How to Identify and Optimize Keywords for Your Corporate Blog
By now, it’s common practice for many B2B companies to have a corporate blog as a part of their content marketing strategy. It’s a great way to draw traffic to your site and connect with your audience in a meaningful way, but only as long as you can a) make the primary focus of your content helping and informing them rather than simply pitching your product/service, and b) make your blog posts as easily findable via search as possible. Accomplishing the latter is all about optimizing blog keywords – both choosing the right ones and using them effectively.
While some may argue that sharing content via social media has become just as — if not even more — important than optimizing it for search, the fact is both SEO and social are crucial for enhancing discoverability (case in point: OpenView’s blog traffic is currently split almost evenly between social and search). It should be pointed out, however, that while social can be responsible for giving content an incredibly solid initial boost of traffic, optimizing it with the right keywords is what will ensure it receives a steady stream of views over the long haul.
Choosing Your Blog Keywords Wisely
As Michael Brenner, author of B2B Marketing Insider and Senior Director of Inbound Markeitng with SAP, advises, choosing the right keywords is all about getting inside the minds of your buyers – not just in understanding what they are looking for, but knowing exactly which words and terms they are using. Ex: If you are selling athletic footwear your customers are more likely searching for terms like “men’s sneakers” or “men’s tennis shoes” rather than “athletic footwear”. Note that it’s much more effective for you to optimize for keyword phrases of two or three words rather than one general keyword (such as “shoes,” for example).
Watch this quick video from Google for tips on how to choose the right keywords straight from the search engine’s mouth. It’s primarily referring to keyword research for ads, but the majority of the tips apply to any keyword optimization:
You might be well served to create a blog keywords glossary that groups the keywords you want to compete for into specific categories, using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to gauge the competition and number of searches for each keyword/keyword phrase to determine the best options. SEOmoz also offers a terrific keyword tool that I find to be more helpful than Google’s — providing more in-depth ranking analysis — and much easier to use. The downside: It’s only available to PRO members.
For more on choosing the right keywords for your company, download OpenView’s free eBook, Better Keywords, Better Customers: A Business Guide to Keyword Generation.
You Certainly Have a Way with Keywords
Once you’ve determined which blog keywords and keyword phrases you’re going to utilize, it’s time to start putting them to action. If you’re using WordPress to publish your blog I highly recommend this free WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast, which makes on-page SEO incredibly easy. It automatically keeps track of how many times you’ve used your chosen keyword/keyword phrase in five key areas:
- Article Heading (Title)
- Page Title (or SEO Title)
- Page URL
- Meta Description (appears in the snippet preview)
As Lee Odden notes in his post “Where to Use Keywords in Corporate Blog Posts,” while it’s always important to use your blog keywords as close to the beginning of both of your titles (heading and SEO) as possible, there can and should be some differentiation between the two. Your heading should be focused on grabbing the attention of a real, live human reader – “feel free to use puns, metaphors, or be ironic,” Odden writes. In other words, this is where you have the chance to be creative and compelling.
Your SEO title, meanwhile, should be as short, literal, and to-the-point as possible. After all, search engines really don’t have any appreciation for puns, no matter how clever. The same goes for your page URL – typically, it should match this title rather than your heading.
For example, for my previous blog post, I went with the title “Content Factory Best Practices: Field Notes from a Search for the Best Content Factory Online” for the heading, or on-page title, but for the SEO title and URL I simply used “Content Factory Best Practices”.
It’s also important to use your keyword(s) in the meta description, which preview text that will appear below your title in the search listing.
As for utilizing keywords in the body of your content, while there is no definitive answer to the question of how many times should keywords be used, there is certainly such a thing as going overboard. An optimal keyword density is generally considered to be 1 to 3 percent by many SEO experts, but I personally wouldn’t recommend going over 2 percent. For an average-sized blog post of 400-600 words that means, ideally, a keyword should appear at least four times but no more than twelve.
Equally important as your keyword density – and perhaps even more so – is your keyword placement, at least in regards to two prime locations: the first line/paragraph and subheadings. Your keyword(s) should appear in each whenever possible.
Finally, another key opportunity to use keywords is in anchor text for outbound links. Don’t make the mistake of attaching a link to the words, “click here.” Instead, be descriptive. For example, here is a quick and helpful guide to keyword research from SEOmoz to check out.
Always remember that your corporate blogging needs to be compelling to both readers and search engines. That means striking a balance between readability and SEO, because as Odden puts it, “omit one and you lose the other.”
Do you have any additional questions regarding keyword research and/or optimization? Any additional tips or solutions to share? Please do so in the comments below.
You may also be interested in some of my previous posts on corporate blogging:
- Business Blog Basics: 5 Tips to Take the Stress out of Writing Your Company Blog
- Tread Lightly and Don’t Carry a Red Pen: Tips for Editing a Corporate Blog
- Keys to Corporate Blog Promotion and Measuring Performance
And you can also follow me on Twitter @jonathanscrowe.