Up Your Game: SEO Keyword Strategies For 2016


Great SEO writing is content rich, includes relevant keywords tailored to a buyer’s journey, is targeted to a specific market, and aims to build relationships with real people.

Can you say these things are true about your blog content?

In 2016, it’s important that your SEO keyword strategies are working to meet all of these critical criteria to be meaningful, for you and your readers both. Here’s what you need to know.

SEO Keyword Strategies for 2016

1. Target specific points in the buyer’s journey.

The buyer’s journey comprises three major steps: developing interest, researching solutions, and purchasing. When focusing content to the steps of the buyer’s journey, you have tremendous opportunities to build long-tail keywords and create optimized content which brings the right leads to your site.

Long-tail keywords have “a minimum of four words,” according to Neil Patel, an internet marketer and entrepreneur. A four-word search term gets fewer views, which means that the competition for content ranking is significantly less, and the chance of a specific user action from the content is higher, if you’re able to match content with intent.

If a construction firm wanted to create a blog that got DIY homeowners on an email list, a keyword like “DIY plumbing tips for homeowners” would pull in the targeted audience at the stage in the buyer’s journey the company wanted them: finding more information.

On the other hand, if a marketing agency wanted to write a post to get customers to request a free demo of their advertising management software, a good long-tail keyword could be “social media marketing solutions for small business.” The keyword focuses on a specific subset of the client base.

If you were to research this term, from smallest keyword “social media marketing” to the long-tailed version listed above, you would discover a spread from 90,500 search terms/month and 233 million websites down to 70 searches/month for “social media marketing solutions” and only 16 million web pages that rank for social media marketing solutions for small businesses.

As you see, focused keywords and SEO content provide you opportunities for content that can capture customers when they need your product, service, or advice, and target specific actions in the buyer’s journey.

Just make sure your long-tail keyword isn’t too specific—or doesn’t have too much competition. Find a middle ground.


2. Go local. 

Locally focused long-tail keywords give you the ability to optimize content without competing for the global marketplace of generic long-tail keywords.

For example, website design is a great service to offer people, but if you try optimizing for “quality inbound marketing website design,” you are still going to have significant competition for ranking your content. If, on the other hand, you write content for “quality website design Rock Hill SC,” you will have much less competition.

With locally focused long-tail keywords, you also have more and unique ways to rank your content. If someone enters a search term that Google thinks is related to a local need, it will return map results as well.

If your business is optimized for local searches, then you will get first-page search results just by virtue of the searcher’s location. Since mobile officially surpassed desktop for searches in 2015, the location of your prospects can be just down the street, giving you a prime opportunity to grab their attention when they are looking for your service from their phone.

When looking at local keywords, make certain that you submit your business to local search engines, data aggregators, and optimize for Google, Bing, and Facebook’s local business information. This gives you additional exposure for your website and your business and helps your keywords rank for local searches.

3. Grow your content.

Believe it or not, longer articles fare better for search engine ranking, and when you are selecting a keyword, there are many advantages for using more content to describe it. Longer content naturally ranks for keywords even though they may not be those you optimized your post for. When you are selecting content for your site, make certain to still pay attention to the pesky technical aspects of your content: tags, meta tags, URL addresses, titles, and subtitles.

When selecting a keyword, you should also take the time to consider closely related keywords that your page might also gain rank from search engines on. A keyword tool like Keyword Keg will give you immediate results on the search engine usage for a specific term. Use it to try out several permutations of your keyword that will naturally occur in an article.

For example, this article is designed to talk about SEO keyword strategies for 2016, but it may also pull up search engine optimization, inbound marketing, content creation or varieties of all of them.


4. Build customer relationships.

As you finish up the marketing year, it is important to remember that building a relationship with your customers is just as important as creating optimized content.

SEO keyword strategies are essential to getting customers in your business, but they are not adequate solely on their own. Great SEO processes involve building outbound links streamlined for your chosen content where customers may be collecting information other than on your site, or forging relationships with important influencers.

In order to build relationships that are relevant to keywords, there are several essential platforms to assist in doing so. Places to increase audience exposure are through social content, legitimate guest blogging, and blogging on platforms like LinkedIn. Exposure positively affects your SEO if you provide quality educational, actionable information in that content.

A note about “guest blogging”: in the many links above, you will see that Google started penalizing spammy guest-blogging SEO practices in 2014. Paying to put posts on someone else’s website, stuffed with links back to your own site, is an attempt to trick search engines into giving your site a rank that it doesn’t deserve.

In 2016, guest posts (like BlogMutt’s ongoing guest posting relationship with MarketingLand) should be sincere efforts from networking partners who can offer insight and quality content to your readership. Consider reaching out to influencers in your industry, or even to customers for guest posting opportunities.

What’s New In 2016

The best modern strategies focus on delivering great content about specific long-tail keywords that your customers or leads will benefit from. If you focus on doing this, people will notice, they will link to your site as they tell others how it helped them, and you will rank for the long-tail keywords that customers have selected. This is the power of inbound marketing, and of great content.

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Courtney Tobin

I love ancient languages like Greek and Latin, but modern ones are pretty interesting, too! So working with the written word every day and helping Verblio customers get the content they need is really enjoyable. If I’m not reading Homer or Horace, I’m usually figuring out how everything at Verblio can be even more awesome.

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