Your quickest and easiest route to more traffic and response with search engine optimization is to build on your current success. The keywords that already bring response are your low-hanging fruit and getting more results from them is childâ€™s play. Mark Nunney explains the what, why and how of these mixed metaphors.
Before we continue, you need to know these methods only work if you already have some organic search engine traffic.
How to find your target keywords
Here's a really, really, really easy way to find the best keywords to target:
1) Look at the (unpaid) keyword reports on your siteâ€™s traffic analysis software (eg, Google Analytics).
2) Target the keywords your site is most successful for.
3) â€¦er, thatâ€™s it.
You can target the same keywords with PPC too.
To work at the scale required for most sites to maximize a profit, make sure you target keyword niches and not single keywords.
With your target keywords chosen, here are three ways of easily getting more results from themâ€¦
1) Ranking higher on Google (for the same keywords)
Any increase in ranking on a Google search results page will increase your traffic. And to get from 9th to 8th or 3rd to 2nd (for example) is easier than getting results from a starting position of no ranking at all (as you must with â€˜newâ€™ keywords you have no traffic for).
You might rank 3rd on Google for a keyword. If you can get to rank 1st then you should quadruple traffic for that keyword. Eg, a website (these are real figures) ranks 3rd for corporate culture and it brought 729 visits last month. See image from a Google Analytics report showing this:
If that site can move up to the top slot (no.1 on Google) for corporate culture then it should get nearly 3,000 visits a month for that single keyword.
2) Target down the long tail
Target other keywords containing your target keywords (their keyword niches).
For example, that same website gets 1,609 visits a month from 453 different (single) keywords containing corporate culture, ie, from the corporate culture keyword niche. See image from a Google Analytics report showing those results (note how the report says I've "filtered" the results - we'll come back to this):
corporate culture niche
Hereâ€™s the top 10 of those 453 keywords (to get this report I again used the filter on the keywords report to show only keywords containing corporate culture):
top 10 corporate culture
The site can easily get more success from thousands more keywords in the corporate culture keyword niche by:
Using the keyword on appropriate pages. Eg, we can see there are searches with the pattern ['company name' & corporate culture,] eg, boeing corporate culture. (Research with Wordtrackerâ€™s Keywords Tool will reveal more patterns like this). So if the site has pages that get results for company names (and it does) then I just have to add corporate culture to those pages and Iâ€™ll likely get results. (This tactic has been used on this site bring over 1,000 visits a day).
Write a new page about corporate culture. You might get ideas for such pages by entering corporate culture into Wordtrackerâ€™s Keywords Tool. This ensures the new content is about subjects that are being searched for.
Targeting other keywords down the long tail of the keywords (ie, targeting keyword niches) works and is easy because:
The factors that made your site do well for your already-successful keywords, eg, corporate culture, will help your site for other keywords that include them, eg, boeing corporate culture
There is usually less competition for those long tail keywords. So that â€˜helpâ€™ is usually enough to get results. This principle is behind the mantra:
target the head, exploit the tail.
The long tail is almost infinitely long.
3) Target up the long tail
As sure as every keyword has its own long tail (a keyword niche) it is part of another long tail.
For example, japanese corporate culture both has a long tail (a keyword niche) of keywords containing japanese corporate culture and is itself part of the long tail of keywords containing corporate culture.
So when our example site finds success for the keyword japanese corporate culture, it can both work down the japanese corporate culture tail and up the corporate culture tail.
For this tactic, we can reverse our mantra to:
exploit the tail, target the head.
Targeting â€˜up the tailâ€™ is harder as such keywords are usually more popular and competitive. But again you are given a head start (pun intended) against the competition by the same factors that made your tail keyword successful. For example, an inbound link containing the keyword japanese corporate culture will help you be successful for corporate culture (and vice versa).
Always try to make sure you are targeting â€˜upâ€™ as well as â€˜down the tailâ€™.
A typical tactic would be to:
Use a category page to target a competitive head keyword, eg, corporate culture. Note that the focus may be on a single keyword (the head) but the goal is the whole body and the tail (the keyword niche).
Use pages in that category (linked to from the category page of course) to target its long tail keywordsâ€™ niches, eg, japanese corporate culture.
The head, the long tail and keyword niche are all relative terms
The concepts of the head, the tail and keyword niches are always relative to your perspective and the context in which they are used.
When talking about 'all searches on the internet', head keywords are the most searched for - the likes of Yahoo, Google and the names of celebrities of the day (as I write, kate gosselin hairstyle is popular!) See more in Wordtrackerâ€™s top keywords reports.
Down your long tail
For your site, your head keywords are those that bring the most traffic.
Look at any one keyword on your site, eg, corporate culture, and its keyword niche is all keywords containing it. For the corporate culture keyword niche that will include japanese corporate culture.
And of course japanese corporate culture has its own keyword niche.
Up your long tail
If our perspective is the keyword corporate culture we can look up the long tail (or we might say 'up the body' as it's almost the same thing) of the corporate and culture keyword niches which corporate culture is itself a part of.
It's all relative.
Write it and they will come
You canâ€™t possibly specifically optimize for thousands of long tail keywords. You canâ€™t even even look at them on a list because existing lists are so long; and many of the tailâ€™s keywords have not yet been thought of or searched with (the long tail never stops growing).
