By Christine OKelly | May 12, 2010
If you’ve plunged into the “90 Days to Higher Search Engine Rankings Challenge,” welcome to lesson #3. If you’re new to the series and want to seriously learn the steps I take to get my clients ranking in top positions for profitable keywords, I highly suggest starting at Higher Search Engine Rankings Challenge #1 and digging in!
You may be wondering why for three straight lessons, I’ve been obsessed about keyword research — but it’s because it is that important. I know it’s not as much fun as diving into social media or publishing kick ass content, but I promise… if you want to start building qualified leads and sales through organic search engine traffic, strategically choosing your keywords will be the foundation of your success.
Today’s Mission: Finalizing Your Laser Targeted Keyword “Short List”
Est. time to complete: 40-80 minutes (depending on the number of keywords found)
You may be feeling overwhelmed right now based on the number of keyword opportunities that you found in the last two challenges. You may have found hundreds of keywords that you want to optimize for.
However, not ALL of these keywords are going to be good target keywords. And even if they are, some are going to be more effective than others. This list has got to be prioritized. I’ve found that it’s far more effective to pick 5-10 keyword terms and hit them hard for a few months before moving onto another group, rather than spreading your efforts over 20-30 keywords at once.
Keyword Refinement Step One: Identify the HIGH CONVERSION TERMS
If we’re going to have to narrow down the list, we may as well start with terms that are HIGH CONVERSION TERMS — terms that imply that someone is looking to buy.
If you did the second session of the ‘90 Days to Higher Search Engine Rankings‘ challenge, you downloaded a keyword research worksheet and filled in some of the columns. Now you’re going to complete more of those columns. In the column titled “type” you’re going use your gut instinct and what you know about your industry to designate which of these are actionable (conversion-focused) terms. If it is a high conversion term type “actionable” in Column D. Do this for all keywords.
For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you might imply that someone who searches for “hire a graphic designer” is more likely to buy than someone who searches for “graphic design elements.” Therefore, the term “hire a graphic designer” would be an “actionable” term.
Next, click the arrow buttons on Column D and “sort descending.” All of your actionable items should be grouped together. For now, we’re only going to work with these. You can cut and paste all of the other items onto another tab on your excel sheet — we’ll come back and revisit those at a later date.
Here’s Where The Nifty Little Keyword Research Trick Comes Into Play…
Keyword Refinement Step Two: Analyze the Organic Competition
You’ve seen the “1 – 10 of about” number that appears when you do a search for a keyword term. These are the number of pages that Google believes is relevant to your search query. I don’t believe that this number is important — what matters more in terms of identifying how many pages you are REALLY competition against are the number of pages with the search term in the title tag of the page.
“allintitle:” is a Google Operator. This particular operator returns only the results where your keyword is in the title tag of the website. This allows you to get a good feel for the number of sites that are actively optimizing for a particular keyword — i.e. how steep the competition truly is for that keyword.
Note If you conduct a between 25 and 30 of “allintite:” search results consecutively; you will get a “We’re sorry” screen from Google. Don’t be alarmed. You need to take a break and come back to it later. You haven’t done anything wrong by searching for “allintitle” — in fact, Google tells you how to do this. They only reason the search gets blocked for a while is because, if you’ve done many searches like this consecutively, Google thinks that you are running a script to do automated meta searches — which is NOT allowed.
- One by one, enter the keyword terms you’ve listed into Google
- This time however, precede the keyword with the term “allintitle: ” (do not include quotation marks and leave a space between allintitle: and your keyword.
- Copy the number of search results and paste that number into column C.
- Graph the results
Analyzing the Keyword Research Data
Now that you’ve got all of this raw data, you need to know how to read it. Looking at a spreadsheet full of numbers can be hard to read at first. I usually work with the raw data, but I know it helps to have something to “look” at that gives a visual snapshot of the data. Adding a graph can help you to quickly get a visual picture of your data.
The ideal keyword is one that has high search volume and low competition. That doesn’t mean that you can’t rank for high volume keywords — it just means that it’s going to take a little bit longer.
- Highlight the data in columns A, B, and C (including the titles)
- If you have a newer version of Excel, click the “gallery” icon and select the “charts” tab
- Scroll through the chart types until you find the “bubble” graph
- Select the bubble graph – and a graph will instantly appear
Reading the graph:
- The SIZE of the bubble represents the amount of competition. A bigger bubble = greater competition.
- The height of the bubble on the page represents the search volume
- A small bubble high on the page = a term with high search volume and low competition
- By hovering over the bubble, you can read the name of the keyword
Building Your Keyword Short List
Next, you are going to build your shortlist of keywords. These are going to be keywords that you are going to work very closely with over the next 30 days. To keep things simple, I suggest that you choose 6 keywords. For this first month, those 6 keywords will be
- 3 absolute “must haves” in terms of conversion
- 3 of the lowest competition keywords that have a relatively significant amount of searches (I’m not going to give an exact figure, because each industry is different. For some industries “relatively significant” may mean 1000 and for others it may mean 300.)
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You have made it through what I consider to be the most tedious part of SEO! Keyword research can be boring, frustrating, and mind numbing, but if you’ve pushed through, you’re in a better position than everyone else who gave up.
Now that you have a finely tuned list of keywords, your upcoming challenges will revolve around ranking for those keywords. It’s time to start planting the seeds and soon reap the fruits of your labor…
This week, I’d like to give a shout out to Edward Lujan of Setster (NOT an affiliate link) for introducing me to a way to cut out the hassle of trying to schedule a call. Thought I try to handle everything through email, there are times when a call is necessary. I have a 5 hour window of time per day when I can take a call — and that time fills up FAST.
It has been such a pain in the @$$ to try and go back and forth with people. If you schedule phone calls, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Here’s a pretty common scenario when scheduling a call before Setster…
- First, I go and check Google calendar and write out an email listing the scattered hours that I’m free.
- The client writes back the later that day and say that they are available at “x” time.
- In the time it took them to write back, someone else has already scheduled a call during that slot because I had given 2 other people the same email with my available times.
- Then we start the dance all over again
The process now with Setster
- I give the person a link my Setster calendar (which is linked to my Google Calendar) and they schedule the call themselves during an available time.
This would be a great tool for people who offer paid consulting, because you can embed a widget on your site — and the tool integrates PayPal so that you can charge for consulting. I may use these features in the future, but right now, I’m just THRILLED to have an easy way to schedule a call that doesn’t take so much time and frustration. If you’re looking for appointment scheduling software, I definitely recommend Setster.
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