Illustration of a heart in a magnifying glass with a search engine on a computer screen behind it.

If you’re sitting down to write a blog, chances are you want to reach new readers. To reach the right readers, you’ll need to get Google on your side and choose keywords for SEO (Search Engine Optimization.) You’re in the right place: Determining your keyword strategy before you start writing is ideal. How to find the right keywords for SEO is both an art and a science. It’s an art in that keywords come from real people asking Google their real questions. But it’s a science in that artificial intelligence is deciding which articles should go on the first page of search results.

In my work as a content strategist, I’ve seen a wide range of keyword approaches — some of which deliver results and others that don’t. To help you pick the ones that work, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite tips on how to select keywords. My perspective comes from shaping content strategy and writing content for blogs, websites and white papers that connect with the right audience. Now, I’m sharing my keyword-finding process with you!

1. Find the right partner

There are many specific technical components of website optimization. Keywords, headings, image tags, cornerstone content — the list goes on.

The right search partner can help guide you through each of these strategies and learn how to identify keywords for SEO. A search partner is a person or organization that specializes in SEO. And in healthcare marketing, finding a partner with specific experience in the industry is a must. Search strategy is constantly evolving. It pays to have a partner who’s on top of the latest trends and can help shape your organization’s digital approach.

Find someone who understands the technical side of SEO and can connect those details to your organization’s strategy. A “strong” keyword isn’t any good if it doesn’t align with your business goals, marketing strategy, brand voice or target audience.

When you’re evaluating search partners, look for someone who:

  • Speaks knowledgeably about the latest trends and best practices in search
  • Answers your questions completely and backs up their approach with research
  • Can connect those trends specifically to your organization’s strategy

2. Stay informed about the latest news in search

It’s good to have a basic understanding of the best practices in SEO, including keyword selection. Staying informed about changes to Google’s algorithm helps in three ways:

  1. You can better engage with your search partner.
  2. You can help guide those writing content for your site.
  3. You can share new best practices and update old approaches that may now be detrimental (like keyword stuffing.)

Find a few reputable sites that provide up-to-date information and how-to advice. My favorites include:

3. How to find keywords? Take advantage of free tools

Wondering how to find keywords? Google’s Keyword Planner Tool allows you to input possible keywords and see general data about search traffic. You can also tailor your search by location to find out what consumers are looking for in your area. Keep in mind that while parts of the tool are free, more in-depth information is available through Google’s paid platform.

Here are some other free SEO tools that we like:

Another invaluable free resource is your own website. Pay attention to what (and how) consumers are searching within your website. Google Analytics and Google Search Console can show your most popular pages. This important information can help drive your content and keyword strategy.

4. Think like a consumer

Rather than pouring hours into a blog post and finding out after the fact that it isn’t performing well, research keywords before you start writing. To choose good keywords, put yourself in your consumer’s shoes. How would you search for something? What do you Google when you have questions about your health? Chances are you’re not typing general or vague terms into Google like “cancer diagnosis” or “diabetes.” Long-tail search terms (three or more words) are more effective. This includes questions and phrases that help consumers zero in on the information they want to find.

For example, a consumer looking for advice on preventing heart disease isn’t necessarily going to search for “heart health.” This general keyword pulls too much information, which makes it hard for consumers to find what they are looking for. Instead, try specific phrases such as:

  • Heart healthy meals
  • How to prevent heart disease
  • Heart attack signs
  • Angina symptoms

Be sure the keywords you’re selecting align with your organization’s content strategy. The strongest keyword isn’t any good if it’s not helping drive results for your organization and marketing plan.

5. Look at competitors

Once you have a list of keyword ideas, look at your direct brand competitors (other organizations in your field) and Search Engine Results Page (SERP) competitors (other results for your keywords on Google.)

When you find out upfront that SERPs don’t align, you can rule some ideas out and go after a keyword and phrase that will create the ROI you’re hoping for.

Using a tool like SEMRush can show you what keywords your competitors are ranking for. These indicate what topics interest your target audience. They also show you what search terms your audience is using. For example, are they searching for “cancer care” or “oncology services”? What information are they looking for? Symptoms, specialists, primary care providers?

Once you find keywords that work well for your competitors, look at the top Google results for the long-tail keywords you’re considering. You don’t need a tool for this one — just enter the keywords into Google search and look at the first page or two! This will show you what discussion points users are interested in and if those keywords align with your business strategy.

For example, if you want to write a post on managing diabetes during the holidays, top SERPs might be recipes on food blog sites. In this case, you’ll want to choose a keyword that generates results with a healthcare angle instead.

6. Embrace the change

SEO is constantly changing. Google continues to tweak its algorithms to help consumers find relevant and helpful information. New technology is also changing how consumers search online. Mobile and voice search have made a big impact on when and how users look for information.

The best part of these changes is that nothing is etched in stone. Try a few strategies out. See what works best for your consumers and organization. Evaluate your results and adjust accordingly. Keywords are a key part of your digital strategy — and a great way to help consumers find your content and get the help they need.

Let WriterGirl help you with your SEO

Looking for a partner who can deliver results in content strategy or content creation? WriterGirl is here! We help healthcare organizations strengthen their position in the marketplace. (And on Google results pages.) Contact us to learn how we can help.