by Elaine Zeinner

I am not an SEO expert. That may seem like an odd starting point for a blog about how to choose the right keywords for websites. My perspective comes from shaping content strategy and writing blogs, websites, white papers, articles and much more that connect with the right audience. Keywords play a big role in that.

Choosing the right keyword can be tricky. I’ve seen a wide-range of approaches – some which are very impressive and others that don’t work quite as envisioned. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite tips on how to select keywords, honed from working with clients to develop strategy and write engaging content.

1. Find the right partner.

There are very specific, technical components of how organizations can optimize their website – from keywords to filling in alt tags, image tags and a whole host of other opportunities within a CMS that helps boost your search rankings.

The right search partner can help guide you through each of these strategies and identify strong keywords. And in healthcare marketing, finding a partner with specific experience in the industry is a must. Search strategy is constantly evolving – and it pays to have someone you can trust to stay on top of the latest trends and shape your organization’s digital approach.

Make sure you find someone who understands the ins and outs of the technical side of SEO and can connect those details to your organization’s strategy. After all a “strong” keyword isn’t any good if it doesn’t align with your company’s business goals, marketing strategy or brand voice.

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. There’s no need to take a deep dive into the topic, but staying informed about any new changes to Google’s algorithm and how to incorporate keywords into copy helps in three ways:

  1. You can better engage with your search partner
  2. You can help guide those writing content for your site when it’s not possible to have a search agency find keywords for every blog post (something not feasible for most of us!).
  3. You can share new best practices and update old approaches (like keyword stuffing) as algorithms change.

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

3. Take advantage of free tools

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

Keywords Everywhere is another free tool. You can download it on Chrome or Firefox to view search value, pay-per-click bids. It also shows related search terms – and offers alternatives.

Another great free resource is your own website. Pay attention to what (and how) consumers are searching within your website and the most popular blogs. This important information can help drive your content and keyword strategy.

 4. Think like a consumer

Put yourself in your consumer’s shoes. How would you search for something – particularly a health-related topic. Chances are you’re not typing in general or vague terms into Google like “heart health” or “diabetes.” Long-tail search terms are more effective. This includes questions and phrases that help consumers zero in on exactly the information they want to find.

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

  • How can I start eating healthier?
  • What is a plant-based diet?
  • How to eat more vegetables
  • Healthy dinner recipes

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. 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 an important part of your digital strategy – and a great way to help consumers find your content.

Tell us, how do you find strong keywords for your content?