seo keyword research

How to Research & Prepare Your SEO Keywords for the New Year

According to Search Engine Watch, a leader providing search engine industry analysis, SEO marketing “finally matured in 2013.”

In a single year, over 500 algorithm changes took place, changing the face of search engine optimization forever. In 2014, you’ll need to adapt to change if you expect to hold onto your SERP (search engine results page). In preparation for the New Year, we’ve investigated multiple resources and sorted out the pertinent research that will prepare you for the new word of SEO.

SEO Copywriting Is More Important than Ever

Newbie webmasters and business owners sometimes falsely believe that SEO copywriting is neither useful nor necessary. Such ideas could not be farther from the truth. In fact, we tackled this topic head on in one of our blogs on SEO copywriting. If you doubt for even a nanosecond that optimization for search engine placement is dying, you had better catch up by reading our post!

In 2014, SEO will become more vital than ever. However, it absolutely must be handled correctly, otherwise it will be for naught. And the work you’ve already put into optimization now needs an overhaul, otherwise it’ll be hopelessly outdated and nonfunctional. You want website traffic? You want conversion and sales? You better listen up…

Keywords Matter but They’re Not Almighty

Over the years, opinions and facts about keywords have rapidly changed. At one time, content was bursting at the seams with keyword after keyword, repetitively stuffed in to gain high search engine rankings. Google put the kibosh on this outdated (and frankly, irritating) method of optimization for ranking in favor of quality content. People aren’t robots; they’ve never “crawled” over content and “indexed” it like early model search engine robots. Instead, audiences the globe over have cried out for the chance to read quality content, not sift through incoherent piles of keywords and phrases culminating in an “Order Now” button.

As we wrap up 2013, one of the biggest and most buzzed about changes to SEO keywords is the loss of the Google Keyword tool. Moving forward, what does this mean for you?

A Moment of Silence, Please

Putting the Google Keyword tool to rest is an eventuality almost all of us have been expecting. For those of us neck deep in SEO research, we understand the transforming fact: users want quality content and a great experience above everything else, and Google has heard their voice. Cut the fluff and educate! That’s what consumers want.

Back in 2011, Google started dropping hints to SEO marketers that their models and algorithms were about to change. The Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird updates pushed an attention shift from the almighty repetitive keyword insertion to content quality and relevancy.

As we step into the new world of 2014, it would be prudent to take a hard look at your SEO campaigns. It’s time to ensure they’re keeping up with the changes. Otherwise, you’ll be pushing campaigns that won’t push business, and that the last thing you want to do. It would mean a complete waste of planning and funds.

SEO Content in 2014

For those of us on the warpath, determined to give our audience of potential customers exactly what they crave, many of the same standards we’ve adopted in the past year are still relevant. For example, we have written on our blog about never sacrificing content quality for rankings. This philosophy is still one of the essential SEO content writing tips and the best policy going into the New Year. In fact, you might say it’s the only policy. Climbing the search engine rankings is about to focus on longer quality content, relevant material and the use of keywords with variations.

As the New Year is ushered in, every business owner and marketing guru will meet the change of dealing with new obstacles. Let’s take a look at 3 of the most monstrous obstacles:

#1: Traditional SEO Methods Won’t Cut It

Remember the days when inserting keywords and variations of those keywords equated to higher SERP rankings? Don’t live in those days because they’re going, going, gone. Mobile searching has taken root, and the almighty Google has made it a point to determine where users are searching from. As a result, SERPs are not static.

Google is also tossing customer opinion into the mix. What customers say about you is going hold more weight than other SEO elements on your page. What does this mean for you?

  • It’s time to see beyond an SEO strategy. You’re going to need a local, national, and international strategy so that searchers from any location have a chance to see you.
  • Local search terms are about to be vital for your local SEO success.
  • Customer testimonials will be more important than ever.

#2: Static is Out

Neither Google nor your market is static. Just because you hold a high search engine ranking today, doesn’t mean you’ll still hold it tomorrow. You have to play defense to keep your rankings high, and you have to expect them to fluctuate throughout the year. What does this mean for you?

  • Ranking competition is fierce. You need a defensive strategy to survive the upcoming competition of 2014.
  • SEO isn’t a one-time deal. It must be maintained and evolve as SEO practices change.
  • If you plan on successfully defending your visibility, traffic and conversions to sales, you need to allocate both money and resources into your budget for 2014. Skimping is out of the question!

#3: Quick Fixes Lead to a Quick Death

The rule of 2014 is to following SEO best practices. Cutting corners and attempting quick fixes—you know, the “I’ll tie up the loose ends later” approach—is something Google will not tolerate. A quick fix would get you quickly banned from Google!

