Starting an SEO program always begins by identifying your most important website pages, followed by conducting a keyword analysis, and then developing a semantic core. Once these initial stages are conducted, you must continue to monitor and fine-tune your keywords over time to maximize the number of keywords and key phrases that you can rank for. Utilizing experts for tasks that are complex and have a high return may be a wise use of your marketing dollars. Utilizing a combination of DIY and hiring experts has shown the most potential, with the most flexibility, at the lowest cost. The more pages you have that rank for keywords, the more likely your web pages will show up on a SERP. The more your pages show up on a SERP, the more traffic you’ll receive.
Let’s look at a step-by-step guide to ranking for as many keywords as possible.
If you’re just starting your SEO journey, start by selecting your three to five most important pages.
It’s important to understand that new/small websites can't rank for major keywords in competitive niches at all. Ranking for competitive keywords requires a long time period (one to two years), regular investment (permanent link building and content writing), and good user-behavior during this entire period, and other ranking factors that Google takes into consideration such as on-page & technical SEO optimization, and user engagement.
Focus on reworking/re-optimizing your most important pages for keywords that have sufficient search volume and a competitive score of medium or low.
If a page has more than one main keyword, it should be broken into two separate pages. Having a page that has more than one main keyword would mean that in order to appear on a search engine results page, the page would need to rank for more than one keyword, which means more than one search intent. The page should be separated into two or more pages so that each page has one main keyword and one search intent. Each page should have only one main keyword and associated keyword cluster.
Ranking for the main keyword may not be feasible in the short term, especially if you’re trying to rank for a highly competitive keyword. Oftentimes, established companies with high domain authority and high traffic are already ranking for those same main keywords. Selecting keywords from the keyword cluster that have lower competitive scores will drive traffic to your page and gradually increase the overall domain authority of your website.
The more search volume the keyword has, the harder and longer it will take to rank at the top for it. If the keyword has commercial intent, that will be even more difficult. Monthly volume is not a big secret - anyone can check it in a variety of SEO tools.
A keyword cluster is a group of keyword variants derived from the main keyword that share the same search intent that you want to rank for.
In some cases - about 15-20% - the keyword cluster will include the keywords that need to be included on the page (works for pages with educational/informative intent).
For example - if you’re writing an article about "how to grow an apple tree", and your main keywords\ is “apple trees”, you would need to include keywords like "what soil is best for apple trees", "how often to water an apple tree", “apple trees for different regions”, in the article because such keywords help to describe the main keyword to search engines, and will provide more context to your readers.
There can be anywhere from a handful to hundreds of potential keywords for a keyword cluster. These can be synonyms and different word forms, e.g. "hire car lawyer in portland/hire car lawyers in portland/car lawyers hire in Portland".
To select which keywords to rank for, choose keywords in one or both of these two buckets:
Ensure that the keywords you have picked are logically related to the content of the page. It doesn't make sense to optimize your page for the keyword with a monthly search volume of 20 if the main keyword has 5k, because big players ranking for the main keyword usually rank for the very low volume keywords as well.
You can use one of the widely available keyword suggestion tools to identify keywords for the keyword cluster. Many tools require a subscription and take time to learn how to use them. We often recommend hiring a keyword specialist to conduct a keyword analysis and develop a semantic core for the targeted webpages.
The title, description and H1 should include the new keywords from the keyword cluster that you are currently focusing on.
This also works for H2-H6s headings and picture alt tags. Analyze your high-ranking competitors to get some additional ideas. You can find what metatags and headings work well, as well as the structure of their pages, writing style etc.
You can add new keywords to the existing on page content. Make sure that the content flows naturally for the reader. Search engines do not like keyword stuffing, and are pretty good at detecting it, so be careful not to overuse keywords.
You may decide that the best way to cover new keyword ideas is to add a new section to an existing page or add a new page altogether . Recalling our example of growing an apple tree - you may include a section or page that discusses the different types of varieties for different growing regions and climates.
If your company has a blog and / or news letter:
Generate frequent content using the new keywords. Obtain backlinks from other websites to your content or pages using the new keywords. Using the keywords in the anchor text of the links on the other websites will also help in ranking. A backlink from a website with good SEO characteristics will help increase your rankings. Good characteristics of donor websites:
Checking how you rank for each new keyword once or twice a month, and charting the results will provide you with insights of when to change your keywords. Be patient, as it can take time before you begin to see results. It can take up to a month or more before you see your rankings increase.
You can add new keywords or replace old keywords with some that are more competitive. You may have to add additional sentences or paragraphs to keep readability high.
For the new keywords, you will want to edit the page’s HTML tags, including title, description, H1 and H2 tags to include the new keywords. Do not eliminate all of the on-page content using the keywords you just ranked in the top 10 for.
When starting a new search engine optimization (SEO) initiative, start with your most important pages. These are typically your home page and product/services pages. Starting with three to five pages is sufficient for most small to medium businesses.
Add additional pages. As you get the initial pages optimized, you can add more pages and entries into your semantic core and follow the same process until all the important pages are added.
As you expand your keyword rankings and research, you may find that adding additional pages dedicated to related search intents provides additional opportunity for ranking, and more information to your audience.
Looking again at the apple tree example. While we shouldn’t dive into specifics on different types of soils in this specific article, we should create a separate article on soil. Describing why all the different soils in the main article adds a new search intent, which can confuse search engines and your readers alike. Creating a new article where you can provide a good analysis of why different types of soil are good will provide a good opportunity to utilize internal links, and attract traffic to your website for the new search intent. This is a best practice because you'll provide good navigation for users, single topic description of really useful information, and logical SEO optimization for both pieces of content.
By continuously fine tuning your keywords, target page’s HTML tags, and on-page content you will be able to rank in the top 10 for many keywords over time. The goal is rank in the top 10 for as many keywords as possible.
Use an SEO platform that automatically monitors your progress, allows easy fine-tuning to optimize performance, and helps with the hiring and managing of experts. If you haven’t already, add your website to Google Search Console and Google Analytics - this is absolutely free and provides good insights.
Many of the tools also provide great insights on competitors' performance. Usually SEO tools can be expensive, requiring a significant monthly paid subscription for access to the useful features. In addition, many SEO tools are designed for SEO specialists, multiple account management and require knowledge of SEO best practices.
Hiring experts saves you a lot of time, allowing you to reap the benefit from years of experience and expertise. Tasks that have the highest return on investment are:
Four key takeaways to rank for as many keywords as possible:
5Cuxdata provides small businesses with a platform complete with a full suite of SEO dashboards and built in analysis tools. Cruxdata allows you to DIY or hire expert specialists as needed, keeping you in the driver's seat at all times.