Keywords: The Key to Success for Small Businesses

A close look at Signature Pools's (Sandwich, Ill.) homepage. - Click to enlargeA close look at Signature Pools's (Sandwich, Ill.) homepage. - Click to enlargeWhat's one of the most important, valuable and high-return activities in marketing? Keyword research!

In the expanding universe of the Internet, it's easy for your site to get lost. Search engine optimization is the science of using keywords to get your website into the first page of results in a Google search, and get the right group of potential customers coming to your site.

Boosting traffic is important, but what you're really looking for is qualified traffic. After all, it's not just about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors. 

Case in Point

Recently, a client came to us at Aquarius Designs with a problem. He had thousands of visits to his company's site but wasn't seeing many conversions β€” those visits weren't turning into business.

When we took a deep dive into his analytics, we saw more than 70 percent of the site's traffic was coming from outside the United States. As a New Jersey-based business, he wants to target potential customers in his local area, so we knew what we needed to do: Change his keywords. But how do you know what keywords to choose?

The Importance of Relevance and Location

The key to successful SEO is concentrating on the "long tail," or very specific terms. Although they get less traffic than more generic terms, they invite more qualified traffic and users that are farther along in the buying process.

For instance, if you're a pool builder, there's a good chance you'll attract more qualified prospects with "fiberglass in-ground pool installation" rather than just "swimming pools." That's because the former shows the user is in research mode β€” she knows exactly what kind of pool she wants, and she's not interested in broad, non-specific results. While optimizing for "swimming pools" has its place, going with the more relevant keyword is your best bet.

When people are looking for contractors and services, they'll typically include their location in the search. So, "fiberglass in-ground pool installation" will become "fiberglass in-ground pool installation in Middletown N.J." Keep that in mind when working on your keywords.

Now It's Time to Optimize

When it comes to SEO, the success of your organic search efforts relies on how well you discover, research, analyze and select the right keywords for your website. All other aspects of SEO rest on successful optimization. Here's just a few examples:

Title Tag.  See screenshot (above)

Content strategy. Hoping to rank well and connect with searchers? Pepper your keywords throughout your content β€” but don't overdo it. "Keyword stuffing," as its called, is penalized by Google's search algorithm. Your goal is quality over quantity. (Need ideas for your content marketing? Check out our sidebar.)

Images. The photos on your website should include keywords in the file names.

Links. Integrate your keywords into your link-building strategy. That includes internal links, inbound links and navigational links.

Meta Description.  Not as important as in the past, but including your optimized keywords in your text snippets can help to get more clicks in searches.

URL. Include your keywords in your page's URL. For instance:

No matter what type of business you own, content marketing and keyword research is now an essential part of marketing your business. With just a little bit of time, you can reach new audiences and stay better connected to your existing customers. Follow our advice and you can see an immediate boost in your leads.

Stay tuned for even more helpful tidbits about the world of Internet marketing from the professionals at Aquarius Designs.

Don't Forget About Content Marketing!

In the grand scheme of things, content marketing is a relatively new concept. The general idea is rather easy to understand β€” you create compelling content (through a blog or a news section on your website) that draws attention, generates buzz and builds trust. But like anything new, there's a learning curve β€” especially for small businesses that may find it harder to continually find new content.

If you already have a blog on your website and are trying out content marketing β€” way to go! Here's some advice to keep your blog updated with exciting content.

Build a Content Calendar
Just like your work commitments and appointments, putting your content creation on a calendar will help ensure you make it happen in a timely fashion. As a first step, put together a calendar of content for the current month and give yourself enough time to strategize, brainstorm, create and publish.

Remember: Content marketing isn't a one and done thing. Search engines reward websites that consistently publish content by raising their search ranking. Shoot for new content at least once a week. And once you've developed the content for your site, you can use it in social media posts, your e-newsletters, etc.

Show You're an Expert in Your Field
Nobody knows your business better than you do, so show everyone why you have been in the business for so many years. In the pool and spa industry, customers always have questions β€” When should I open my pool? When do I need to change my spa filter? How should I treat my pool water after my big Memorial Day party? β€” so mine them for content! Not only will you keep the content coming, you'll be positioning yourself as an industry expert at the same time.

See What's Working Out There
Research other sites to get inspired. Understand why certain content works and doesn't work. Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools can show you your top-trafficked pages and search queries to see what content of yours has performed the best. Understanding these trends will show you what's worked in the past and where you should head moving forward.

Get Social
Social media sites provide great ideas for real-time content. In particular, trending topics are great way to see the "hot button" news that people are reading about. Keep an eye on the trends you see on Facebook and Twitter, and if something resonates with you and your business, jump on it.

Repurpose Content
Business gets busy. If brainstorming and research is too time-consuming, revisit an older piece of writing, rewrite and update it to reflect new trends and info. Need an example? Say you already did a post on when to open a swimming pool. But this year, you started carrying a new product that makes it easy to clear up that water. Use the product as your chance to revisit pool opening!

Track and Measure Results
According to the 2015 B2C Content Marketing Report, 51 percent of B2C business owners have trouble measuring the effectiveness of their content. So, even though we're investing more time and money into content creation and distribution, many of us don't know whether that content is working. Logging onto Google Analytics just once a month to see how your content is performing will inform and shape your future content.


Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail [email protected].

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