Choosing the best search terms for on-site SEO…

… and tackling them in a sensible order

When you’re neck deep in your industry sector it’s easy to assume you know instinctively what key terms  prospects are using to track down products and services like yours. But guessing key phrases can send you down the wrong track.

Here’s an example. As a freelance copywriter I could assume that loads of people a month are searching Google using terms like freelance copywriting and freelance copywriter. And right enough, a decent number of them are.

Do keyword research instead of making assumptions

But a spot of key term research reveals tens of thousands more searching for a freelance writer, presumably because while the word ‘copywriter’ is used extensively in the creative industry, it’s relatively rare in everyday life.

Why does it matter? If, for argument’s sake, 500 people a month search for a freelance copywriter but 25,000 search for a freelance writer, it’s obvious which term has the most potential. ‘Writer’ wins hands down on volume.

Subtlety wins

On the other hand a little subtlety is required here. ‘Freelance writer’ is a much broader term. People searching Google for a freelance writer might want a novelist, journalist, biographer or ghost writer. Whereas people searching for a freelance copywriter want exactly that. They’re more tightly targeted, more likely to click through to my site and more likely to buy my services.

I decided long ago to concentrate my on-site SEO on the less popular terms first because they’re low hanging fruit, an easier and faster SEO win. Then chase after the term ‘freelance writer’, taking it slowly and treating it as a challenge.

Keyword tactics

Ranking well for such a popular term is going to be an uphill struggle without resorting to jiggery pokery. And I’m hopeless at link building, something I have never done and don’t intend to start doing. It might not happen. But it’s worth a punt, so here’s what I’m going to do:

  • Start using the term regularly in this blog
  • Think about creating a quality landing page to cover the term
  • Consider adding a new web page and / or blog page, bearing in mind I don’t want to repeat myself or bore visitors
  • Mull over the relative merits of adding a pertinent ebook, white paper, .pdf or whatever
  • See if I can buy a strong url including the term, on which to build a new site from scratch and drive fresh traffic my way
  • Decide if and how social media can play a part in the process
  • Get my content and creative ducks in order
  • Make a solid plan
  • Diary to work on it for an hour a day over the next few months