Gardening has been a passion of mine for the past several years. Lately, I have found myself answering plant questions from friends, co-workers, and neighbors on a regular basis. I started thinking about the knowledge I have in gardening and what I do at work: internet marketing. The two come together almost seamlessly, especially in the realm of SEO. Wondering how having a green thumb could possibly relate to a website? Here are five ways that gardening and keyword optimization are in sync:
1. Refine Your Focus
An enthusiastic gardener, my coffee table is overflowing with dog-eared seed catalogs by mid-winter. In the middle of ice slicks and snowdrifts, I have grand ideas of what I want to plant once spring arrives. However, I must reel myself back into a world of reality, and most importantly: effectiveness.
The same can be said for performing keyword research for your website. While you may have broad ideas of what your business does, it is crucial to narrow down focus. While I consider light, soil conditions, and plant size when choosing seeds, you are going to take a different approach. Take a look at your site – what does your page offer to people? What are people getting from it? What are people searching for? These are all questions that will help guide you in your search for keywords.
In my experience, the most productive gardens start with a plan based on foresight of growth habits and seasonal conditions. The same can be said for the effective use of keywords in a website, only now we are considering the habits of the consumer and the changing nature of Google’s algorithms. To get the most out of keyword optimization, it is important to have a plan.
Mapping out your keywords is an important step in the optimization of your website. Choose the website pages you want to target and assign one or two keywords to each page, being careful not to repeat the same keyword more than once. You will then add these keywords to the page’s title, description, body, and alt tags on images. Hal wrote a great blog post on this topic if you would like more detail. Consider this step as plotting out your garden and sowing the seeds.
3. Analyze and Make Adjustments
Each evening in spring and summer, I enjoy walking around my garden to check on the plants. I note new vegetables in their early stages, tie floppy stalks to old branches for support, pull weeds, cut back fast-growing varieties, and decide others are too far gone to save. Some days, I will move entire plants or portions of them to increase their health. When the soil is dry and the sun has dropped, I give them all more moisture.
While it would be just a tad obsessive to monitor your website daily, doing it once a month is a good idea and is akin to my walks around the garden. With Google Analytics, you will analyze the health of your site and be able to gauge the success of the focus keywords you are optimizing for. From here, you can watch the numbers go your way, decide to wait things out, or choose to make an adjustment. There is a time for all of them – even websites need a good weeding now and again, and not all seeds are going to grow as planned.
4. Enjoy the Rewards
The harvest of a ripe heirloom tomato is one of the biggest successes in my garden, but there are numerous small daily rewards, from a new squash blossom to a tiny radish sprouting towards the sun. Increasing your conversions by a certain amount may be your ultimate goal – your heirloom tomato – but always enjoy the other rewards optimizing your website has to offer. Has there been an increase in organic traffic and your search rankings? Have you seen any other increases on a month over month basis? That is something to be proud of – your hard work is seeing results.
And remember: it takes time and practice to grow an heirloom tomato by seed, just as it takes time to see results from keyword optimization. Patience is one of the most important gardening lessons we can apply here today.
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