Identity will be giving you a series of short lessons to help you with getting better results in search engines. Currently Google has over 200 algorithms that are used to determine how your site will rank. No one knows the details of these algorithms work, but with industry testing and analysis we can use certain techniques that will help with your website ranking. There are no shortcuts (that are safe to use) or magic tricks. The closer you follow and implement the guide the better your site will perform.
Lesson One: Keyword Research and Competitor Analysis
Finding the right keywords is the foundation to your campaign.
Here is an outline of the steps you should follow for keyword research:
- Start with a brainstorming session to list all possible words and phrases that people would use to find what you have to offer. Remember to put yourself in the mindset of the potential customer.
- Do the necessary research to continue building your list.
- Research your competitors and see what keywords they are using.
- Look at your web stats and logs and pull words and phrases from there (this is a great source of info, you can find the words that people are already using to find you and enhance your rankings on those words so you can get even more traffic).
- If you have a search feature on your site, look at the logs and see what people are searching for within your site once they get there.
- Take the large master list you have come up with and use a keyword tool to determine how much traffic there is and how competitive the words/phrases are. Remember you can’t live and die by this information, it only acts as a guide for you. (Google’s Keyword Tool https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal is useful, but there are others - http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com )
- Take your list and break it into segments. You want some “low hanging fruit”– which means keywords that may be longer phrases with less traffic. These words will be easy to rank for fairly quickly so you can use those as your starting point to drive some quick traffic to the site. The second segment of your list should be words that are more competitive and have more traffic and will take longer to get rankings for. You will be glad you selected keywords from each segment because you will be getting traffic from the low hanging fruit while you are waiting for the more competitive phrases to kick in. Because #4 is so vitally important, let’s break that down a little further. If your keywords are too generic and not targeted it will take a long time to get rankings and the traffic likely won’t convert as well. If you use keywords that are way too specific you won’t get enough traffic. The solution? Use a 3 tier approach.
- Shorter phrases and single words
- Generic to your industry
- Lots of traffic
- Lower conversions
- Slightly shorter phrases
- Higher traffic numbers
- Phrases are still focused on what you offer
Over Specific: The Long Tail
- Longer and more targeted phrases
- Traffic numbers are smaller
- People are further along in the buying process so conversion rates are
The thought process behind “long tail keywords” is that the more detail someone types in, the more they know exactly what they want and the further along they are in the “buying” process.
For example if someone types “blue plates” they could want to buy them or they could want info or they could want to see pics – who knows. But if someone types in “Phatmacus Blue dinner plates for 8” then they know exactly what they want and are more likely to buy. Typically the longer the phrase, the less traffic there is but the more targeted it is, so it is likely to convert higher.
A solid SEO strategy should definitely implement some long tail because that allows you to get rankings quicker (there is usually less competition on long tail keywords) and it allows the conversion rate to be higher. You get the benefit from the long tail while you are waiting for your more competitive phrases to get ranked and kick in. Most people are continually adding new long tail phrases and find that when they add them up, in total the long tail phrases end up becoming a large part of your traffic.
Here are some examples:
- Broad: Generic and competitive keywords:
- Blue plates
- Dinner plate
- Focused: Less generic, and less competitive:
- Buy dinner plates
- Set of dinner plates
- Cost of dinner plates
- Over Specific: Long tail phrases:
- Phatmacus plates for 8 set
- Phatmacus Ocean Breeze dinner plate set
- Buy dinner place settings
- Replacement dinner plates for sale
Another thing to consider is the searchers intent. Let’s look at this scenario to understand a little more.
“buy MCG lip gloss ” – the searcher is looking to buy online
“MCG lip gloss prices” – they are comparing prices and probably trying to decide if they will buy
“MCG lip gloss” – they are interested in a specific brand
“lip gloss” – interested in a type of product
You want to capture leads at the different phases, but understand you will convert more at the top level where they are further along in the buying process. Your SEO strategy should include keywords from each of those “tiers” above. Don’t forget you should also Google your keywords and check out what sites come up on top. Check out what keywords they are using – you may get some ideas.