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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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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Should We Optimise Phone Numbers

Firstly SEO Liverpool would like to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year.

Lets get to the first question of the year. Phone numbers, is there an advantage to having them on your search engine placement.

Would displaying a phone number in your title tag increase your click-through-rate for your search listing. Is the searcher actually searching for your phone number? We’re talking about the actual phone number not the phrase ‘phone number’…. depending on the business, maybe.

You could conceivably take away traffic from Yell, or other sites that list your business’s phone number.

The only interesting point for me would be optimising for competitors phone number, to draw in a click. You may possibly steal some traffic, but not a very nice tactic.

Personally, I think that meta data is to important to waste on phone numbers, use the local business listings for that type of optimisation

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Let’s get your website ranking quickly

At Summit, our online marketing company we’re always asked to speed up the process.

If your site is brand new and you want to compete against established sites directly on their most important keywords then you need to be good at public relations, have a better brand strategy, or have some remarkable feature that makes people want to talk about you. Without conversation and links it is hard to pass up sites that have been accumulating links for years.

But what if you could roll back the clock, and quickly grab those top search engine placements. You can.

The easiest way is to buy an old site that is not well maintained, and then build it up. But if that is outside the scope of your budget or marketing strategy and you are trying to rank a new site the key is not to attack directly, but to attack indirectly.

Of course many of your product pages will contain keywords that are the same or similar to that which the competition is targeting, but the more obscure long tail words are going to be easier to rank for. Here are 6 strategies to help you get lucky with your ranking quickly:

Tip 1

Use the less popular version of a keyword. If most your competitors are targeting Knowledge Management but nobody is targeting Knowledgemanagement then it is going to be easier to rank for that alternative version. And even if the alternate version only gets 5% or 10% the search volume of the related keyword, you are still going to pull in more traffic by ranking #1 for it than you would ranking #30 for the more popular version of the keyword.

Tip 2

Use many keyword modifiers. If you can’t rank for the core keywords then try to add some related keyword modifiers to the page title. Is credit cards too hard of a keyword? Then consider targeting a phrase like best credit cards. Cheap search engine optimization contracts will usually concentrate on this particular tactic.

Tip3

Mix up your on page optimisation. Rather than placing your keyword phrase all over the page consider mixing up how you use it. If the page title contains best credit cards consider using something like compare top credit card offers in the on page H1 header. Notice the change between plural and singular versions of the keywords. Popular CMS programs like WordPress have plug ins like the SEO Title tag plug in that make it quite easy to vary your page title and on page heading.

Tip4

Go deeper than the competition is going. In some fields I have been lucky enough to find niche low volume keyword topics that bring in a couple searchers each day. The ongoing maintenance cost of this content has been negligible, but as an added bonus for ranking for these long long tail keywords is that some of the people who search for them are people who really care about those topics, and many of them link to our websites. And so my new sites start benefiting from the self reinforcing effects that older sites benefit from, even though it is still new.

Tip5

Move away from the commercial keywords. If you stay within a small basket of well known commercial keywords it is hard to compete with strong competitors that have been targeting them for years. Niche how to content that solves a searcher’s problems is likely to build inbound links. These inbound links boost your domain authority and pass PageRank internally to other pages on your site, which is much of the general goal of many SEO linkbait projects…some pages are good at building inbound citations while other pages leverage that link authority and generate revenue.

Tip6

Buy traffic. If you build high quality niche content and it does not rank as well as you would like it to then you need to actively market it. Mention it to a couple popular bloggers in your space and ask them what they think of it. Another option for instantly getting relevant traffic to featured content is to buy targeted ads. StumbleUpon (you’ll end up paying for SEO services in dollars) sells category based traffic for 5 cents a visitor, but this traffic is nowhere near as potent as search traffic – many of these visitors come and go quickly. You can also buy pay per click traffic for your quality content. If you are buying it for commercial keywords the cost per click can be significant, but if you are trying to promote a quality non-commercial topic that is linkworthy you can often get visitors from search and AdSense ads for less than 10 pence each. With the buying traffic to build links strategy, it can take hundreds of clicks to generate an inbound link, but when you consider how time consuming and expensive link building is, then $50 or $100 for a good link can be an outright bargain.

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6 common website mistakes that could be costing you money

As an SEO Company we’re always dealing with clients who seem to have a little bit of SEO PPC or online marketing knowledge. Here we’ve put together 6 really common website mistakes and get they could be costing you money.

