Keyword Research For Existing Sites Part 1

In response to a recent enquiry we had through our SEO Liverpool blog, today we’re looking at keyword research for existing websites.

Keyword research is arguably the most appropriate starting point for any search engine marketing consultant. We know that our Keywords direct the searcher to the website, therefore our primary aim is to create a list of keywords that a searcher would desire.

So how should we start to generate the list…

Identify The Websites Key-pages

We need to find the appropriate pages that a searcher would need to make a conversion or buy a product or service. Obviously the home page should always be treated as a key-page. I would always choose individual product pages and probably add a ‘convincer’ to that list e.g. testimonials, case-study or accreditation page.

Rough Keyword List

For each page, you should write a quick list of potential keywords. It’s always good practice to ask potential or existing customers, especially those with different persona’s. Remember it’s just a rough list based around the products or services and possibly locations so you may need to be clear on Geo-specifics e.g. SEO Liverpool, Search Engine Optimisation Manchester.

Different persona’s look like this e.g. If I was to buy a camera, I’d know the brand name and some basic features, a professional or hobbyist would know more technical information such as model numbers.

Quick tip -  As a starting point find a competitors website, that ranks number well for your product or service. View their page source from your browser tab. Look for the keyword meta tag, as this should give you ideas relating to your keywords. As in the previous post, the title tag will have the most sought after keywords (shown at the top of the browser once you’ve opened the website).

<meta name=”keywords” content=”Sony Camera, Sony 4567×4, professional Sony camera cheap” />

Check Keyword Popularity

For this you’ll need either your own keyword software such as ‘Wordtracker’ or use the ‘free Adwords keyword tool’ (just type this into Google)

For the purpose of this post we’ll look at the free Adwords Tool.

  1. Insert your draft keywords into the ‘Word or Phrase’ box
  2. Un-check the following boxes, ‘Only show idea’s closely related to my search terms’ (This will generate other keywords that will be useful)
  3. Un-check ‘Broad’ under the ‘Match Types’ on the left hand side column (Otherwise you’ll include keywords, in any order and with extras – this is a problem)
  4. Check the ‘Exact’ box (Only shows the exact keywords in that order)
  5. Click the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab

You’ll then generate a list by selecting each keyword, which you can download.

Notes. high search volume and low competition is good, high search and high competition not so good. Keyword volumes under the ‘Local Monthly Search’ look at Google UK, but if you enter a Geo-specific, you’re laser targeting.

From this list we can generate suggestions and you’ll have the ability to drill down to find a lot more keywords around your products and services.

Export the results, arrange them in priority for each specific key-page. You’ll then have a solid draft list.

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SEO Basics – Meta Tags

The importance of the Title tag.

Meta data is probably the first port of call for most new SEO’s. If you get it right, then you can see a large gain as far as your optimisation efforts are concerned. I’m sure everybody understands what a title tag is, but lets make sure.

Lets examine them in more detail…

Title Tag = <title>This is what it looks like</title>

So as we’ve already stated the tag is a very effective tool for SEO. Almost every Search Engine Optimisation Consultant will have a slightly different way of using it. So how can we see it? Well, it is usually visible at the top of each browser once a website is open.

The established Rules

1) 70 Characters – This is the generally accepted wisdom, the title tag should be no longer than 70 characters. Any longer can be detrimental

2) Important Keywords  – The first keyword you place in this tag will be considered most important – If you write any content, own a website or pick up a product off the shelf. The first word/s will generally set the tone. e.g. If the most important content of a website is written at the bottom, then it’s obviously not the most important, think headline! A search engine generally uses this as a rule with all content.

3) What It Should Say – Every single page of your website should have a different title tag and this should reflect the content within that specific page. So if you’ll probably want the name of page, business name and a keyword. As above place the keyword first, page second and the business name third.

e.g. The Main Keyword Here | The Page Contact Us | Business Name Goes Here

On a side note, the piping (|) is used so we don’t waste characters… unless the keyword/phrase you’ve previously researched calls for it.

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The Law Of Diminishing Returns

90% Is Good Enough

I discussed this with a variety of SEO Liverpool clients, and in the past I’ve devoted entire talks on this topic. The focus is usually in relation to link-building vs. on-page SEO, but the message is the same.

