SEO: Optimizing for the “right” words and phrases–those that drive real results!

If you Google the term “strategic communications” my company — Strategic Communications — is likely to show up on the first page of the results you see. Great, right? Well, not necessarily. But, the fact that it does, and the results that I see, have provided me with some key insights into the types of words and phrases that I, and my clients, should be optimizing for. When I review my Google Analytics results there are a few key metrics that I monitor regularly — one is bounce rate. The bounce rate gives me an indication of how engaged visitors are with the content on my site. The higher the bounce rate, the lower the engagement. Back when Google still allowed us to see the organic search terms that users were entering that drew them to our web sites (before the Hummingbird release) I noted that while the phrase “strategic communications” was drawing a lot of visitors to my site, those visitors weren’t staying on my site.

Why? Well, consider this logically (as you should when exploring your own web site traffic and analytics). Put yourself in the “heads” of those who are entering this term. What are they likely looking for? Are they looking for a strategic communication consultant? Probably not — if they were, they would probably be entering “strategic communication consultant.” No. They’re probably looking for general information on strategic communication as a concept; they’re likely not looking for a vendor.

And that’s an important insight for anyone hoping to draw meaningful traffic to their web sites. The terms and phrases you choose to optimize for should be those that people who are seeking the products or services you have to offer would likely be using–not generic terms. Think about your own search habits when you’re looking for a product or service. What sorts of search terms do you use; are they general or specific?

Optimizing for the “right” words and phrases will drive real results. And, ultimately, that’s what matters. I don’t really care if I’m on the first page of search results if what’s driving traffic to my site is unrelated to what I have to offer. Those two elements need to work in tandem: I want to drive visitors to my site based on search terms that matter — to them, and to me.

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