Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Keyword strategy basics: Where to start in your SEO Strategy

Lots of people rush into Tags, URL’s and code optimizing without realizing that the first step in any SEO strategy will probably have nothing to do with that. Starting to correct code, optimize tags, URL’s and metatags without carefully having planned a coherent “Keyword Strategy” beforehand is like throwing all your soldiers into a battlefield without analyzing the terrain, the enemy, your weapons and your tactics.

Your “Keyword strategy means in other words which are the keywords that you choose to position your website with. To create an efficient and effective keyword strategy, 4 main aspects need to be considered:

- Keyword Search volume: The search volume of a given keyword determines the total potential traffic that this keyword can drive to your website. To give an example, the monthly volume of searches in Google of the keyword “MBA” is 5’000,000 while the volume of searches of the keyword “executive MBA” is just 135,000. If you’d manage to get top listings for the keyword “MBA” you would be in a very good position to capture a big slice of the traffic generated by these 5’000,000 searches, much more than if you manage to get first position with the keyword “135,000” where your potential visits are just 135,000. If you have an Adwords Account, you can use the “Keyword Tool” to estimate monthly traffic of a given keyword you’re analyzing. Another useful tool you can use to find relations of search volume and trends to help you decide which keywords to choose in your keyword strategy is Google Trends (www.google.com/trends)

- Keyword relevance: It’s not just the volume of searches what matters but also how relevant it is to your website. Let’s say you could hire the best SEO consultant in the world and he/she would manage to get you number one ranking for the most searched keyword in Internet. Is that something you really want (driving tons of irrelevant traffic to your site)? Would the visits that having first position for this keyword really convert in sales for your business? Of course not. This is an extreme example but the reasoning still applies: If you sell “Peruvian Gold Jewelry” Would you choose to position your site with the keyword “Jewelry”? Maybe not a good idea since your website only sells Peruvian Jewelry. Try to position your site with a keyword that is too general, like “Jewelry” in our example and you’ll end up receiving thousands Low quality visits, meaning by low quality visits that don’t end up in conversions and have a high bounce rate.

- Competition for the keyword: Not only the search volume and relevance of the keyword are important in which keywords to choose but also the competition you’ll find for it makes a big difference. If you want to be top ranked for the keyword “tailor made Bolivian kitchen appliances” it will be very easy; guess how many companies exist in this industry and how many websites would try to compete for this keyword. Compare that to trying to compete for position number one in “Free Downloads”, where tens of thousands of websites worldwide are trying daily to get ranked on first page. It’s not the same to try to get number one rank for a keyword with only 4 companies competing that number one rank for a keyword with 1 million sites competing… Remember, regardless of how many companies compete for top positions, Google’s first page of results will always have only 10 available spots to show.

- “Goal Conversion” keyword: You can use Google’s Goal Conversion tracking code to actually measure with which keywords your customers are buying from your store. For example, if you had 12 articles sold last month, this tracking system can tell you with which keywords each of these 12 customers who bought from you got to your website. This information should also be used to decide with which keywords you want to position your website.

Your keyword strategy consists in balancing these four criteria to choose wisely with which keywords you want to position your site. Remember:

· Search volume: Don’t go for too general keywords but when narrowing them down, always look that the keyword you choose has monthly volume of searches that is worth the effort.

· Relevance: Other things being equal, always try to go for keywords closely related to what you actually sell. Don’t try to position your site with words that are somehow related, or more or less close. Go for what you sell.

· Competition: Very competitive keywords will require a much bigger and continuous effort. Think on your available resources and in the importance of the keyword for your business before deciding to go for a keyword with lots of competition.

· Goal Conversion: Always use this data to decide with which keywords you need to position your site. At the end, this is the only 100% sure way to measure if a keyword is generating sales or achieving your website’s goals.

Copyright MBA Internet Marketing Manager

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