The 2014 SEO Game Plan

Now that your head is reeling from the challenges, let’s talk game plan. It’s time to push a positive spin on the new frontier of SEO. After all, it’s entirely possible you already have plenty of best practices in place:

  • Keywords. Rest assured that keyword research isn’t gone. It is the very foundation of all on-site SEO and will continue to be such. However, keyword use has changed. You want to avoid inserting an awkward keyword, one that stumbles the reader as they read your content. Google is equipped with synonym identification, meaning you can vary your keywords to better match your content. As a result, Google still indexes the content, but your audience is much happier. Be sure each page of content stands for a single topic. Avoid multiple pages covering the same thing, especially if you’re using synonyms to describe the same or similar thoughts.
  • Quality. It’s been the huge SEO topic of 2013. Google wants to make sure we’re replacing fluff with quality stuff. The days of hyping sales are quickly coming to a close, and as a result attention is shifting to producing quality content. This means presenting well written and well formatted material; material that comprehensively covers a topic or issue.
  • Length. We used to shoot for 300 to 500 word blog posts and website copy. We kept it short and usually fluffed it up to cover over keyword insertion. These days are in the past. Readers prefer longer content, and Google is catering to them. In 2014, quality content with a length in the 2,000-word range is going to be preferred. At any rate, word count should never, ever sacrifice quality, as it is you primary concern.
  • Freshness. Fresh content doesn’t need to be ground shatteringly new. Literature and the written word have been around for centuries. Every idea known to mankind has been written about and explored in some manner. Your goal in 2013 should be to make your content fresh. You need to present your business and ideas from a fresh perspective, going outside the norm.
  • Engagement. If your audience is engaged, they’ll stay on the page to read the content. It’s important to gear your content toward your audience. What issues concern them? What problems do they want to solve? How will you assist them with this?

Google’s New Direction

One of the biggest shakeups of 2013 was Google’s move to 100% secure search. This loops back to the death of the Google Keyword tool we discussed earlier. You see, for those of us watching the tool, we saw a steady rise in the appearance of “Keyword (not provided).” As keywords disappeared, we knew sooner or later the tool itself would vanish. But most of us didn’t expect it to happen this soon.

The release of Hummingbird came right around the time of the Google Keyword tool’s death, and this timing was no mere coincidence. Hummingbird zeroed in on marketing with meaning versus sales fluff. As a result, the push for quality content delivering a clear message grew. Keywords became less important. Content quality and relevancy became everything. What does this mean for your website?

Google Webmaster Tools are taking on a newfound importance when trying to make the most of your SEO campaigns because it’s the only source of keyword data. You’ll now be measuring the effectiveness of your page not by performance, but by potential. Therefore, it is absolutely vital to:

  • Know and understand your audience. Who are they? What are they looking for? How does your company fit the bill? How will your audience search for information? SEO success in 2014 involves thinking beyond traffic and revenue. You have to focus on your audience.
  • Optimize for multiple keywords. Google’s synonym technology has grown in leaps and bounds. Your audience knows there’s more than one way to refer to something. Variety is the spice of life, and it should be present into your copy. Readers—potential customers—want to be engaged with diverse, entertaining content, not boring and irritating repetition.
  • Know your competition. Who else is ranked using your keywords? You can bet they’re hungry to defend and advance their SERPs. You need to know your competition and be ready to defend and advance your SERPs.

The Evolution of SEO

Search engine optimization has evolved dramatically, but 2013 was undoubtedly a year of surprising revolution. In order to be successful in 2014, you need to be on board with change. We’re going to make it easy to spot any changes you need to make to your SEO campaigns with a simple comparison of the current do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t focus completely on keywords. They are only an aspect of search engine optimization.
  • Don’t be a robot. A methodical and mechanical approach to SEO is outdated.
  • Do create quality content. It should be targeted, relevant, and fresh.
  • Do join social media. Think of social media as a digital cocktail party. The who’s who will be there, and that’s where you want your brand to sit.
  • Do focus on building relationships. Your copy and social media should focus on one vital thing to your business: people. Your goal is to reach out and start forging relationships.

As you slide into the New Year, you’re presented with a remarkable business opportunity. The latest changes in search engine optimization in 2013 are pushing businesses to connect with people. A new opportunity to gain a stronger local presence is rapidly approaching.

Social media has taught us that people have a voice, and that a single voice can accomplish remarkable things. In 2014, you have the opportunity to connect with those voices, carry on valuable conversations, and be seen as more than a product or service. You have the unparalleled chance to let your customers see you as a relatable entity, a business sharing their principles and values. As you pour the heart and soul of your business into engaging and moving copy, you’ll accomplish your marketing objects while also building one of the strongest relationships possible with your customer base—a rapport based on trust and loyalty.

Need help with your content? Talk to us today.

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