Five expert SEO tips

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Selecting the right keywords can help your content dominate Google search results.

This article provides five top tips and techniques, collected from various SEO experts, that I use to get my content to the top of Google search results and attract higher quality Google traffic.

Keyword research tips

Using highly focused content containing specific keywords is the best way to drive large volumes of qualified, organic search traffic. Be warned though, getting to the top spot in Google search results is not easy, and relies more on high quality content than high quality SEO.

In order to do any research, you'll first need to find a tool that allows you to do so. Google Adwords' Keyword tool is the best option if you don't currently use another service.

Make sure you have the "Keyword ideas" results tab (at the bottom of the Adwords' Keyword tool page) selected for the purpose of this article.

1. Select one or two "Exact match" keyphrases

An article should only ever focus on one or two exact phrases. More simply can't be stuffed in while still having content that humans will read.

In addition, it is critical that you do initial keyword research using the "[Exact]" match type. Select this from the left hand column in the Adwords' Keyword tool.

Exact match gives traffic estimates for specific phrases and this can be wildly different from the default broad match data. Exact match traffic volume estimates are therefore much lower than broad searches.

To give you an example, search for "SEO guide" using the "Broad" and "Exact" options simultaneously. You'll see that broad returns approximately 9 times the estimated traffic volumes, which can be misleading, if your looking to target specific phrases (which you are).

2. Use "Broad match" research to find additional keywords

After isolating one or two exact match keywords, it's time to use the broad search to help guide you away from using ambiguous or unpopular keyword variations and synonyms.

Content writing should be natural and easy to read for humans. But, at the same time, there is no harm in selecting for higher traffic phrases.

For example, the phrases "appearing higher in Google search results" and "ranking higher in Google search results" are both easy to read, and people will interpret them in exactly the same way.

The difference is that "ranking higher in Google" has thousands of times more traffic so it makes sense to always use this phrase.

3. Target keywords with appropriate traffic volumes

Be realistic about the keywords you go after. Look at the authority and PageRank of your blog or site and decide whether or not you think Google will place your article above some of the biggest websites in your niche.

"Check out the SEO software used by professional marketers."

There is far more benefit to be had by going after phrases that you can "win".

Look at it like this: If each article you write gets to the top result for a term that has only 500 hits a month, then each article your write should garner around (60% of 500 searches = 350) 350 additional visits per month.

Even writing ten articles a month like this will increase your organic traffic by 3500 visits per month. You'll quickly be making big bucks at that rate.

4. Filter keyword research by location

Local SEO is hugely important. Even if your blog or business does not have geographical limitations, it pays to do regional keyword research.

South Africans search more for "rugby", while Canadians search more for "hockey" (even though it's Ice hockey, not actual hockey ;).

Regional keyword research gives you an additional opportunity to get to the top of search results for specific demographics.

5. Keyword density

Ok, so this is not technically research. But, after doing all the hard work in finding exactly the right keywords to get your content in front of the people you want, don't throw it all away with "keyword stuffing".

Google doesn't like the look of unnatural content. It knows that SEOs regularly try to over-optimize their content and it will penalize you by dropping your content off the top page results if it thinks this is what you are doing.

As a general rule of thumb (that works for me), I use keywords once in the title, once in the URL, and once in the opening sentence or paragraph (and this is then automatically included once in the META description). After that I only use those keywords where it is natural to do so within the context of the article.

Please share your thoughts as well as any more suggestions. If you've got some hidden gems on this topic, I'd love to add them to this article.