But use these keyword research techniques to make sure youâ€™re pointing in the right direction (targeting the right keyword niches) and then write (or commission or encourage users to write). Ranking success, visitors and response will come. Write it and they will come.
Why it works
Weâ€™ve seen that itâ€™s possible to get more results by targeting the keywords you are already successful for.
Thatâ€™s good, but why these keywords rather than others?
You can get results from other keywords too â€“ some may be searched with more and have less competition. So why are your currently successful keywords better for your site?
First, you donâ€™t know for sure that other keywords will deliver response to your site. When targeting keywords you already get results for, you can make sure they are keywords that deliver response.
Thatâ€™s very good, but it gets better because you can target your most responsive keywords.
And your most responsive keywords might be two, three, five or even ten times as responsive as others.
Thatâ€™s outstanding, but the best bit is yet to come.
So far you know:
* â€¦ itâ€™s always possible to get more traffic from a keyword (and keyword niche) youâ€™re already successful for â€¦
* â€¦ and you can get response from these keywords (they already deliver that â€“ itâ€™s proven, not guesswork) â€¦
* â€¦ but (this is the bit I love) you also know that you can beat the competition on Google for these keywords.
You know you can beat the competition because you already are beating the competition enough to get at least some traffic. So do just a little bit more work and youâ€™ll get more traffic and response.
Iâ€™d say â€˜incredibleâ€™ (which means â€˜beyond beliefâ€™) but whatâ€™s incredible is that itâ€™s not the first lesson in SEO school. If it was then you would be doing it already.
If you are doing it already then give yourself a big smile but donâ€™t rest. Donâ€™t put your feet up because the competition is always chasing you and I just told them what to do. Sorry about that. But whilst they catch up you can learn how to scale up your SEO with keyword niches and Wordtrackerâ€™s new Strategizer tool.
Dig deep and you will find gold
Once you understand how easy SEO can be (when targeting the keywords you are already successful for) you still need to prioritize because the chances are your site is successful for thousands of keywords.
You might simply go to your site analytics software (eg, Google Analytics) and sort your keyword reports by your chosen response metric (perhaps bounce rate, visits or ecommerce conversion rates).
This will show your most responsive keywords. And the chances are youâ€™ll see amazing response rates. 100% conversion rates are common for some keywords (even higher but letâ€™s not go there now). Nice, but â€¦
You look again and see these 100% response keywords only have one visit.
And you donâ€™t know how popular the keyword is? Does it get searched with often? Off to Wordtracker Keywords Tool to find out. Itâ€™s probably not used much (most arenâ€™t) â€¦ (mmm this is starting to take some time isn't it? Keep reading - help is coming).
Then you remember that single keywords are for losers because they donâ€™t bring enough traffic and response. And your Google Analytics keyword report is showing you results for single keywords. You want to see results for keyword niches.
What about the filter on Google Analytics keywords reports? Yes that can work a treat (up to the point at which you need sleep because it takes so long). If you have plenty of time, hereâ€™s how to use it:
Use the advanced filter to see, say, keywords bringing more than 200 visits.
Then sort those results by your chosen response metric
For each promising keyword you now want keyword niche results. And youâ€™re going to have to do each one manually (this bit sucks) â€¦
Put the keyword into the filter to get keyword niche results (summarized at the top each report).
Record the results in a spreadsheet.
Repeat for other high-response keywords.
Now enter the keywords into the Wordtracker Keywords Tool to get estimates of each keyword niche size. Add results to your spreadsheet.
Keep digging and you will find gold â€“ your most responsive keyword niches. And youâ€™ll know how popular each keyword niche is so you can plan an appropriate amount of work for each one.
This manual method works. Iâ€™ve used it for years as a professional SEO and Iâ€™ve taught it in training sessions and some articles on this site (see The SEO proâ€™s secret path). But it really does take a long time to use it thoroughly.
A site with 100,000 visits a month might get results from 50,000 different keywords. You could die before youâ€™ve manually reported on each of those keyword niches. Gold digging was never really going to be easy though, was it?
Actually it is. Because with Wordtracker have built Strategizer for you. Built to my exact specifications, Strategizer automates the above process I've successfully used as a professional SEO.
With Wordtracker's Strategizer, in a few minutes you can have a report for your site that shows you:
Your top 2,000 keyword niches (your keyword reports are imported from Google Analytics and converted from single keyword to keyword niche reports).
Your most responsive keyword niches (so youâ€™re working at scale).
The size of each of those keyword niches, ie, how many searches are made (this data is imported from Google).
Your market share for each keyword niche.
Advice on what work to do to target each keyword niche for both SEO and PPC.
One-click access to historical seasonal trend reports from Google Insights.
Hereâ€™s an example of a Strategizer report for that business management site we've been using as an example:
The keywords listed are reports for keyword niches.
The report is sorted by response rate (highlighted in blue) so we can see the site's most responsive keyword niches.
The niche size column shows me Google's estimates of how many searches were made with these keywords.
With a click I've chosen to target those keyword niches highlighted in red (Strategizer will save those for me).