What we’re discussing in this post is the need to get everything absolutely perfect and concentrating your efforts on a tactic that just isn’t worth the fuss of hitting 100%.  People naturally get comfortable with one aspect of the search marketing mix (link-building, on-page, social, etc.) and then want to ‘perfect’ it, but at best they hit diminishing returns fast.

Why focus your resources on attaining the last 10%, when you’ll get a much higher return by concentrating those efforts on other tactics that will provide much more SEO benefit.

I’ve seen sites with spotless on-page SEO that have been stuck for months suddenly leap through the rankings because they’ve acquired a few good links. On the flip-side, I’ve seen sites that were a total mess but had solid link profiles miraculously improve when their on-page problems were fixed.

We understand the perceived value that optimising each aspect of your SEO to 100% efficient, but often, you focus a vast proportion of your time on just one aspect. If the focus was to shift to another related to the central pillars of SEO, the rewards would be much greater.

Be Tough and Patient

Our SEO Agency Liverpool can only stress patience. This could be the toughest skill any good SEO eventually has to learn. There are times when you’ll need to react quickly to a problem, especially a technical problem (like a bad redirect or site outage). There’s a fine line between reacting and over-reacting, though.

The common technical SEO mistake we see is when organisations and SEO’s make a change, if it doesn’t immediately improve their rankings 24 hours later, and so they revert it or make another change on top of it. Even if it doesn’t make the problem worse (and it usually does), you’ll never be able to measure which change worked. Make sure your changes went live, that Google has acknowledged them (i.e. crawled and cached), and that you can measure the impact or lack of impact. Don’t change your strategy overnight based on bad information (or no information).

 

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Spam Emails And Mass SEO Marketing

This is a subject I like to revisit from time to time.  I received this email and I’m sure it went out to thousands of businesses.

At SEO Liverpool we’re sick to death of this type of lame marketing exercise. This is potentially the most harmful type of spam, as it can destabilise new campaigns and usually results in lots of phone calls from clients.

Let me know your thoughts.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Hello,

I hope you’re doing well!

I was surfing through your site where I saw that your site was not ranking on any search engines.

If you are interested we want to increase the number of visitors to your website, it is important that you have a top search engine position.

Our search engine optimization experts will run a ranking report showing you exactly where your website currently stands in all the major search engines. Then we will email you our analysis report along with the recommendations of how we can increase your rankings, and improve your websites traffic dramatically!

We strictly work on performance basis and can assure you of getting quality links with a proper reporting format for your site as well.

We wish you the best of luck and looking forward to a long and healthy business relationship with you and your company.

Please do let me know if you have any questions.

Kind Regards,

****

Post:- Online Marketing Manager

Reply me:- 

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

The main issue I have with this type of email, is that it reinforces a certain stereotype. The stereotype that people working within our industry are opportunists, willing to take on any work, and we’ll scare you into it. If you speak with web designers, developers and many other associated industries, they’ll tell you that search engine optimisation SEO has a poor reputation.

Sadly the companies that operate in this manner will promise the earth and very rarely deliver.

The reasons why I feel this type of email is harmful

  1. It isn’t addressed to anyone (this gives you a clue that they have just spammed an entire network)
  2. How can they possibly investigate your website and the potential keywords. Especially as we’ve worked out that this email has been sent to thousands of people.
  3. Good SEO/SEM firms do not advertise in this way and here is why…
  • It’s simply not ethical for an SEO company to work with more than one client in a specific industry.
  • It’s simply not possible to scale a business to deal with that many prospects and effectively evaluate opportunities.

No Two SEO Strategies Are The Same

Once a business approaches an SEO company, a review (almost a due diligence project) needs to take place for the following reasons…

  1.  Can you work in this area? Do you have the expertise? Is it ethical? Do you already have a client in this space?
  2.  You need to establish a base level of current activities.
  3.  Is it possible with a reasonable budget to get those identified positions

A responsible SEO company will evaluate…

  • Competitiveness of keywords.
  • Other competing companies.
  • A basic breakdown of what need to change or adapt.
  • Internal resource and departments involved in the web property.
  • Is their potential for a good ROI (return on investment)?

Return on investment is key when dealing with clients

If the level of investment in SEO, website changes and social strategies isn’t proportional to estimated traffic, conversions, profit margins and eventually scale-ability…  then it’s a no go!

e.g. The simple economic formula

If you make money by selling in volume ‘stack high and keep it cheap’ and search volumes are low, then it may not make business sense.

