Is it worth it to target these keywords? That should be the first question any potential SEO strategy answers. By evaluating your SEO and keyword competition, you can see how much work, and how expensive, it is to perform well for certain keywords.
Evaluating Your Keyword Competition During Research
The first step of any SEO strategy is performing keyword research. Many popular tools out there are commonly used to build a targeted keyword list, from the free Google Adwords External Keyword Tool to premium tools such as SEOmoz or SEMrush. Typically, the paid tools provide better research, including an examination of competitor backlinks and more up-to-date information about search volume trends. They are a recommended option especially early in site development when it’s crucial for your keywords to be high-performing to start realizing an early return on your investment.
Evaluating your Competition’s SEO
The next step after selecting easy-to-target keywords is to determine whether the existing pages targeting the keywords were built well, with good SEO in mind, or whether they’re inadvertently targeting the keywords with only one or two mentions in passing. If the keywords are in a highly-competitive niche, there are normally dozens of sites competing for the same keyword, and unless you can bring some SEO to the table that your competitors haven’t, you should start by picking lower-hanging fruit.
Finding Low-Hanging Fruit
The goal for early SEO optimization is to find easy-to-target keywords that bring in a reasonable amount of traffic. Look ideally for keywords that have high search volume but haven’t been discovered or targeted by professionally-optimized sites (not an easy task anymore though). It’s typically more expensive to target higher-traffic keywords, but a well-bankrolled project can start out targeting keywords that are more expensive than a start-up.
Another strategy with going after the low-hanging fruit is targeting long tail traffic. These are keywords that are typically 3-5 words long, and while they don’t get a lot of traffic, they are usually ultra targeted and convert better. And what happens is, you’ll generally see rankings and ROI quicker and, in the process, you build up your domain authority so you have a fighting chance of ranking for the more difficult keywords.
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I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!