different variation by returning to the keyword planner and playing around with your options.
You can also try using a search engine to see if you can pull up your page with any terms. This isn't necessarily the most effective way of determining if your keywords are working, though—sometimes it takes a while for the search engines to index everything and determine that your site is relevant. Plus, Google Analytics will show you where your “impressions” are, and these are equally as important to consider. Impressions are terms that the search engines associate with your site. They may not pull up your site until page 8 or 9, but they are there. Sometimes, given a bit more time and effort through blogging and social media sharing, you can move up the ranks for these "impressions" as well.
Maintaining Your Ranking
Now, before we begin, let us just say that there's no sure-fire way to ensure you stay at the top of a search engine's result page. That's because the algorithms change frequently—most often in an attempt to keep spammers from finding loopholes to abuse. Unfortunately, that means that it will affect you, too, even if you're doing nothing wrong.
But there's good news!
A good way to make sure that you stay in the good graces of the search engines is to update your site frequently. Blogging at least once or twice a week is a good goal. Talk about your keywords and subjects relating to them. Make sure that all your fresh content is high quality, relevant, and entertaining for your visitors to read. By doing all of this, you'll have the best chance of maintaining your ranking over time.
If you enjoyed this article on how to choose keywords for a small business, be sure to subscribe for more updates delivered to your inbox! There are plenty of other articles meant to help small business owners make smart SEO and social media decisions. Or, if you have any other tips, let us know in the comments below!