Acceptable Prospect

  • High Value Product/Service
  • Proportionally Good Search Volumes
  • Low Or Medium Keyword Competition

Difficult Proposition

  • Low Value Product/Service or Poor Margins
  • Low Search Volumes
  • Medium To High Competition

Most sites fall in-between and therefore a robust research piece should be your first port of call.

Conclusion

The inadequacies in such a poorly researched email wouldn’t fool anyone in the industry. On closer inspection this company hasn’t got a website that relates to the email address sent. Therefore, anybody who conducts a little research won’t be drawn in.

Unfortunately some SME’S will be fooled! Either way, the SEO industries credibility is under-threat as these type of emails are becoming more common.

 

 

 

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Lets Talk About Microsites

Microsites, What Are They Good For?

SEO Liverpool have had a fair few meetings in recent weeks relating to this subject. Clients want to know why microsites or mini-sites have been used for different SEM (search engine marketing) strategies. Let’s examine the possible reasons to create a microsite.

1) You’ve a new product/offer you’d like to promote.

  • You’ve a new product or offer you’d like to promote. You don’t want to change your website just yet, and you may feel that this offer or product is outside your normal remit of business.
  • Changing a website and moving elements around can be difficult.  Maintaining a cohesive structure alongside your user experience design principals could mean you’ll potentially harm sales.
  • You may be forced to tuck away valuable information as adding new content requires a massive investment to recreate the site with the new product/s in the appropriate placements.
  • Sometimes, with the amount of internal teams having a vested intest in a large website e.g. webdesign, web-development, SEO and marketing, creating a microsite is often a quick and easy short-term solution.
  • The offer might be a limited addition, or may only be available or tailored to another market/country.

2) You’ve a new product/offer and you don’t wish to cannablise your own market

  • If you’ve an updated version of a product that could decimate your current market. E.g. Gillet are the masters of upgrading their razors and blades… whilst still selling older versions of their products.
  • You may want to create an offer in a different market and therefore wouldn’t want to upset your current customer base. Special introductory offer microsites are becoming ever more popular.

3) To maximize your PPC revenue in relation to quality score.

  • The most common reason for a microsite that we happen upon. If you want to reduce your PPC costs, quality score is key. Creating a microsite that displays all the relevant information and has the appropriate conversion points are key.
  • Measurement and multi-varient testing can also be much easier using a microsite. You can change and update pages and gather strong data about how customers interact with the brand in relation to keywords and information they want.

Hope this information is useful, as we’ve a lot of clients that either set them up for the wrong reasons, or don’t understand why you would ever need a microsite. If you want to discuss microsites with our SEO agency Liverpool, drop us an email.

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Update Negative SEO Is Possible

At SEO Liverpool we’re always testing, reading blogs and talking with others inside our industry about current optimisation issues. In previous posts we’ve discussed negative SEO. To clarify what we mean by negative SEO, it isn’t devaluing your own site through black and grey hat techniques that end up with small penalties, which may affect your rankings. We’re discussing factors outside of your control that could get you de-listed.

Many years ago, I was made aware of certain techniques that a skilled SEO could use to actually ‘burn’ another site. It was possible to go against influence Google’s search algorithm by pretending to be part of a particular site and through various, difficult and laborious techniques actually get a site delisted from Google. This would take a very long-time and was extremely difficult, more so to hid your tracks. We would never do this and just to be really clear we’ve have never heard of anyone actually trying it.

Google has pretty much always denied this is a possibility and has stuck to the belief that search engine factors that are outside the website owners control, can’t harm you.

The recent update to webmaster tools with their link disavow tool suggests their stance has changed!

How about a theoretical example.

We have a webpage that competes pretty well on page one for a particular key-phrase lets say ‘Halloween Masks’

They’ve a good content strategy, and link building is continuing at a steady pace. They’ve a good mix of both semantically linked websites and personal blogs with low PageRank.

It seems to me, that if Google have created a tool where you can disavow any link, then some links are deemed to be detrimental to website health. Therefore, if a competitor contacts a disreputable link-building agency and asked to place a few thousand links from a disreputable sites, link-farms and porn-sites, using our desired keyword, then the site in question will be penalised. Eventually and with continual bad link partners this particular site would not only be penalised but also eventually be removed from the Google index.

