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What is your keyword targeting strategy?

Wed, 17 Aug 2011 14:04:00 +0000

Let me ask you a few questions. What is your keyword targeting strategy? Do you go for the more general and competitive terms or for the more specific, longer and less competitive ones? Do you prefer shorter or longer articles? Are you targeting Google or Yahoo and MSN?Before I lay down my general keyword strategy, let me explain what is the “keyword ladder” and then I will elaborate on why I believe in climbing it (a bottom-up approach).Imagine a ladder where you put the most general and competitive keyphrases on the top rung and the least competitive keyphrases on the bottom rung.As an example, let us consider the SEO industry. On the top rung we would have general queries like: “search engine optimization”, “search engine marketing”, “seo” etc. Somewhere below we will have less competitive and more specific keyphrases like: “google search engine optimization”, “yahoo search engine optimization”, “search engine optimization services” etc. Going down the ladder we might come down to queries of the type: “affordable seo specialist in New York”, “where can I learn seo for free” etc.What are the general characteristics of the ladder? The top keyphrases are the most competitive, they have the highest traffic potential per keyphrase, they are fewer in numbers and they convert worst (there are too general).Going down the ladder we come to keyphrases that are less competitive, easier to rank for, have lower search volume, but are higher in numbers and usually convert much better (because they are very specific).The problem with very specific long queries is that it is hard to keyword research them. Depending on who you ask, about 20% to 50% of all daily queries are unique never-searched-before ones. Add to these the loads of queries from the bottom of the ladder that are searched for once in a while and we come to the fact that most of the queries from the bottom of the ladder don’t show in keyword research tools. That of course, can’t stop us from targeting them.I try to target the bottom half of the ladder for at least these reasons:1. It is easier to rank higher for less competitive keyphrases2. The traffic you can get from thousands of lower profile keyphrases is more diverse and stable since you don’t put your eggs in too few baskets (keywords)3. The bottom half of the ladder can provide more total traffic, since the number of low profile keyphrases is higher (it is like getting 100 visitors from one general keyphrase vs getting 10 visitors from each of 10 less competitive queries)4. Searchers are starting to use longer and more descriptive queries, which bumps up the traffic potential of the bottom half of the keyword ladder5. The bottom half of the ladder converts better (more revenue for you)6. Targeting many low competitive keywords at the same time is not that difficult on Google. If you still haven’t noticed, Google has introduced ranking scores which push up the overall rankings of pages and sites that rank well for a variety of keyphrases. In other words, when you have a lot of content, you rank well for a variety of less competitive queries, which pushes up your rankings on the more competitive queries from the top half of the ladder, which in turn pushes the rankings of the even more competitive ones etc. Or to restate it in other words, with Google it is much easier to rank for the general high search volume queries (top half of the ladder), when you have already conquered the bottom half of the ladder. That is what I call ‘climbing’ the keyword ladder. All you have to do is have loads of content.Let me get back to the last point above: you must climb the keyword ladder by starting from less competitive queries and gradually increasing your rankings for more and more competitive keywords.Here’s a snippet from Google’s patent “Information Retrieval Based On Historical Data”:“Thus, the quantity or rate that a document moves in rankings over a period of time might be used to influence future scores assigned to t[...]