Search strategy involves, as a basis, keeping up to date with what the search engines are doing and changing in their practices. Of course, at present, Google takes the lead in this and is often making changes to their algorithm and methods. The large change, for example, involved recently it would seem, is aiming to become more of a social media service and not simply a search vehicle. To keep up with their changes, use forums, SEO (search engine optimization) focused ezines, and search for Matt Cutts as the present Google announcer on these things.
In terms of your specific online business, your strategy needs to be part of your traffic or lead strategy, and of your business strategy overall. See my Learn Internet Marketing articles on developing strategy. Without a thought through strategy for search marketing you either hope for the best (and many do) or jump from method (or trick) to method. As with all your plans and actions in your business it’s important to have clarity about what you’re doing, even if you’re just testing, and the direction you’re moving in: in fact, you want clarity of direction.
It looks like Google have also changed their keywords policy, and instead focusing more on individual words. I’ll briefly look at the keywords area first and then the use of single words.
There is no sense that people should give up on the use of keywords in their search strategy but it’s changed. This is what it used to be like. Having chosen a niche, you research the keywords in it, often through Google’s now defunct Keyword Tool and now changed to Keyword planner which does not give as many keywords as previously. Originally, the message was to choose those with the highest searches and the lowest competition. However, this changed quite radically to Google’s insistence that they were interested in showing the most relevant results to searchers relative to the searcher’s search term. So, there was a shift away from the previous method. Google still, at present, wants to provide the most relevant search results.
You’d pick the top keywords for your niche as the most relevant, and maybe include lower down ones, so you’d have each main keyword associated with the related but less important ones in your content. For instance, if you had a page about “growing trees”, with that as the mains keyword, you might have others such as “sapling culture”, ” timing pruning” and “optimum feeding” as related but less important ones. You’d include them all in your page content.
In their Webmaster Tools they also have a list of words organized by the frequency they appear on your page or site. These are single words, not keywords in the sense that they can be groups or phrases of words. They say this is how their crawler sees your site as it tries to work out what an individual page or the site is about.
There can be some surprises. You might think you’ve optimized your page for your main keyword ” growing trees”. But in the frequency list of single words that appear in your content, “growing” might not appear and “trees” might be down at number 20.
What’s the message here?
First, create valuable content with words, including keywords still, that Google sees as important as relevant terms for your content topic.
Second, get keywords from Keyword Planner or Wordtracker or some other tool and still use your main one in the title and spread through the content.
Third, you can choose single words, or those which are part of your keywords, and make your main, most relevant, one the most frequently used in the content.
Fourth, having said the above, if you write content your visitors want and you include relevant keywords, you’re almost bound to cover the ground with other relevant words and their frequency – it’ll be almost natural.
Some people have always found it incongruous how or why Google presents certain search results and not others. There’s probably a combination of at least these:
content relevant to the search term
valuable content relative to the search term
the whole site relevance to the search term and the niche
frequency of the search term on the site and/or on the page
Nobody really knows how Google is operating but it comes down to valuable and relevant content. Also, join your site up to Google Webmaster Tools and, in addition, associate it with Analytics. There’s a link on Webmaster Tools. Of course, as said, things change, so as part of your strategy have regular checks on what Google is doing and announcing.