The wise choice of the right keywords you will optimize for is the
first and crucial step to a successful SEO campaign. If you fail on
this very first step, the road ahead is very bumpy and most likely
you will only waste your (or your client's) money and time. There are
many ways to determine which keywords to optimize for and usually the
final list of them is made after a careful analysis of what the
online population is searching for, which keywords have your
competitors chosen and above all - which are the keywords that
you feel describe your site best. All of this is great and certainly
this is the way to go but if you want to increase your chances of
success, additional research is never too much, especially when its
results will save you the shots in the dark.
Dreaming High - Shooting the Top-Notch Keywords?
After you have made a long and detailed list of all the lucrative
keywords that are searched by tens of thousands a day, do not hurry
yet. It is great that you have chosen popular keywords but it would
be even greater if you have chosen keywords for which top positioning
is achievable with reasonable effort. If you have many competitors
for the keywords you have chosen, chances are, no matter how hard you
try, that you will hardly be able to overtake them and place your
site amongst the top ten results. And as every SEO knows, if you
can't be on the first page (or on the second and in the worst case on
the third one) of the organic search results, you'd better think
again if the potential gain from optimization for those particular
words is worth the effort. It is true that sometimes even sites that
are after the first 50 results get decent traffic from search engines
but it is certain that you can't count on that. And even if you
somehow manage to get to the top, do you have any idea what it will
take to keep the good results?
You can feel discouraged that all lucrative keywords are already
occupied but it is too early to give up. Low-volume search keywords
can be as lucrative as the high-volume ones and their main advantage
is that you will have less competition.
The SEO experts from Blackwood Productions confirm that it is possible with less effort
and within budget to achieve much better results with low-volume search keywords than if you targeted the high-volume search ones.
In order to do this, you need to make an estimate about how difficult it would be to rank well for a particular keyword.
Get Down to Earth
The best way to estimate how difficult it would be to rank well
for a particular keyword is by using the appropriate tools. If you
search the Web, you will see several keyword difficulty tools. Choose
a couple of them, for instance Seochat's
Keyword Difficulty Tool, Cached's
Keyword Difficulty Tool and Seomoz's
Keyword Difficulty Tool and off we go. The idea behind choosing
multiple tools is not that you have so much free time that you need
to find a way to waste it. If you choose only one tool, you will
finish your research faster but having in mind the different results
that each tool gives, you'd better double check before you start the
optimization itself. The Seomoz's tool is a kind of complicated and
if you want to use it you need to make several registrations but it
is worth the trouble (and the patience - while you wait for the
results to be calculated).
You may also want to check for several keywords or keyword
phrases. You will be surprised to see how different the estimated
difficulty for similar keywords is! For instance, if you are
optimizing a financial site, which deals mainly with credits and
loans, and some of your keywords are finance, money, credit, loan,
and mortgage, running a check with the seochat's Keyword
Difficulty Tool produces results like these (the percentages are
rounded but you get the idea): finance - 89%, money -
76% credit - 74% loan - 66% mortgage - 65%.
It seems that the keyword finance is very tough and since your
site is targeted at credits and loans and not on stock exchange or
insurance, which are also branches of finance, there is no need to
cry over the fact that it is very difficult to compete for the
The results were similar with the second tool, though it does not
give percentages but uses a scale starting from Very Easy to Very
Difficult. I did not check all the results with the third tool,
because it seems that the seomoz report on keyword difficulty for a
particular word needs ages to be compiled but the results were
similar, so it becomes clear that it is more feasible to optimize for
mortgage and loan, rather than for the broader term finance.
You may want to bookmark some of these tools for future use as
well. They will be very useful to monitor possible changes on the
keyword difficulty landscape. After you have optimized your site for
the keywords you have selected, occasionally check again the
difficulty of the keywords you are already optimizing for because the
percentages are changing over time and if you discover that the
competition for your keywords has increased, make some more efforts
to retain the gained positions.