SEO Part 2

SEO - posted on 07/21/2011

Determining Competition

Once you have identified possible additions to your search phrase list, you must research further to determine if there is a good chance you will achieve your prized top search engine ranking or if the competition for that phrase is already saturated. While it can be tempting to target only search phrases that are very popular and searched hundreds of thousands of times in a single month, you must also consider the likelihood of you being able to obtain a ranking higher enough to capitalize on all of that great traffic. Many, many search terms are so saturated by competitors that it would be highly unlikely that you would achieve a high enough ranking to reward your efforts. Therefore, it is often worthwhile considering those search phrases that may not have quite the same level searches each month, but likewise do not have as many websites targeting that term.

WordTracker’s KEI (keyword effectiveness index) allows it’s users to analyze their chosen search phrases to determine the level of competition for that phrase. WordTracker has a great explanation on their website as to how to use this index, but in summary it provides a numerical scale for identifying the popularity of a keyword compared to the number of competitors targeting that phrase.

For those of you on a strict budget and opting to use Overture for keyword research, there is an alternative answer. Enter each identified search phrase at Google, using quotations around the phrase (e.g. “discount computers”). Google will then display the search results for all pages that target that phrase exactly as entered. View the top right, blue navigation bar and you will see the number of results Google matched. This number represents the total number of web pages that Google has identified as targeting that exact search phrase. This number represents your competition or your very own KEI. Make a note of this number for each of your identified search phrases and pretty soon you will be able to see which of your search phrases have the most competition and which have less competitors and therefore a better chance of obtaining top ranking.

Selecting Your Keywords

By now, you should have an expanded list of search phrases to target, taken from either Overture or WordTracker. In addition, you should also have a good idea as to the competition for each of those keywords, whether you used the KEI or Google format. Now is the time to start selecting the search phrases that will form the foundation for a successful SEO campaign. Ok, deep breath, we’re almost there.

When selecting the keywords to target, there are many factors you must take into consideration. You will no doubt have your own unique considerations, but you must also take into account the following:

  • Is the search phrase relevant to your website and the page that you are optimizing?
  • Is there a page within your website that would be particularly suitable for targeting the selected search phrase?
  • How many other websites/web pages would you be competing against?
  • Do you offer competitive pricing for the product or service that relates to the keyword?
  • Will top search engine ranking for the search phrase generate enough revenue for your company?

Arranging Keywords into Themes

Once you have asked yourself the above questions, it will become easy to narrow down your list to the main search phrases that you wish to target. When doing so, remember that you should not try and target every selected search term on your index page. Your index page is the most important page of your website and likely to have the best positioning on the search engines, therefore choose 5-10 search phrases to target here and ensure that they are all closely related. Trying to target “desktop computers” and “dvd players” on your index page will get you top rankings for neither. Instead, identify the pages within your website that target those particular keywords and use those instead. The key to selecting keywords to target for each page is to think of “themes”. Each page should ideally target just one theme. This will assist you in making sure that the targeted page is relevant to the selected search phrase. In turn, this will not only increase your chances of obtaining top rankings, but also increase your customer sales conversions by bringing the visitor to the most relevant page.

In summary

When researching search phrases and targeting keywords for your SEO campaign, it is important to follow the steps above. Research your industry, talk to your potential customers and make use of the themes within your website. In addition, consider these final tips:

  • Determine the intent of the visitor Thoroughly research all search terms to ensure that the searcher intended to find your product or service. E.g. reconsider targeting the keyword “DVD” if you store only sells blank DVD discs, the chances are the searcher intended to find DVD movies rather than blank media.
  • Don’t always rely on the numbers Both Overture and WordTracker use historical date when displaying search phrase frequencies and neither archive more than two months back. Therefore you must know your industry and account for any seasonal or other trends. E.g. the search phrase “red roses” will be more popular for Valentines than at Christmas.
  • Look for opportunities Identify the search phrases that have been untapped by your competitors. Some search terms may have slightly fewer searches, but may have dramatically fewer competitors.
  • Target the right pages This cannot be stressed enough. Do not try and target every keyword on every page. Identify themes within your website and group relevant search phrases around those pages. You will see much better results

I hope you have found the above useful. This series is designed to help the beginner, but I hope a few experienced SEO marketers will find something fresh to consider. In the next installment of this series, we will look at the use of Meta Tags. These once champions of SEO have recently taken a battering, but are still extremely important for the success of any campaign. We’ll look at how they are used, how to construct them and why they can help achieve top search engine rankings. In the meantime, you should have enough information to assist you in your search phrase research and build the foundation for a successful search engine optimization campaign.