If I could give you only one piece of advice in SEO, it would be to find and set the precise topic of your website. I find this is an all or nothing aspect of search engine optimization. My tip #1 is the first step I think everyone should take.
If you name and set your website topic correctly, you can still rank even with rather scrappy content. On the other hand, ignore this step and even if you are #1 in your market this will not be reflected in the search results.
Many SEO experts still focus primarily on technical aspects, which is important. However they forget to mention this key element – setting your website’s topic.
What is a website topic in terms of SEO?
The topic of your website, when talking about Search Engine Optimization, is those 2 or 3 keywords that have real search traffic and describe completely and clearly what your site is about.
It is important when you choose your topic keywords that they are not keywords you want to rank for, but are keywords you can rank for. They may or may not be your most important keywords. Their importance lies in the fact that they make the goals of your site clear to all 3 participants of the game: for you, for Google, and for the visitor.
These 2-3 keywords should be so clear that just by telling them to someone they would instantly know what kind of information your website carries.
This is why I usually find it even more helpful to include some very high search volume keywords that you might not even want to rank for, see my examples below.
Let me illustrate this with an example
Let’s say you want to start a website targeting personal trainers in the US. Once you do quick research, you’ll discover that there are at least a dozen different subtopics under the same main topic.
- You can create a general site about personal trainers.
- A site about personal trainer certification.
- A site for personal trainers looking for jobs.
- A site for personal trainers looking for marketing advice.
- A site for people looking for personal trainers.
- A local site for people looking for personal trainers in New York.
- … etc.
All these fall under the main topic of personal trainers, yet they imply rather different content.
How to find the topic keywords of your website
Your friend here should be the free Google AdWords Keyword Planner. I know there are plenty of other keyword research tools, but you want to find high volume and somewhat generic keywords, so I find this is the best tool for the situation.
Simply log into your Google AdWords account, go to Tools » Keyword Planner, and select Search for new keywords … Enter your ideas and hit Get ideas.
Start playing with different keywords. Try to think about what should best describe your website. If you have a real life business, ask your friends and customers this simple question: “What would you say my business is about?“
Play with the words and keywords. Try plural and singular, more specific and less specific keywords.
- On the generic end, you should choose something that still describes your business or website. In the example above, “personal trainer” is a good keyword for all situations (even if you might have no chance of ranking for this keyword). “Trainer“, “training” on the other hand are just too generic, don’t use them.
- On the specific end, choose 1 or 2 keywords that describe clearly your business or website, yet they have high search traffic. Look for numbers relatively high in the results. Sometimes 2,000 is OK, sometimes you go for a larger number, depending on the topic. When targeting a local audience (e.g. personal trainers in New York), even a few hundred monthly searches are OK.
Following the example above, these keywords could be a good idea for the different types of personal training websites, as topic keywords:
- For a general site about personal training: personal trainer, personal training.
- For a site about personal trainer certification: personal trainer, personal trainer certification, personal training certification.
- A site for personal trainers looking for a job: personal trainer, personal trainer jobs, personal trainer job.
- A site for personal trainers looking for marketing advise: personal trainer, personal trainer marketing, personal training marketing.
- A site for people looking for a personal trainer: personal trainer, personal trainers, personal trainer directory, find a personal trainer.
- A site for people looking for a personal trainer in New York: personal trainer nyc, personal trainers nyc, personal trainer new york.
Please observe that just by looking at the keywords above, you can be 100% sure what that specific site is about.
Why do I push this?
I’ve seen so many businesses struggle in Google just because they forgot to clarify their topic.
You might think this is simple, but sometimes it makes a huge difference to find and set the right keywords. I repeat, not because you’ll start to rank for those difficult keywords, but because you make your website topic clear.
This is a screenshot of one of my customers’ results in the search results. They achieved 410% increase in the number of visitors from search engines in just 2 weeks after clarifying the topic (first arrow). The second arrow shows when they started targeting other keywords with articles, see in a future post.
So please go ahead and start using Google AdWords Keyword Planner now and find the best 2-3 keywords that describe your site!
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