This is the first of a set of articles on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by guest author Galen Sonntag. SEO is a series of activities that are performed on your website pages to help search engines properly identify and index the content on your site’s pages that have high value to your site visitors. A couple of points to emphasize in the previous sentence: content, pages, and visitors. Good SEO practices do more than just bring traffic to your pages. It brings high quality traffic with an interest in your site content. To do otherwise would be a waste of effort on your part. It all starts with good useful content that web users want to access, and then helping them find your site.
1. Keyword Selection
SEO is a keyword (or key phrase, or search phrase) driven process. With well chosen keywords, you improve your chances of getting good search engine rankings and good traffic. You must put the time and effort into a thorough keyword selection process which will put you on your way to attracting the right traffic.
2. Relevance, Volume & Competition
There are three dimensions to well chosen keywords. These are relevance, search volume and competition. Relevance is how meaningful is the term to your content and your marketing plan? This takes the knowledge of your business and your industry into account. Search volume is how many people are searching for the term via search engines? Is there a market for the term? Competition is how many web pages are you competing with for the same keywords?
The ideal combination is high relevance, high search volume, and low competition. In this list of key factors, high relevance is the MUST. If the term is not valuable to your business, your website content, it is not worth optimizing for. Choosing low relevance keywords is the same as any other poor marketing activity, a waste of time and money. If competition is high, it will be difficult to get top placement in the search engines. If demand, or search volume, is low, it fits into the category of “who cares”. You, and your marketing team, are the best suited to decide relevance of the keywords. Search volume and competition can be measured by a number of tools that are available on the market.
3. Keyword Testing
Testing for search volume and competition can be performed best with SEO optimization software tools, but there is a free method which provides reliable results as well. The best free tool for this is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. The Google database is the best source for testing against.
Add your keywords and use attributes that describe your product to generate variants and alternatives for testing. Adding additional descriptive terms to “root” keywords is called long-tail keywords. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool will display a wide range of search terms, the search volumes, and competition for the terms. Look for terms you have already determined to be relevant (this is your subjective decision making) and then view the competition and search volume from the Keyword Tool. This will add the objective measurement to narrow down your search terms for optimization to those that you can gain traffic from.
The next article in this series will focus on the Keyword Discovery Process which is used to generate new and useful search terms.
About the Author: Galen Sonntag is the principle member of Sonntag Search Marketing. Galen has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Lewis Clark State College in Idaho, where he attended on a baseball scholarship, an MBA from the University of Saskatchewan, and a Diploma in Internet Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Several of the companies Galen has done work with include ABEX award winners for Marketing and Business Growth as well as the STEP Exporter of the Decade Award. Galen has been directly involved in all aspects of these companies marketing and business strategy including Market leadership, advertising, online marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, growth strategies, and marketing budgeting. Galen has lived in Saskatchewan most of his life.