This is a guest post from Shannon Evans. It is part of The 2nd annual “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.
Being in the SEO business now for a couple of years, I have read many articles on SEO. Countless posts discuss how SEO is both an art and science. I agree on both these points, however I also think a little bit of luck also goes into the mix.
Even though no one but a few people at Google (cough Matt Cutts cough) know exactly what the SERPs are going to generate, we can do enough experiments to figure out a few things.
We know how to search relevant keywords, links from high ranking sites give us juice and what worked last month may or may not work this month. We may not have white coats and work in a lab, but SEO specialists are scientists of the Internet. We do experiments constantly and try to get our sites on the coveted first page of Google.
Keeping strict records of all link building efforts and analyzing all of the data you keep is a must in the SEO industry. Are certain keywords not preforming like they used to? Did you do something different? If not, you need to move your strategy in a new direction. In the SEO world Excel and other tools are your best friend.
There is also an art to SEO. Sometimes you know a keyword may not be highly searchable, but if you play around and think of similar words you could hit SEO gold. It takes a very analytical person to be a great scientist, but in SEO you need to be analytical and artistic.
Take guest posting for example. We know guest posts help with link building, yet if you can’t write a great article chances are you won’t get your link on many blogs. Now not all SEO specialists write guest posts. However, when looking at all the data you collect on a monthly basis, you need to be able to think outside the SEO box. How can you take your efforts to the next level. That is something your tools or Excel won’t tell you.
Ok, I might be going out on a limb here, but I think some of SEO is luck. Maybe not all the time, but there are those rare occations you just figure out something on accident—or as I like to put it luck. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does its fantastic.
It’s not to say that you didn’t implement an idea without an educated guess. However, I am a believer in luck. Maybe it’s the optimist inside me, but I think sometimes you take a leap of faith and it works. Sometimes the word luck gets used negatively, but in this instance I think sometimes when you stumble upon something that works, it’s luck.
This is a guest post from Kristin Page . It is part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.
Choosing your keywords is like choosing what type of coffee you want for breakfast. Do you go for the latte, pay the extra $3 and get the extra boost of energy; or do you go with the regular coffee and save a few dimes know that it will at least get you through the day. In SEO terms, do you really want to go after a major keyword or should you go for the simpler ones first. Where would each type of keyword get your business?
What Is Your Goal?
The first thing you need to determine is “what is your goal?” By getting to the top for each of the specific keywords you’ve chosen, what do you really want to get out of it? Do you want new customers? Do you want to share new information? Why do you want to be number one?
Some people want to get to the top for a keyword, just to say they got to the top and prove that they can do it. They put all of their effort into this one keyword that may or may not send their business flying, but they had to give it a shot. Others want to rank for a lot of keywords that take less effort but will guarantee them their standard customer base.
What types of keywords are on your list?
What Are The Keywords?
What are the keywords that you want to rank for? The very first one should be the name of your company and a few variations of it. People won’t necessarily remember your company name offhand, so you’ll want to cover a few extra names as well. By having that top spot for your company name you can start to control what people see first about your company. If you have some prominent names in your company, you may want to expect to have them in this list as well.
Chances are you can go on all day about what keywords you want to rank number one for, but this is where you need to choose, latte or regular coffee?
Sometimes there are those keywords that you know potentially could really boost your business, but the chances of ranking for those keywords means dropping a lot of other keywords you know will help keep your business moving along. It also could involve a large time investment from members of your company or a large monetary investment if you decide to outsource the SEO work. The “latte” keywords are great to aim for and it never hurts to get that extra boost, but it isn’t always the way to go. There are days when the 15 “regular coffee” keywords will work just as well as that one great keyword.
Step back and take a look at the big picture, you’re website and its content. How much of it are you willing to redo?
What Does Your Content Look Like?
One of the biggest problems in writing content to promote a business or service is that it isn’t always filled with your keywords. A very common mistake is for a company to take a very generic keyword and decide that is the keyword they want to be ranked number one for, but never once mention it in their content. How is Google supposed to know that the keyword relates to you?
Sending your content through a keyword tool or an SEO tool can help you realize where you’re focus was at the time of writing it. You may have focused on a keyword that you didn’t even realize. It may also give you an idea of what keywords search engines are pulling out of it as well. Is that “latte” keyword inside of your content?
Content writing can be a tricky task. While you want to make sure your content is keyword rich and ready for search engines to read, you also need to make sure that your audience can understand that same content.
There is other content to consider too, content that is not on your website but will either hurt or benefit your keyword quest.
What Are Others Saying About You
In an ideal world your website will speak for itself and you won’t need to rely on anyone else to help that along.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in that ideal world (at least I don’t).
Link building will help your keyword rankings, hopefully. People link to your website and in that link the provide a title tag. Search engines use what is in that title tag and associate it with your website, so it can’t hurt to have a keyword in there. If someone links back to your website, give them a title tag to use. It can’t hurt to keep focusing on the keywords YOU want to rank for, leaving it up to them can result in a very different ranking.
It is Your Choice
Personally, I prefer the latte over the regular coffee, my wallet on the other hand prefers the regular coffee. Once a week I’ll treat myself to that latte and get that quick boost needed, the other 6 days I stick with the cheaper route.
At the end of the day it’s your choice in what keywords you want to rank for. You get to make the choice if you go for the “latte” keywords or if you stick with the “regular old coffee” keywords that keep your business going.
There isn’t a right or a wrong answer to the question, so which route would you decide to take? Latte or regular coffee? What are your thoughts?
This is a guest post from Jason Capshaw. It is part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.
It is tempting to make SEO-related decisions simply based on search data, such as traffic volumes and competition. Yet, there is a far more important factor involved–profitability.
I have seen webmasters rank for ridiculously competitive keywords with tons of traffic, and have it bring very little value to their business. On the other hand, I know webmasters who rank for low-competitive keywords that convert better than their head keywords, and as a result, bring in much more profit.
There are a couple of factors that can cause this phenomenon:
- The site’s product offerings do not match the searchers’ intent
- The site offers good information, but does not brand itself well, so the viewers do not come back when they are ready to purchase
I have found that a large number of searchers type generalized keywords when they are conducting research in the early stages of the buying process. If you can provide that information and facilitate all the buying stages, you will do well with generalized keyword searches.
However, searches that are done in the later stages of the buying process are usually more specific, and these searches will include specific keywords that indicate their intentions, such as “buy,” “discount,” or “price.”
Identifying these keywords in your research and targeting them on your landing pages will help you cherry pick the best traffic from the search engines–traffic that converts well.
The Use of Brands in Searches
I have a close friend that runs a start-up ecommerce store that is a little over a year old that sells equipment to builders and construction workers. Let’s just call this equipment the standard “blue widget.”
He has good top ten rankings for both the head keyword “blue widget” as well as other mid-level keywords: specifically, “brand-blue widget”, where a specific brand or model number is used in the search. Originally, all he cared about and obsessed over was his head keywords. However, he didn’t see quick results for his new site, so he relegated himself to mid- level keywords.
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