Are You Obsessing About Your Search Engine Rankings?
I am writing this post because I see so many small businesses who obsess about the wrong things in SEO and often end up pouring their entire link building budgets into 1-2 ‘Head Keyword Terms’ or as I like to call them ‘EGO’ terms. They could do so much better if they understood the majority of their website’s traffic comes from the long tail keyword searches. For those people reading this who may not know the difference between a long-tail keyword vs a short term keywords, see these examples below.
Short-Term Keyword Examples (Head Terms):
- Immigration Lawyer
- Junk Removal
- Merchant Account
Long Tail Keyword Examples:
- H1B Immigration Lawyer
- US Immigration Lawyer in Toronto
- Sofa Garbage Removal Toronto
- Junk Removal Company in Scarborough
- Canadian Merchant Account Services
- Wireless Point-of-Sale Terminal
Most Websites Search Engine Traffic Comes From The Long Tailed
I’ve managed 100′s of websites now and I feel it’s safe to say, 75% of the traffic comes from the long tail and other 25% comes from the head terms. On average most searches averagely contain 3.5 words. Ideally, it’s best to focus on keywords in length between 3-5 words length because they are a hell of lot less competitive then keyword phrases with 1-2 keywords (especially if the keyword term has commercial intent and/or search volume). Those 1-2 keyword searches are the ‘obvious keywords’ that all your competitors are focused on and they are often so competitive that you can end up using your entire link building budget every month to compete on those terms. Be UN-obvious and focus on the keyword phrases your competitors are NOT paying attention to. Bring a gun to a knife fight. This is a much savvier approach to SEO.
Best Practices to Search Engine Marketing
Once you’ve created a website that is proven to convert, the next best search engine marketing decision is to focus on less competitive keywords that require little or no links to rank well. Now be smart about it, don’t just randomly select any old long tailed keywords. Pick ones that show up in Google Suggest, Google Related Terms and ideally show some search volume and the of course do some competitive analysis to make sure your competitors are not (or doing little) link building for that keyword phrase. Then create optimized pages for each of those target keywords. You can never create too many pages! This is why content creation should be a high priority to your SEO strategy. Google ranks and indexes ‘web pages’ and not ‘websites’. The more ‘pages’ you have the more long tail keyword opportunities you have.
At SBOC, we usually try to focus on half dozen long tail keyword phrases to target per month with backlinking, instead of 1-2 head terms. And because we are focused on the long-tail keywords we usually can accomplish those targets goals in 30 days, as opposed to focusing on a head keyword term that may take 3, 4, 6 months or more. We also try to get most clients on a content creation strategy that produces 20-30 new pages every month (and that is NOT too many).
As they say – ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ Well, we have a saying at SBOC, ‘A page a day keeps your competitors away.’
Google & The Search Engines Might Just Being Messing With Your Rankings Too, Just For Fun
Bill Slawski at SEObySEA points out a recent Google patent that basics says if they think you are manipulating your SERPs then may randomly hold back your rankings, making it harder for you tell that if the extra links you sent are actually improving your rankings. Yeah, totally messed. I wonder if this related to Google’s Next Penguin Update that Matt was alluded to at SES SF earlier this week (described here).
Looks like Google may be trying to incorporate elements of randomness (both in terms of how rankings will respond to page modifications and/or backlinking), by doing that it will be hard for folks to test what impacts rankings, their studies are very likely to draw incorrect conclusions.
Don’t obsess over ranking 1st if you can increase your conversions through increased website design, content creation, & link building to the long tail. The goal in search engine optimization is to grow traffic and to brand your small business online better, not to waste time and energy trying to rank number 1 for a small number of keywords. This is how you get an amazing ROI on search engine marketing. Focus on marketing your amazing content.