1. JavaScript or other crawler-unfriendly navigation that may impede indexing. Most newer sites don’t have this problem, but there’s almost always at least 1 site we review in every class that has its main navigation pretty much invisible to the search engines. If your navigation basically doesn’t exist as far as Google is concerned, then it’s very difficult to get all of the pages of your website indexed.

2. Navigation that buries important pages within the site architecture. The deeper that pages are buried within the website, the less importance they are given. For SEO, as well as usability purposes, it’s often helpful to showcase important sections of the website up an additional level in the site’s hierarchy. This can usually be achieved via a search-friendly CSS mouse-over menu.

3. Duplicate “pages” getting indexed under multiple URLs. While Google has, for the most part, worked out many of their canonical issues of the past and now generally realize that www.example.com/index.php is the same as www.example.com, many content management systems (CMS) take things a step further and provide a whole array of URLs for any one particular page of content. Sometimes this is done purposely for tracking reasons, as with session ids or tracking links appended to the end of URLs; but other times, it’s simply done because the CMS was never designed with search engines in mind. This is not a good thing, as it can cause the spiders to be so busy indexing the same content that they miss the more important stuff.

4. No keyword phrase focus in the content or conversely, keyword phrase stuffing. It never ceases to amaze me when people claim to have optimised a page, but there are no keyword phrases anywhere to be seen within the content. I suppose this might happen because they’ve put them in the keyword meta tag and assume they’ve optimised. (It’s a good thing they’ve come to our class when this is the case!) On the other side of the coin, there are those who seem to think that 4 instances of a keyword phrase in one sentence must certainly be better than just one! The fix, of course, is to provide a balanced focus on the optimised keyword phrases so that a trained SEO would know what the page is optimised for, but the average reader wouldn’t find the copy repetitive.

5. An optimised home page, but that’s it. While optimizing just the home page is better than not optimizing anything, it’s not going to increase the website’s search engine traffic by that much. Without fixing all the issues on inner pages and optimizing a number of them for their own set of keyword phrases, the site will basically be leaving money on the table.

6. Additional domains owned by the company are not properly redirected. In the old days, it was fine to park any additional domains that the company owned as an alias of the main website; however, today it’s much better practice to 301-redirect all additional domains to the main website. This enables the company to control which domain is the one that the search engines index, and avoids any splitting of link popularity between the different domains.

These 6 are by no means the only website mistakes we see. I’m going back through the sites we reviewed, I found tons of additional mistakes which I’ll save for a future article. My hope is that at least one of these may ring a bell to you as something that needs to be fixed on your own website. Once you take the time to correct the issue, you should find that your website will start gaining a lot more targeted search engine traffic, and ideally start making you more money!

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Tips for finding Niche Keywords Part 3

The final part in our post from Summit online marketing looking… the top seo guide to finding niche keywords

4. Did you know that there are differences between the written word and spoken dialogue? Try exploring natural sounding “dialogue” and words based on dialogue. Your friends and customers often will say things, that give you a starting place to explore new data.

5. Open up your research and explore the world of colour. For example, what happens if you enter a single term representing a colour like “red,” or “aqua” or “green” or any other colour?

6. Explore any type of data at all in terms of a root word. Don’t forget to explore everything and anything that comes to mind. From a topic you notice on the news, to something that may not even be a word at all. What happens if you try to explore a number, or a price like £9.95 instead of a word?

7. Instead of just thinking of your research as “keywords” try thinking in terms of your audience’s “topics of interest.”

Wordtracker will give you absolutely AMAZING detail if you take time to think about it laterally, and outside of the context of just a “keyword hunt.” Don’t let the natural tendency to “guess at keywords” stop you from uncovering all the hidden evidence, that just needs a little digging to find.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, if you want more ideas you can visit Wordtracker and have a go for free!

Michael Campbell Notes: Anybody involved with online marketing consulting would think about your audience’s trade lingo, industry jargon, and words that are specific to a certain holiday, sport, hobby or service. For example, RIP, stripper, loupe, masking, pantone, dot gain and super black are all related to the printing industry. Spend some time in the industry association sites or read industry specific magazines to learn their lingo, for more potential niches.

Another tip is to use verbs and action words like “stop” or “improve” as your root word. Then let the keyword service (my favourite is NicheBot) tell you what people want “stopped” or “improved” in their lives.

