SEO is an ever changing game that requires constant vigilance. Nonetheless, there are aspects of SEO that change very little throughout time.
In these posts I will outline the steps I personally take to make sure my sites, as well as my client’s sites, stay on the top of search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
The Blueprint for SEO
Part 1: Keywords
Everything starts with keywords. Well, it’s better to say that everything with SEO starts with keyword research. I use a variety of tools to accomplish this. The most prominent tool I use is provided for free by Google and I recommend that everyone doing SEO utilize it. Here’s a link to it.
The Google Keyword Tool will generate variations of any keyword(s) that you give it. This is incredibly beneficial in many ways.
First and foremost, it gives you a competitiveness ranking for each keyword, or keyword phrase, that it generates. Keywords that have low competitiveness are obviously the easy ones to go after, but equally obvious are the “money keywords” that are your main focus.
For example, if you are a pizzeria in New York City, your main money keywords are likely to be “pizza new york” or “Manhatten Pizza”. But there are tons of opportunities there! Why not optimize your SEO for those low competition keywords and bring in additional traffic? Don’t be shy to look for keywords like “best pizza in new york” or “NYC Pizza”.
The important part of using the free google keyword tool is that you must use it in different ways because you will get different results. Start out by typing in a website address and a keyword and then export those results to Excel (or whatever spreadsheet program you feel comfortable with).
Next, try inserting a longer keyword phrase, also called long-tail keywords, into the tool and omit the website address. Export that to excel as well. From there you can merge the two excel files and start sorting and analyzing.
What you are looking for is a high ratio of search volume over competition. The larger the difference, the better. Use the great Excel sort feature for search volume and then start analyzing.
To analyze the keyword list in excel you must have intimate knowledge about your client’s services. Does it make sense to delete “new york city pizza sucks”? Probably yes. Does it make sense to delete “New York City pizza is da bomb”. Maybe not? Would you ever delete “pizza by the slice in new york”? No. (well, if you don’t sell pizza by the slice then of course you would delete it)
The critical thing to know about long-tail keywords is that you must look at the traffic values in aggregate. This means that you can add up the traffic values of all of your long-tail, low competition keywords and arrive at a total that is close to what you can expect from your top “money maker” keyword.
This is an under-utilized aspect of keyword research and deployment, but mark my words, it will be the wave of the future. As people get more savvy with computers and emerging technology, the search engines will inevitably keep up and find new ways to help people find exactly what they are looking for in the shortest amount of time possible. As long as there is search, there will always be ways to tailor your website content (keywords!) to match the paradigm.
This article has only touched on one aspect of SEO, but stay tuned for the rest of the series on SEO Blueprints.