I’ve been managing multiple SEO campaigns (mostly Philadelphia area based) recently because clients have asked, and I do it well, and in my observations of the practice, I have a word of advice: Get Real.
I say that because the goal of search engine optimization is to drive increased unbranded (terms that do not mention your company name) quality traffic to your website that converts into a desired action; nothing more; nothing less. That’s my goal with clients. It’s why you always have to track and optimize your efforts, think about what keywords you are optimized for, and what keywords you SHOULD be optimized for. It’s time to get real with this task, but not over-think it.
When I first assess a client’s strategy, I first have to really understand what the client does, what the goal of the website is, and what the conversion goals are. Following up on my recent post on keyword research, it’s important to match the search intent of your desired audience with your keywords and website content. Examples:
- Query type: Research
- Search query “information on how to __________”
- Website theme: Provide information, articles, and advice; provide educational content
- Website goal: Content-heavy with the goal to drive traffic and sell advertising on your site, bait audiences to a newsletter or a product (or affiliate)
- Query type: Service or business solutions
- Search query “looking for companies that do __________”
- Website theme: Promotional with benefit content; provide evidence of your services
- Website goal: Provide a business case that solves problems; and persuade audiences to convert as an inquiry
- Query type: Purchase
- Search query “I need a ________”
- Website theme: Showcase your products; provide content that reassures audiences of your quality, value, and expertise
- Website goal: Generate quotes or purchases, and minimize cart abandonment
The proper list of keywords you need all must follow these criteria:
- Align with what you do as a company. The words you identify for 1st page rankings must be aligned with your services and website goals. As you review your keywords, simply ask yourself- “why would a prospect click my listing for that keyword?” and “will the destination URL on my website align with that query in order to optimize conversions?
Get Real statement: It’s not what you rank for (because many terms may be irrelevant or are rarely searched), or how many terms you rank for, but are you ranked for the appropriate terms that would generate quality clicks to your website (and low bounce rates).
- Have decent search traffic. You could have a great product or service, but SEO doesn’t work if no one is searching for it or you choose the wrong keywords. This is where you do a comprehensive keyword assessment in order to identify what terms people use that need you. If your goal is to increase traffic, and your current website traffic is flat, then we need to re-think the terms you currently optimize for, and that means re-doing some of your website content.
Get Real statement: Stop thinking about what you do or what your content says you do if there are limited search queries for the keywords you are currently optimized for. Step out of the box and refocus your efforts and content on what prospects DO search for. Example- if you are a financial firm, and you provide wealth management services, and “wealth management services” has low traffic, you’ll need to re-optimize your content strategy if you get more and better quality traffic for “retirement planning services”
Caveat: If you are in a specialized business or have unique services with less competition, terms with low traffic counts may be appropriate if the conversion rate for those terms are proven profitable.
- Moderately or less competitive. Evaluating competitive rankings via Google’s keyword tools or 3rd party tools like SEOMoz, SEMRush and others can certainly give you guidance on how competitive your chosen keywords are and the opportunity to be on Google’s first page. Besides the tools, Google your keywords yourself, review the competition, and make note on how to differentiate yourself when your SEO firm writes meta titles and descriptions. If your keyword, although it may have high search volume, shows to be heavily competitive, you’ll have to invest in lots of time, funds, content, and resources to achieve a high ranking. This is why long-tail terms and geographic terms are much more achievable to achieve that 1st page rank; less competitive.
Get Real statement: Choosing the right keywords is an art and a science. Use tools and analytics to determine the traffic and the competition, and then be smart about the selection. Maybe instead of “Accounting software small business” you choose “Accounting software for law firms” if there’s decent monthly traffic for that term, and it’s not as competitive.
Typically we look at a ratio, comparing how many web sites include the keyword, and how many searches are done for that keyword. You have a better chance at 1st page ranking with a high ratio percentage. Formula:
Google searches per day / competition (websites that include your keyword term) = search ratio
So here’s an example for a title insurance company located in Pennsylvania.
|mortgage title insurance||
|title insurance companies||
|title insurance pa||
“Mortgage title insurance” is too broad. Even though there’s a fair amount of monthly traffic, the searches per day for just that term is very low, so it’s not worth optimizing for that phrase.
“Title insurance companies” is being indexed at a higher level according to Google (more website competition), but it also is a popular search term. The ratio is .18%. I usually eyeball a ratio of over .10% as a target keyword for clients. This is a good term to optimize for if I were a national company.
“Title insurance pa” is an ideal term to be optimized for, since the company is in Pennsylvania. The ratio is .53% which is really strong. Although the searches per day may be light, it can be assumed that all of those searches come from Pennsylvania, meaning traffic is targeted, and conversion rate would be positive.
Get Real statement: Choosing keywords to rank for on Google’s 1st page has to be strategic; I’ll say it again- it’s not about current rankings; it’s not about high searched terms; it’s about terms most likely to bring you engaged traffic and increased conversions.
In summary, proper SEO efforts work best when you have a keyword and website goal strategy working together. The process of optimizing website copy, and the art/science of back linking and guest blogging, means nothing if your website isn’t optimized for conversion. Choosing the right keywords, by matching your products and services with the keywords most likely to drive traffic by obtaining 1st page position, is what an SEO firm is supposed to do for you. Are they?