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Tips for finding Niche Keywords Part 2

More on keyword research

With my first tip, I’m going to use an American example (It’s still more than relevant for the UK and European search marketer)… it was a quick sample page I’ve taken from a previous client.

1. If you are a Realtor, instead of using an obvious “logical phrase” like “real estate” (with 323 million competing pages on Google), or using a keyword acronym such as MLS (over 40 million competing pages on Google.) Try a researching a single “root word” term like “listing” just all by itself, leaving Wordtracker to do the hard part. Here are a few examples – each with under 1000 competing pages – which I grabbed in under 3 minutes of Wordtracker research:

* “house listings parry sound” – 90 competing pages for this exact phrase.
* “Wyoming MN home listings” – 197 competing pages for this exact phrase.
* “michigan real estate listing” – 197 competing pages for this exact phrase.
* “Wisconsin Home listings” – 697 competing pages for this exact phrase.
* “Central Virginia land listings” – 95 competing pages for this exact phrase.
* “north oaks minnesota home listings” – 233 competing pages for this exact phrase.

2. If you are an affiliate marketer, avoid researching the exact product that you want to promote. For example “candlestick holders.” Try using a single word like “holder” to determine exactly what type of “holders” are in highest demand with lowest competition. You may discover many other products – that you hadn’t thought of – with better windows of opportunity. Here are a few examples using the root word “holder.” Each phrase has under 10 competing pages. My research time, a mere 90 seconds -

* “motorcycle wheel holders” – KEI 676.0 – Competing pages on Google – 1
* ” southwest pot holders” – KEI 768.0 – Competing pages on Google – 3
* “hanging vine holder” – KEI 924.5 – Competing pages on Google – 2
* ” folbe fishing rod holder” – KEI 1156.0 – Competing pages on Google – 9
* “.30 Remington shell holder” – KEI 1444.0 – Competing pages on Google – 1

3. Try working with descriptive verbs, instead of researching a specific product. Using comprehensive search, try researching words like “new” or “old” or “rare” or “limited” or “reconditioned” or “polished” or “bronzed” or whatever. Use any type of descriptive terms to explore all kinds of interesting data.

Tune in for the final post

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Tips for finding Niche Keywords Part 1

These days, most search engine marketing companies have access to all the common research tools. For this post we’ll explore one of my all-time favourites, Wordtracker (You should all know the link). Let’s start with a short intro, and talk about solving some common keyword research problems. Then I’ll share some quick and easy “how to” tips that will help you find a profitable niche.

A few years ago, I wrote an post about Wordtracker. After publishing the post, I had the privilege of dealing directly with Wordtracker support, and answering all sorts of keyword related questions. I spent months teaching companies how to tap into keyword phrases, trends and niches. But the real treasure I discovered, is that many customers were not finding the best keywords, because of the natural tendency to “guess” at keywords, rather than open up and fully explore the existing data, to reveal a wealth of information along the way.

First tip: Stop guessing about keyword phrases that people “might” be entering into the search box.

One of the biggest hurdles is trying to “dictate to the data, which keywords that you ***THINK*** are most relevant, instead of letting the Wordtracker system reveal the best information to you. Look at it this way… if you think in the identical fashion that everyone else thinks – by relying on keywords that are already lodged in your mind based upon your experiences – then the more you will be thinking like the rest of your competition. The more we rely on our thinking process for keywords that “make the most sense” to our brains, the more we tend to discover exactly the same keywords, that the rest of the world is discovering and targeting. That’s why it’s easy to get disappointed and feel like there are no untapped niche phrases available. In this mindset, we find only limited results based on logical guess work. What this usually means is… huge numbers of competing pages, all trying to rank for deadly dull, obvious phrases.

You can build your SEO skills to compete in highly competitive phrases – and you can win the game too – but that’s not the point. A much wiser approach is to learn how to “think differently” and explore the data that 99% of the competition never will see or find. When you research single keywords using Wordtracker’s powerful comprehensive search functionality, you will discover multiple instances of how a specific word is being used within different phrases, but without any guess work at all. Try working with a single, action related “root word.” Now listen carefully. Your root word does not have to be a word that your logical thinking dictates. For example… what happens if you research a term in its most generic form, and let Wordtracker piece together HOW that word is being used. This is one of the rare times when using human brilliance – or natural logic – can actually prevent you from seeing the most powerful truths.

The next post will give you a few creative examples to get you started…

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