Sunday Morning SEO: 3 Factors to Consider in Keyword Research

Filed as Guides on February 15, 2009 12:54 am

Ian had a great question in a comment on my previous post. He asked:

How do you judge the balance between lots of people will be looking for that [popular keyword] against there are lots of results for that [popular keyword]?

Using your example, for “nba all star game 2009″ you’d be one of 500,000 results so how do you decide if that’s a worthwhile keyword to use?

There are couple things to consider when picking keywords to target.

1. Popularity

First, you need to find out how often a keyword is searched by internet users. You can use keyword tools. My favorite ones are SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool and Google AdWords: Keyword Tool.

But don’t just rely on tools. Use common sense too. If there is a popular event or something newsworthy just happened or is about to happen, you can be pretty sure that keywords related to the event or the news will be popular.

2. Competition

I’ll be talking more about competition. It really needs its own post because there are a lot of factors that go into determining the competitiveness of a keyword.

But the main thing to keep in mind is the top 10 results. If your goal is reach the first page, you only have to beat the top 10 pages. Don’t worry about total number of results that Google shows.

Some search terms have a lot of results but the top 10 results are not very strong. On the other hand, some keywords don’t have as many results but the top 10 results will be very hard to beat.

So, with this in mind, evaluate the top 10 results of the keywords you’re interested in. Do those pages and sites seem to be popular? What are their PageRanks? How many backlinks do the domains and pages have?

3. Profit

The profitability of a keyword can be hard to tell. It’s usually not a good idea to guess. Instead, do some tests.

You can get traffic through AdWords to determine the conversion rate of any keyword. Yes, this will cost you money, but it’s better to find out early how profitable a keyword is before you expend resources to rank for that keyword.

If you use AdSense, you can use the Google AdWords: Keyword Tool to get an estimate of the price per click that advertisers are willing to pay.

The Balancing Act

Unless your site has a lot of authority, you’ll always have the balance the popularity of a keyword with its competitiveness. The way Google’s algorithm is setup, the popular keywords are going to be the most competitive ones. Some keywords can take months and even years to rank for. Also, many of the profitable keywords are also very competitive.

I think the best strategy for sites without a lot of authority is to go after long-tail keywords before targeting the more competitive ones. Unless you’re in a very saturated industry, there should be some keywords that you can do well on. These keywords may not send a lot of traffic but if you target enough of them, the traffic adds up.

Here are 3 ideas for finding long-tail keywords.

  • Write a lot of posts targeting different keywords and see which ones do well on the search engines. Then, you can target keywords related to the keywords targeted by the posts that do well.
  • Take popular keywords and add 2-3 words to it since longer keywords are less competitive.
  • Also, you can use software like SEMRush to find out what similar sites like yours are ranking for.  For example, you can find a blog in your industry that has a similar Alexa Rank and PageRank and mine their keywords.

Finally, you still want to rank for the more competitive keywords, so you’ll need to build quality links to your site for an extended period time.

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  1. By Ian posted on February 15, 2009 at 7:46 am
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    Thanks for that response, Dee. I really appreciate it.

    I’m just starting out blogging in a really competitive field – my Nought to Sixty blog is about cars – so it seems like I’m in the worst of both worlds – low authority with lots of competitors.

    Ho hum, long-tail keywords here I come ;)

    Thanks again for the tips.

    Reply

  2. By Chung Bey Luen posted on February 15, 2009 at 8:11 am
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    Very good explaination. I agreed with you, competitive keywords are hard to rank. So I’m also targeting long-tail keywords. It’s very effective and do bring me continuous traffic.

    Reply

  3. By Dee Barizo posted on February 16, 2009 at 11:58 pm
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    Thanks for the positive feedback, Ian and Chung :)

    Reply

  4. By Goran Web posted on March 7, 2009 at 10:19 am
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    There is only 10 placements on Google so it only seems logical to be trying to find long-tail words that work. And its not always about the volume of visits as oppose to the quality. And longer tail words usually convert better. Great post.

    Reply

  5. By Dee Barizo posted on March 7, 2009 at 11:10 am
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    Good point about conversion rates, Goran. Thanks.

    Reply

  6. By mike posted on March 8, 2009 at 12:51 am
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    In addition to post, the free utility synonymbase.com for selection keywords and as similar(wow!) keywords ;)

    Reply

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