I often get emails asking for SEO quotations. In general they fall into two types. The first type is people asking for SEO packages which are made famous by SEO companies. The second type are the ones who send a set of keywords asking for first page rankings. In this post I’m going to focus on the second type.
When someone sends me a keyword list 99% of the time they are highly competitive keywords. It usually takes few months to rank for competitive keywords and take an equal amount of effort to maintain those rankings.
Targeting competitive keywords is a good thing. That shows ambition and you wont need a SEO specialist to rank for a search term with 10 searches per month. But more often that not you can achieve far better results by targeting less competitive long tail keywords. It’s much easier to rank for those keywords and maintenance cost is also very low. So whenever someone sends me a list of highly competitive keywords I always ask the question, “Do you want rankings or do you want paying customers ?“. Unsurprisingly the answer is always paying customers.
Why the Obsession with Rankings ?
Most business owners have no clue about search patterns and of course the latest changes introduced in search results. Because they’re not aware of search patterns they assume that keywords with highest search volume or general keywords will bring the best results.
I have done few SEO jobs for hotels and it’s amazing how many of them want to rank for search terms like “Hotels in Sri Lanka”. These guys are going against site like TripAdvisor, Bookings.com which have huge authority so which will rank above you for most keywords.
What are Long Tail Keywords ?
A term used to describe less searched for words but whose combined search volumes may outweigh those of the top ten keywords. As a concept, optimizing a website for long tail keywords may prove extremely successful by essentially taking a big piece of a small pie.
A Practical Way to Decide Keywords
So now you know the why it’s not a good idea to target very competitive keywords. So below are few ways you can go about finding relevant but not very competitive keywords for your site.
- Google Keyword Planner – One of the best places to get relevant long tail keyword ideas. I wouldn’t rely too much no the traffic estimates though. You need to have an Adwords account to use this.
- Google Analytics – Now that Google isn’t showing keyword data for logged-in users the effectiveness of this method has gone down. However you can still see some keywords and try to find some long tail matches from those keywords.
- Site search – If you’re using the Google site search you can get an understand of what you’re visitors are looking for and create content to tailor those search requests.
- Related Searches at the bottom – Most of the time when you search for something Google shows you some related searches at the bottom of the search page. This is a good place to get some relevant long tail keyword ideas.
I sincerely hope you consider these tips when you’re looking for an SEO or when you’re preparing a keyword list before consulting a SEO company. In general a good SEO will tell you about these things and work together with you to finalize the set of keywords that brings the best ROI.