Would you like to take a survey? Sincerely Me’s followers recently did. Mindy asked followers to post their SEO questions on Sincerely Me’s Facebook Page. The respondents were business owners and professionals from across the country. Then Mindy answered each question with it’s own post on Facebook. Now we’ve put all the questions and answers in one place. Take a look below to see the questions and answers.
“Now that AdWords requires a paid account to use its keyword suggestions tool, are there any other useful free keyword research tools or platforms I should know about when generating written content?” — Krista
Why are keywords important in SEO?
It’s important to think of keywords as a tool to help you write better. Once upon a time, keywords had the opposite effect on many websites. The content was stuffed full of keywords which made it hard to read, to say the least. The reason content was stuffed with keywords was because that was the way to rank on a certain topic. Thankfully, that isn’t the case any longer.
Now, Google will penalize those who practice keyword-stuffing.
So, why bother with keywords at all? Because they help you be specific. Have you ever read a post or a story in which the writer used so many pronouns that you could barely tell what was going on? If so, then you know that keywords can help clarify the topic and the point.
Because keywords mean being more specific in your writing, you’re also letting Google know the subject of what you’re writing. Once Google understands your content, then your content can be indexed properly and ranked.
But let’s get back to Krista’s question.
Keyword Planner Tools
First, it looks as if Google’s Keyword Planner is still available to those who do not have an active AdWords campaign. It may not be as robust as it once was, though.
If that’s not working for you, or you’d prefer to use something else, then there are many free options that will mostly get the job done. Take a look at AnswerThePublic.com. I love this site for so many reasons (the guy on the homepage being my most favorite feature). The biggest reason is it’s a great tool for figuring out exactly what people want to know about something. If you go to the site, type in a keyword (make sure you select US; it’s a UK website with a UK default) and then watch as your keyword turns into a table of questions. It shows what people are searching for in relation to your keyword. Such as, “What is seo?”
You can then create content to answer the question, creating content that already has a demand.
If you like more technical metrics, then check out KW Finder. It’s very similar to Google’s Keyword Planner in the information it presents, but it does limit what’s shown unless you upgrade to a paid account.
If you’re focused more on local rankings for certain services, then check out IM for SMB. I love the DIY generator, but you have to have a list of good keywords to start with.
Also, here is a good article from Neil Patel that has many more free and paid options for keyword research tools. There are several from Google that have great potential. My favorite on his list is the Adword & SEO Keyword Permutation Generator.
For those who aren’t familiar with keyword research or the tools that go along with it, the best tool for you will probably be different than the best tool for me. Which is best really depends on your goals, for whom you’re writing, their goals, and your own preferences for processing data.
I use Moz and their tools built for pros. These tools come with a hefty price tag, but they save me so much time and my clients so much money (because they would be the ones paying for all that time I would be spending doing research without Moz). The information is exactly what I need and it helps me do my job better by providing the most important information.
So try some tools out. Try out several. See which ones make sense to you, and decide what information and metrics are important to you and your content creation process. There are many reasonably priced tools out there you can try for free for 30 days. Give them a shot if the free tools aren’t cutting it.
Writing with Hierarchy
“If applicable, I’d love to learn what I should know about SEO as a writer (who professes to know nothing about SEO and always requests clients to obtain SEO terms from web pros for me to incorporate into projects) when the need arises.” — Abbi
The best thing you can do as a writer to help your clients rank is to write great content that people want to read. Aside from that, help your clients rank by writing with hierarchy in mind. What hierarchy am I referring to specifically? One that includes breaking up sections by using headings tags.
What is a heading tag? <<<Imagine that question in larger, bolder font. Like this…
What is a heading tag?
That’s what a heading tag does. So, heading tags have their own hierarchy with the largest headings starting at h1 and working downward to smaller with h2, h3, all the way down to h6. These tags format text differently than standard paragraph text and make them stand out in an article. In a text editor such as Squarespace’s or WordPress’s, you can simply click “heading1” and it will automatically insert the appropriate HTML tag.
Why does it matter if you use heading tags? Because titles and headings are vital to any web-based articles or pages for a couple of reasons:
- Headings and shorter paragraphs between each heading breaks up the information and encourages the reader to keep reading, and also allows for skimming.
- The words used in headings hold a little more weight with Google because you’re signaling that this is what this page or article is about.
While not even close to the sole factor in ranking, it is important to use your important keywords in the headings of a web page or blog post. It’s equally important to use the headings to summarize or give a glimpse into the next section of text. The headings must be relevant to the text that follows and the overall content.
After a heading tag is used, the next paragraph is creating context for the topic of the heading. This is important to humans and robots (Google’s crawlers who read and index each page). The robots then know that you’re writing something that goes together; it isn’t about the keywords you’re using both in the heading and in the body of the text, but an overall idea or thought to which those words belong. They piece together the relevancy of what you’re saying to a certain set of words, and then they index and rank you for it.
So, make sure you’re using heading tags. Don’t use them decoratively for random sentences, but use them as a summary of the next paragraph including the important words in both the heading and the paragraph. Your URL and title should also contain the most important keyword you’re using.
Again, though, as a writer writing for businesses, the best thing you can do for your clients is to write the best darn content their clients have ever seen (as I know Abbi does).
To learn more SEO basics, check out Google’s own Starter Guide to SEO, or check out the next article here address more questions (we’re talking about images and SEO and other important things).