Growing Your Keyword List

Newcomers to SEO – and even those who aren’t new to the field – often ask a ton of questions about keywords. How many should a website target? How many per page? Where should they be placed? The best answers involve growing your website organically, rather like a garden.

So let’s start with the idea that you’re building a website on gardening. Maybe you want to sell your landscaping services, or maybe you’re helping a local botanical garden build more interest by building up their website. Or you might simply be a hobbyist gardener who wants to share your experiences with other hobbyists. However you look at it, you need to start somewhere.

So choose your main keywords, starting with your home page. Very likely you’ll start with something like “gardening in [your location]” or “landscaping services [location].” But that’s only the beginning. Gardening is a big field, so to speak, so to capture interest and build traffic, you may decide to maintain a blog on your website. You can find a lot of options to help make blogging easy, and some of the best software for blogging is open source (and may not cost you a cent).

If you’re going to start a gardening blog, you’ll want to aim for three blog entries a week. That’s enough new content to attract both the search engines and human readers. Try to be consistent; search spiders and humans are both creatures of habit. If you post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, try not to stray from that unless something really serious happens. Many blogging software suites and content management systems let you create content and schedule it to “go live” on your website well in advance. That would allow you to set aside a block of time to write up several posts.

So what does this have to do with keywords? Patience, I’m getting to that. In your blog posts, you may naturally include the keywords for your home page. After all, if you run a landscaping business in a particular area, and you’re writing a blog that appears on your company’s website, it would look a little funny NOT to mention your business every so often! But those aren’t the keywords you’re aiming for on your blog’s pages. Instead, you’re aiming for related keywords that bring in related traffic.

Let me give you an example. Say you run a landscape business in central Florida. You’re getting questions from your customers about what plants they can grow that will not attract pests. You can do a post titled something like “Growing Pest-Free Plants in Central Florida.” In that post you can talk about which plants attract the fewest pests, what growing conditions they require, how to plant them, how big they get, who should consider growing them, and so forth. With that kind of post, you’re adding a whole host of keywords to your website – not just “growing pest-free plants,” but specific plant names as well.

Now let’s take that example a bit further. Say you’ve gotten some interest in your pest-free plant post, and you’re getting questions about specific plants from that post. You could do another blog entry, this time focusing specifically on that one plant. And in this new entry, you can link back to the older entry, which might encourage new traffic to browse over to it and stay for a while. The important thing is, you’ve added a new page that focuses on a new set of keywords that you only touched on briefly in the previous post. This tactic grows your site’s keywords naturally.

Let’s look at another way to grow your blog entries. This time we’ll focus on gardening tools. What are the most important tools for a typical gardener? Well, you can take several approaches. We’ll assume for the moment that you’re not going to do a “there is no such thing as a typical gardener post” (or save it for later). So take your typical gardener and make a list of the hand tools they’ll need, what they’ll need to use them for, which brand is the best and why, and so forth. Turn that into a blog post.

Now, take one of the tools from that list – the hand shovel, perhaps. Make a list of the top ten things (or ten unconventional things) a conventional gardener will do with that hand shovel. Turn it into a blog post. But you’re not done yet. Take each garden task and turn it into a post on how to do it right.

Here’s the kicker: you can link up all of these posts. So link from the hand shovel in the garden tools post to the top ten things you can do with the hand shovel post. Then link from each task in the top ten things post to the detailed post on how to do that task right. With every post, you’re looking at garden tools – but each time you’re looking at them from a different perspective, thus targeting a different batch of keywords. And all of the keywords are still related and on topic.

I’m using gardening because it seems like the most natural example of a topic that runs deep with a lot of possibilities, but it’s by no means the only one. Think of everything involved in your specific field of endeavor – any special tools, terminology, experiences that newbies always go through, professional conventions, and so forth – and you’ll never run out of topics. Every topic can be subdivided to make interesting blog posts, and every blog post enriches your website with more useful content, and more keywords to bring in more traffic.

So get out whatever tools you prefer to use when you’re brainstorming. Write down some topics, and think about how you can creatively divide them into more topics. Turn these into posts. Let the keywords fall naturally in these posts, and watch your business grow. 

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