This post by Tammy Emineth, content marketer, SEO teacher at Personal SEO – Website SEO and Real Estate Marketing in Marysville, Wash., was originally published on ActiveRain

SEO is getting more and more complicated, and Google is making it harder for all us to find our keywords, track them and figure out the best thing to do with them.

We all know it’s financial. If they can sell us the keywords, why give them to us for free? Ugh. However, Google Analytics is really a helpful way to figure out an SEO strategy, and it’s a service that we should probably expect to have to pay for at some point.

All of the SEO tools were at one time free. Eventually everyone finds a way to monetize the use of everything. Why not the tool that lets us discover specific words?

Of course, there are ways of figuring out the best keywords without paying Google to do it for you. But it does take a lot more work, resources and rationale.

Start with keyword research and working smarter, not harder.

Don’t make these mistakes when choosing the keywords to go after:

  • Too broad
  • Too much competition
  • Not enough traffic
  • Only one at a time
  • Words that don’t create a lead

Instead of going for a broad keyword or one phrase over and over, go for literally hundreds of long-tail ones instead — precisely what the ActiveRain leaders tell you.

Yes, it really works. Instead of a keyword, go for a keyword THEME. It’s much easier and will get you ranked faster for a variety of keyword themes rather than that big one you’ve been vying for.

The more specifically you define your theme, the easier it is to rank.

You know your topic is “real estate.” But instead of trying to rank for something general like “Michigan real estate,” go for something specific like “Lake view homes in Lake Orion Michigan.”

Use these four qualifiers for determining your best keyword themes.

  • Time and date – 2014, January, afternoon
  • Price and quality – affordable, best, most desirable
  • Intent – buy, sell, invest
  • Location – community, neighborhood, outdoors

Use sources that can help you determine keywords and themes, including WordStreamKeyword SpySpyFu, Bing Keyword Tool and Übersuggest.

Once you have a good load of keywords, terms, phrases and themes to build on, surround your blog or website with these. If more than 50 percent of your website or blog talks about topics that do not bring you leads, you are not telling Google what the majority of your business is about. At least 70 percent of your website should be built around your keywords, and more if you can.

It’s time to get serious about your keywords, themes and topics. Don’t overoptimize, but don’t underutilize your keywords either. If they are not prevalent in your pages and posts, you probably won’t rank for them.

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