Search Engine Optimization – Research
Keyword phrase research involves identifying a group of keyword phrases that will be used in optimization. This step is critical and requires a considerable amount of time to find a good set of phrases that offer a balanced combination of two important factors: high usage by searchers and relatively low competition within the search engines.
Determining the most used phrase that contains your targeted keyword(s) is relatively easy. Online tools allow you to enter a particular keyword or words and will return all the ways in which that word(s) was used by searchers in the last month and in what volume. However, the most used phrase(s) is also likely the one with the greatest competition within the search results and may, therefore, not be where you would want to devote your optimization efforts. A more effective approach is to find a set of phrases (10 is a nice round number) that are heavily used by searchers but somewhat less competitive in terms of the total number of search results.
For example, assume you own a business that leases apartments in a particular metropolitan area, “Big City.” Your apartments are only located in one metro area, so you are not going to select general terms such as “apartments;” you are only interested in those searchers seeking an apartment in your city. The logical place to start is with the name of your city and the word “apartments.” You may find that the most used phrase is “big city apartments.” However, when you do sample searches in Google and Yahoo for that phrase you realize that the competition for that phrase is steep. If you go back to your findings from the keyword tool, you might find that a phrase such as “apartments in big city” is still heavily used by searchers but is far less competitive. Those phrases are the ones you will then target in the next step, site optimization.
Once armed with the target keyword phrases, we do a thorough competitive analysis of the subject site against its 7 – 10 biggest competitors (using both offline and online competitors). We use a series of SEO metrics, including indexed content, Alexa rating, inbound links, domain age, and social media following among others. Through this process, we are able to gauge the client site’s starting position against its competition and identify areas requiring priority in the subsequent work. For example, if we see that relative to the competition, the client’s site has 50% less indexed content, then content building would be a priority in the goal setting that happens in the next phase.