This would happen quickly and without the knowledge of the website owner, particularly if they haven’t yet signed up to a webmaster tools account.

You will get a warnings for inappropriate links, but thousands pointing at your site, from poor value web properties and link-farms will surly harm you.

There you have it. As an SEO in Liverpool, we’re convinced that negative SEO through no action of your own is now possible.

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Google Updates & Help

Anybody involved in the SEO industry will know that the recent ever-present updates to the Google Algorithm have been thrown at us with ever increasing regularity.

Today we’re going to discuss two updates that I feel small white hat SEO’s may have had some trouble with.

We’re not taking about the very recent Penguin #3 — October 5, 2012 or the Panda #20 — September 27, 2012. We feel these have been sufficiently covered by the majority of blogs.

Today at SEO Liverpool we’re discussing;

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update — September 27, 2012

Officially this relates to ‘a change in the way it was handling exact-match domains (EMDs). This led to large-scale devaluation, reducing the presence of EMDs by over 10%. Official word is that this change impacted 0.6% of queries (by volume)‘.

So if you’re domain name is the same as the major keywords you’ve been trying to rank for.

e.g. if your domain is ‘www.low-cost-insurance.com‘ and you wish to rank for ‘low cost insurance’… then you’ll lose some value. Not a huge amount but enough to lose a position or two dependent on the keywords competition.

Should I panic

Absolutely not, all these algorithm changes are not set in stone, quite often Google tweaks the algorithm or even totally reverses it. So please don’t try and change your domain name. You’ll lose the value of domain age and possibly the value of incoming links if not properly managed.

I’ve seen this happen!

What Should I Do

The answer is nothing. Any attempt to change will, without doubt cause you more harm than good. It’s swings and roundabouts with updates. The next could catapult you back to your previous positions. The best course of action is to concentrate on the fundamentals – More unique content, more links (Good Value) and Social. Think of the Google Algorithm as a score next to each individual aspect related to a webpage. That devaluation will, more often than not be pushed to another aspect or shared out amongst a group of others.

If you concentrate you’re efforts in content, social and links, then you’ll claw it back. If you choose these particular aspects then it is unlikely you’ll receive any penalties or devaluation in the near future. As I’ve stated above, this change could be reversed and then your hard work will certainly pay off.

Page Layout #2 — October 9, 2012

If you have been penalised with this one then you’re in trouble… ‘Google announced an update to its original page layout algorithm change back in January, which targeted pages with too many ads above the fold. It’s unclear whether this was an algorithm change or a Panda-style data refresh.’

If you understand the implications then it’s easy to understand the solution.

Why Have I Been Penalised?

Google generates the majority of its revenue in search via Pay-Per-Click. In order to generate PPC monies it’s search needs to be trusted. If organically your website ranks high and doesn’t show a good amount of useful content above the fold or a even small area e.g. http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/ then you’re not that useful. This is irrespective of what your site is about. Importantly if any website has sponsored links or even worse Ad-sense all over the valuable real-estate above the fold on the website… from the search engines perspective, you’re not useful.

What Can I Do

Personally, and I can only answer this personally, you need a website update. Get rid of ad-sense… I mean unless you’ve got a serious amount of traffic you can only be making pennies! Reorganise the site so you’ve good content in the key areas and look sensibly from a UX point of view at your offer. You can still keep them but place them down the page or on separate pages.

I don’t think Google will reverse this one, so make the changes quickly. 100% of nothing is still nothing, so if you reduce your advertising by 50% and get those top positions back you’ll still generate revenue.

Hope this helps

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Even More Quick Hits

SEO Liverpool have been asked these particular questions many times in recent weeks.

‘If i could do one thing, what would it be to get my website ranked higher within the search engines’.

This is easy… Content. It’s king don’t you know!

If you want to let the search engines know you’re alive and kicking, then show them. The fresh content part of the algorithm is still very powerful.

If you regularly put fresh content on your key pages, you’ll encourage the search engines to index you and hopefully generate some links.

‘I get lots of emails where people would like a link from me’.

This is a standard SEO practice. Remember not all links are equal and some people will try to deceive you.  The best possible advice is to get them to link to you. Then evaluate the link using either firebug or the simple PageRank icon on the Google toolbar. If it’s good, then it may be worth following them. Any business that wishes a link from you should be willing to give one back.

