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Research your SEO keywords wisely

Thu, 08/12/2011 - 16:45

We’ve been advising companies on search engine optimisation tactics for many years and in that time people have asked us to help secure rankings on some pretty strange keywords.

There are plenty reasons companies invest in SEO. For most, the decision is motivated by a desire to attract (and convert) new prospects using online channels. But for some, it appears that ego is the primary driver.

It’s always interesting working with the latter group. We had one CEO tell us that the reason he engaged Rogerwilco was because he wanted bragging rights with his industry peers.

For the most part, the ego crowd are established brands in the offline world who want a SERP ranking that reflects their above-the-line visibility. What many fail to realise, however, is that having a market dominant position offline isn’t the same thing as being the best answer for a search query online.

This is where keyword selection comes into play. Let’s say you’re in the residential property industry. You spend serious bucks on TV, radio and print commercials promoting the fact that you have the biggest selection of the best houses for sale in South Africa.

If you’re the biggest estate agency in the country, it would be natural for you to chase a keyphrase like ‘property for sale’. Or would it?

Securing a top three placement on broad keywords certainly has the potential to send a huge amount of traffic to your site. But is it the type of traffic that will convert?

Looking specifically at ‘property for sale’, Google’s keyword tool tells us that there are 368000 searches a month in South Africa. But are these people likely to convert into realistic prospects? The property market is actually driven by local searches – so there’s a much stronger case to be made for dominating niche searches. While ‘property for sale Durbanville’ might only attract 1 900 searches a month, they’re likely to be made by people who have intent to buy.

So while the company that dominates the ‘property for sale search’ market might get lots of traffic, the little guy who’s got top spot for ‘property for sale Durbanville’ is much more likely to be making money from his SEO.

We recently had a client tell us they wanted a number 1 ranking for the search query ‘safari’. Our immediate response was to ask why?

Was this an ego driven request, or was there really a commercial benefit at stake?

If budget’s not an issue then, with a lot of effort and a lot of time, it might be possible to get a top listing on such a broad head term. But few companies have unlimited budgets. And as most SEO programmes will come under scrutiny if they don’t deliver a reasonably quick return on investment, we’d probably end up with an unhappy client.

Before we kick off an SEO project we’ll conduct analysis to determine what benefits would accrue if a top ranking was secured. We’ll check out how competitive a phrase is (and who’s using it and how they’re using it) which gives us an ability to forecast the level of effort, the timeframe and the cost implications to achieve a top ranking.

Keyword analysis can be a time consuming process as there are so many factors to consider. You can have a look at our checklist of keyword research factors for more info.

In the specific instance of our ‘safari’ client, we figured pretty quickly that knocking Apple’s Safari browser off top spot would be a tough challenge. Instead, we steered them to a more realistic set of niche or long tail key phrases that would deliver a better outcome – both in terms of rankings and conversions.

If you’d like to have a general chat about how search engine optimisation can help you sell more for less or would like a free SEO audit, give us a call on +27 (0) 21 975 8181 or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you.