I don't care what anyone says, search engine optimization isn't hard -- finding the right keywords is.
Choosing the right focus keywords is really what makes or breaks most content and SEO strategies. Pick something too broad and you'll get lost in the crowd; pick something too specific and you just may alienate even your buyer persona.
Note: Since Google has worked tirelessly to ensure that marketers can't game their system, keywords like these can only help you work your way onto page one. The only truly reliable way to rank in the top 10 results is by consistently creating quality content.
By focusing on the quality of your content and targeting the keywords listed below, you are almost guaranteed to get your content discovered on Google faster than ever before.
1. Target Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are search terms or phrases that are more detailed and descriptive than most.
For example, it's the difference between:
"golf club" and "left-handed titanium golf club"
While it's possible to rank for shorter, more competitive keywords, it won't happen overnight. Depending on your niche, it could even take years, but the process of getting found can be far more efficient using popular long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords give you the opportunity to rank faster and higher faster because they're more specific and in turn, have lower search volume. People who search things know exactly what they're looking for and will take action when they find it. They are your buyer persona.
As an inbound marketer, you should be more concerned with attracting your buyer persona (those who are qualified) to your website than attracting just anyone in hopes of hitting high traffic numbers. It's better to have 10 people on your site that are ready to buy than 1,000 people that are only vaguely interested.
By targeting and optimizing your content around long-tail keywords, you can reach the right people quickly, which improves your SEO and helps you rank for more competitive keywords in the future.
How do you find long-tail keywords?
This requires a bit of research on your end, but we've found that targeting the actual language your persona uses serves as an effective way to uncover how they are describing their needs and the words they would type into a search engine in order to fulfill them.
Mine through the comments section on competitor blogs or popular communities like Quora or Amazon to see what people are writing.
You can also go hunting for language or skip to the Q&A section at the end of a webinar that is relevant to your target audience.
2. "Trending" Keywords
Another simple strategy to get your content ranked on Google quickly is to target trending topics or current events (what our friend David Meerman Scott would call "Newsjacking.")
This helps your content get discovered on Google in a couple of ways.
First off, when you create content on trending topics it is more likely to show up in the Google News section above the organic rankings.
Secondly, it may also get picked up in Google's organic rankings quickly because their algorithm is constantly searching for content on trending topics and pages that were most recently updated.
However, this can be a little tricky. You won't be the only one creating content on these trending topics so you'll want to make sure you're not just spitting out the same information as everyone else. You need to inject your reporting with your own unique insights and point of view on the subject. Here are few examples that IMPACT has published recently:
In most cases, the most industry-relevant topics aren't necessarily big news stories for the general public, but you will be competing with other industry publications.
How do you find trending keywords/topics?
The way to beat the competition for trending keywords is be proactive and stay ahead of the game on trend. You can find out what's trending right now by looking at Google Trends, Twitter Moments, Facebook Trends, or any other industry specific news site. For example, at IMPACT, I keep an eye on business publications like Mashable, Contently, Forbes, Inc, and HubSpot.
3. Already-Ranking Keywords
If you've already been creating blog content for a few months or several years, you have a big advantage because you don't have to start from scratch with new keywords. Unlike content newbs, you are likely already ranking for keywords that you never specifically created content for yet.
To find out, open your analytics and look at the search queries that have resulted in your organic traffic. Make a list of the following items:
Keywords that are relevant to your business, but you haven't created any content for yet.
Keywords you've written about, but still have potential for more content.
Keywords that are similar to existing content, but haven't been specifically targeted.
You're already getting traffic from these keywords -- meaning people are searching for them and you're already ranking for them, so use them to your advantage!
Not only will your new content rank quickly for those keywords, but your existing content that contains the same or similar keywords will likely get a boost as well.
SEO compounds over time, so the sooner you start using the types of keywords above, the better results you'll get in the long-run. Improving your rank for these terms will not only help improve your website's overall authority, but in turn help increase the rank of your other keywords in the process.