A good link will have good page rank, it’s from a complimentary business or even from a business in your particular field. Make sure the link isn’t a ‘No follow’ (a way to try and devalue the link back to you).

‘How can i get more links’?

It’s like I told you, good content is an easy win. Create a widget or a plugin for websites with a link back to your site. Info-graphics, Tweet’s, Facebook and YouTube are also good ways to generate links.

‘How come SEO costs so much’?

Well, this is a difficult one. There are only 10 organic listings per page (although talk is this may shrink). Competitiveness of keywords, level of competition and the actual current state of the website are determining factors. Do you want to compete locally, nationally or globally?

Anybody that solicits to you is generally not going to be that good. Anybody who asks you to pay a small monthly fee, won’t give you the attention your site deserves. Any company that doesn’t care to know about each aspect of your business and your current internal resources won’t generally be good either.

SEO is complicated, constantly evolving and fairly costly. If a company can demonstrate a return on investment then they’ll usually be worth it.

Thanks for questions guys

 

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SEO Liverpool Blogging Tools We Use

At SEO Liverpool this week we thought we’d let you guys into the interesting tools we use for blogging and productivity.

Have a look at these and let us know your thoughts

InboxQ
This blogging tool I’ve been working with for a few months ago. InboxQ essentially helps you to come up with better blog topics. This tool helps you find questions people are asking on Twitter.

The Content Idea Generator
The Content Idea Generator (v2) is a Google Doc that will automatically find news and related stories for your blog from a variety of sources… everything from Google News to Reddit, from tweets to public Facebook updates and more. Just search for it in Google.

Focus Booster
Focus Booster is a tool that many bloggers use to increase writing productivity. I’m the first to admit that I have an incredibly short attention span. My creativity thrives in short spurts of activity with frequent breaks. With Focus Booster I can concentrate on writing and turning ideas into blogs.

StorifyStorify
Storify is a great way to curate articles and opinions on any given topic or capture reactions to an event in real time.

Storify can help illustrate a point with third-party content and comments or help bring to life an event by pulling in activity from the news stream or Twitterverse.  We’ve previously used Storify on our blog to share news and tweets during a conference.

We’re not saying these are the best tools, but they will help.

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Get Your SEO Involved Early On

Here at SEO Liverpool we recently had a call from a business trying to engage us for search engine optimisation. They had spoken to a few other companies before us and decided he knew what he wanted and more importantly, he knew what he wanted to pay.

The Situation

He had his website built based on his own webdesign ideas and from the look of the website had not employed anybody who understood UX (User Experience) design. If fact for our perspective, he’s missed this step and employed a firm of developers from India to build to his personal specifications.

Secondly, he had then decided to employ an SEO specialist to simply gain the page one, number one listing!

Finally, the potential client had decided what he’d like to pay, he knew the amount of clients he could potentially reach and that almost all would want his service.

His Offer

A small SEO fee on retainer then a profit share based on sales.

The reality of the situation

Unfortunately, even the most insular webdesign and development teams understand the nature of UX particularly in relation to conversion. Navigation isn’t simply decided, it’s researched using a number of techniques and systems such as ‘card sorting’ and ‘user journey analysis’. The message on the home pages should be succinct and broken down to manageable chunks. Removal of any psychological barriers should be a priority, otherwise you can derail customers from going on the user journeys you’ve planned and ultimately driving them to some sort of agreed conversion or at the very least data harvesting.

This website shown looked very pretty, didn’t fulfill any of the requirements for SEO. Content was mixed and design was unclear with conflicted messages.

If in the research piece keyword volumes for the particular services and ROI for such services were worthwhile, the current design would have already put us quite far back. A redesign would have almost certainly have been needed.

The client wasn’t prepared to do that!

The client wanted the majority of this SEO company UK contract to be funded by the percentage of sales. Unfortunately, if it was possible to get to number one, the conversions through the site would have been very, very low. It wasn’t until I had a chat with the business, that I understood the services, therefore it would be a difficult proposition to any site visitor.

Finally, the search volumes are low, the price of the service is low, and the profitability needed to cover costs wasn’t viable.

Needless to say, we aren’t working on the project.

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