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General, SEO strategy and planning, SEO-Search Engine Optimization

Are the hard SEO phrases worth fighting over?

Are your most competitive SEO phrases worth fighting over? How much effort should you put into your main SEO phrases? Maybe they’re highly contested, maybe to the point where the competition doesn’t justify the reward, esp. considering that generic phrases often will drive traffic, but as many of you already know, don’t drive conversions. The smart SEO will think about where he puts his time into a campaign. On most sites, you’re better off focusing on the 2nd tier phrases as I call them that still drive a decent amount of traffic but are usually a lot less competitive.

Some other important consideration to take into account when structuring your SEO efforts

1. For the particular site, how much possible traffic comes from the main phrases, vs. the possible tail words? Is this a niche site with all “head” phrases i.e main phrases, are very broad site, with a huge volume of  “long tail phrases” ?

2. How competitive are the head and tail phrases?

3. How strong a contender is your site? Are you on page 2 with your main phrases, with a 10year old site with hundreds of backlinks? Or is this is brand new site going after really hard phrases, or an old site with little SEO going after a large volume of phrases, or a new site going after a large volume of phrase. Or somewhere in the middle, where they might have a combination of things going on like old site, with very competitive main phrases, yet still a very big volume of tail phrases they could go after.

4. Relative size of campaign- The above three questions address the general shape of the SEO campaign, but is this shape generally big or small? You might have very import main phrases that they need to rank for, and very import tail phrases, and it’s a new site, BUT they’re in such a small market none of the phrases even the main phrases are highly competitive.

5. Another twist to all this is how you spread the SEO out on your site, say you target your top 10 phrases all on the home page, you have 80% of your SEO focused on the home page. Usually what happens is that you find that the home page has the best shot of ranking high so you end up adding keyword after keyword on the home page.
The pros of this is you can your top 10 phrases ranking on the home page in easy to moderately hard phrases. This can work great for really narrow niche sites without too much competition, you’re squeezing as much bang for the buck off the home page. But for most sites which have plenty of great SEO targets, you’re better off in the long run to do deep linking and building up the SEO for each 2nd level info architecture and targeting your 2nd level phrases.  If you try to put all your top executives and mangers on the top floor you’ll be over crowded and actually start diluting the effectiveness of the whole page, and you could end up crossing an invisible line and moving into keyword stuffing beyond a reasonable point. Your middle mangers need space and room to reach their best performance, so should your 2nd level and tail phrases. You give them their own “section” and their own responsibility i.e ranking well for their phrases. BUT if there’s room “upstairs” to promote a middle manager to executive, they will by the very nature of being up there, work harder and do better.

In general you want fill your executive level your first page up, but stop once your at a reasonable limit. There’s only so much room in the page title tag and you don’t’ want to dilute the home page content either.  It takes experince to and good judgment to know when you’ve got a good number of your top phrases targeted on the home page, and when it’s time to stop, each site will be different, some may have 10x top phrases, but they’re not really related phrases they’re not permutations of the same root phrase, and you probably only want to target a few of these on the home page, other sites might have 10x closely related top phrases that you can just structure the page title and body content in a certain specific way so that it reads natural and targets all top 10x phrases.

*Tip, if you see one of your phrases has 5million or more search results and the top sites have lots of age, links, authority, and none of the top 10 search results have an internal page ranking, that should be a good clue to let you know if it’s realistic to target one of your internal pages for the phrase.
Think in terms of percentage of effort for example

Site Example A – Is new site targeting very narrow vertical niche market, competition is low, and the tail is short.

1.In general 80% of effort should be in content generation and 20% in link profile building, as this site will rank no problem in time,  but you need lots of content to cast a wide shallow net. Until you have the site’s content packed full, you shouldn’t put excessive amounts of time into back links, as these content pages could very well rank easily once the site has a decent link profile, but you’ll have little change of ranking for the tail if you don’t have the key phrases anywhere on any of the site’s pages.

2. Target tail phrases, 20% backlinks

3. Make sure to pump the site up with as much high quality content as possible as you’re hunting for prey that is far and few between so you want to cast a wide a net as possible.

4. Target main phrases 80% backlinks

5. If this is for Localized SEO site, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing lots of geo targeting on the content pages. and even building a localized pages, like a coverage map etc. with local targeted info. Look at how sites like buyerzone etc. do it.

All of these factors I have been discussing should be considered when planning the SEO campaign, and picking your keyword targets especially, in some cases you’ll find that the answer is yes and other times no in regards to targeting your most competitive phrases. And most likely the answers will change as the site’s SEO and age of site mature and develop, esp. for sites in competitive markets.

Stijn Amundsen is the Founder and Principle at GlowHat of Scottsdale Arizona. He enjoys sharing his passion for internet marketing and helping others reach their true potential in business and life. Stijn has been helping clients market high performance web sites for over 10 years, generating millions of dollars of business through high ROI strategies.

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