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November 28, 2022, by DRM

Whether you’re a titan of industry or emerging enterprise, an online presence is essential. Assuming that you understand the importance of maintaining a digital identity, there’s another critical aspect to consider while building your organization’s visibility: SEO or Search Engine Optimization. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll not only have the tools to begin optimizing your content but you’ll have a firm understanding of its complexity, relevance, and impact on your website’s performance and authority.

We recommend you follow this guide to sound SEO practices or risk wading fruitlessly in the shallow pool of mediocrity.

Let’s begin…

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. Coined in 1997, the phrase is self-explanatory, albeit a bit confusing. Put plainly, SEO is the practice of enhancing the quality and volume of your website traffic, exposure, and brand visibility via non-paid (or “organic”) search engine results. This is accomplished using various techniques that profile your target audience and lead them to your digital content.

There are many ways to optimize your content; however, success hinges on how well you know your audience. Who are they? Where are they? What words or phrases are they searching? And, perhaps most importantly, why are they performing the search? Regardless of your expertise, all good SEO begins with the answers to these questions. Search engine optimization is as much about understanding human psychology and approach to finding information as it is about algorithms and statistics. It’s equal parts art and science.

How Do I Find My Target Audience?

Before doing anything else, it’s important to figure out who is likely to purchase your product or service. If you’re an established business, this information should be fairly easy to identify via i) your existing customer base, and ii) a thoughtful examination of potential consumers and prospects. There’s no shortage of ways to collect data that will help inform your target audience online, in-person, and through a variety of analytic tools. If you’re a newer business, it’s crucial to determine who your target audience is and how they behave online i.e. the keywords your target audiences use to search and shop.

Ultimately, the goal is for your target audience to find you as easily as possible. For example, if you own a coffee shop, you’ll want your website to show up when your desired audience searches for things like “coffee shops near me” or “best coffee places in town.” Similarly, if you operate an ecommerce business, you’ll want to show up for “best coffee” or “buy coffee online.”

Once you know and understand your audience, the trick is to figure out what words they use to search. Once those keywords have been identified, you’ll want to include them in your content strategy for ongoing SEO. Utilizing these keywords in content across your digital platforms helps search engines to better recognize and recommend your business, service, product, etc. The net result of this process will help connect you with your ideal target consumers.

How Do I Choose the Right Keywords?

Finding the right keywords is both simple and complex. As for the simple part, a local coffee shop would likely want to rank high in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for search terms like “coffee shops near me” or “best coffee places in town,” but they’ll be competing with the likes of Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and possibly other places that sell coffee too e.g. McDonald’s, or a local diner. If you’re selling coffee online, ranking for terms like “best coffee,” can be even more difficult. We have to understand the different types of keywords and get a little creative.

There are two types of keywords used in SEO: Long-tail (four words or more) and Short-tail (three words or less). In a business as competitive as coffee, you’ll want to utilize the more specific long-tail version (though you should always use a mix of the two). This is a scenario where it is important to understand how your audience searches.

To maximize results, you’ll need to understand your business and what makes it unique. For example, if you sell organic or specialty coffee, you would target key-phrases such as “best organic coffee near me” or “100% natural organic coffee.” You may still be in a sizable pool of competitors but you’ll find much greater success with long-tail niche phrases that speak to your specialty.

Dark Roast Media Pro Tip

A patient, thoughtful, and realistic analysis of your target keywords is essential. Avoid meaningless objectives e.g. ranking for obscure (low search volume) terms as well as blind optimism with highly competitive (high search volume) terms.

Keyword Checklist:

1. Location (neighborhoods, districts, and cities)

2. How consumers search for problems and solution

3. Useful synonyms

4. Colloquial phrases and manners of speech

5. Auto-fill results / Google search completion

6. Competitor keywords

7. Amazon search completion (if applicable)

8. Google keyword tool

9. Abbreviations and acronyms (i.e. NY, NJ, CA)

10. Word variations

11. Related search terms

I’ve Chosen My Keywords. Now What?

Once you’ve got a healthy mix of long and short-tail keywords, it’s time to put them to work, which may include a review of your existing content. If you already have solid content, take the time to apply your target keywords appropriately. It should be noted that you never want to go overboard with your keywords. Mindlessly stacking keywords into a piece of content (or “keyword stuffing”) will send red-flags to search engines, and you may be indexed as spam. Negative strikes, such as these, are often a hassle to overcome.

Dark Roast Media Pro Tip

A patient, thoughtful, and realistic analysis of your target keywords is essential. Avoid meaningless objectives e.g. ranking for obscure (low search volume) terms as well as blind optimism with highly competitive (high search volume) terms.

A natural and ‘organic’ application of your keywords will be to your benefit. While this approach to content development may require more time and energy, your efforts will be rewarded by both your target audience as well as search engines. If your site’s content is sparse or you’re just starting out, you’re in an arguably advantageous position as you have the opportunity to form a solid foundation based on a focused content strategy.

There’s always more to brew. Stay tuned…stay roasted.

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