On the Family Fued game show
Just like Family Feud, you may think you know what “our survey says,” but you could be totally wrong about keywords.

On the game show Family Feud, host Steve Harvey asks contestants to provide the most popular answer to a survey question that was answered by 100 people. Inevitably, at some point in each show, Steve calls on a contestant who answers with full confidence, only to find their answer isn't even on the board.

Just like that poor contestant on Family Feud, when optimizing content for search, you may assume you know exactly what “our survey says,” but you could be completely out of touch.

We asked 100 Google users…

Knowing the correct terms or phrases to use when optimizing your site is the cornerstone of a successful SEO strategy.

When creating new content, such as blog posts, you may assume you're optimizing for the right terms, just like that confident contestant on the Family Feud.

But if you're focused on the day-to-day operations of your business, as you probably should be, you might be out of touch with what terms customers actually use when describing or seeking your product or service.

The terms you use internally can form a unique vernacular, but may not accurately represent what customers are searching for. When your content is optimized for those company or industry specific terms, the results are less than desired. You end up putting all that work into optimizing content but the resulting website traffic is underwhelming.

For a higher probability of an increase in qualified organic traffic, a thorough, insightful plan based on customer insights and research is required.

Win the game by knowing the answers

Unlike Family Feud, when forming an SEO strategy you actually have the advantage of knowing all of the answers. Here are a few ways to learn what customers are searching for and how to optimize your content.

  1. Listen to your customers - It sounds so simple. It's critical to understand who your target audience is and what types of things they are looking for. When you think about it, this is the most logical step: pay attention to your customers to find out what they are looking for. However, it's often overlooked. By listening to customers at trade shows, during customer service calls, on social networks, in forums, etc. you can gain insights into the topics and terms your customers are discussing, which will help guide your content and SEO strategies.
  2. Conduct keyword research, constantly - Free tools like the Google Adwords Keyword Tool are available which assist in uncovering popular terms that you may not have considered. Often times a keyword found through Adwords may have the same meaning as a term in your corporate vernacular but be far more popular in search rankings. This is like the "Ah-ha!" moment from Family Feud when the popular survey answers are revealed and you think, "I knew that, but why didn't I think of it?"
  3. Use variations of keywords - When writing blog posts, use slight variations of your target keyword. So, instead of just using "coffee mugs", try "coffee mug" or "coffee cup." This will broaden your keyword portfolio and help you rank for a greater variety of terms. While one of those variations might have much higher search volume, you may as well rank for all three.
  4. Vary your blog posts - In the same vein as using variations of keywords, you should mix up your blog's subject matter. Use the same keyword a hundred times in each blog post and your audience will become inundated and disinterested. Vary your topics and you'll vary your keywords accordingly, while maintaining the reader's interest.
  5. Target long tail keywords - This is a staple of any SEO strategy but it is worth reiterating. Long tail keywords – multi-word phrases that narrow down the subject matter - present a great opportunity to capture users who know exactly what they want. You'll also likely get more qualified website visitors from long tail keywords.

As with all content marketing, it's fundamentally important to keep your keyword strategy relevant to your company's expertise.

A search keyword may have low competition, high search volume and look like a good target but that term might be so thinly tied to what your company actually does that it's not worth fighting for. In other words, a keyword may seem like a great opportunity for driving traffic, but if what visitors find when they get to your site doesn't match their expectation, then your conversion rate will suffer and your efforts are ultimately misguided.

So, like a cheater on Family Feud, you've got the answers to the survey questions available to you before the game starts simply by paying close attention to your customers.

You understand the information they're looking for, the common terms they use to describe your business. You've verified your findings and have found new opportunities through keyword research. And by optimizing for those words and phrases, you're poised to win the game!

How to attract and sell to more customers using your website