In the first installment of this article we tackled the questions that need to be answered to quickly assess a key phrase to determine whether there's a chance to rank highly on that phrase.
We addressed the first two questions:
Does this phrase leverage existing organic optimization?
Does this phrase have commercial intent?
The third question addresses the level of competition on your chosen key phrase.
Does This Phrase Have The Appropriate Competition Levels?
The way most SEOs determine whether a phrase is possible to optimize is by examining the on-page and off-page factors of the first 10 listings on the search results page for that phrase. This approach attempts to evaluate some of the most important metrics that we've discovered over the years that impact search phrase ranking.
Note: This continues to evolve, and Google's ongoing algorithm changes could possibly change this overall approach.
Let’s take a look at some of those on-page and off-page factors that historically have been important to Google when they consider which pages to load into search results pages.
- Page URL: Is your primary keyword or phrase in the page URL?
- Page Title: Is your primary keyword/key phrase found in the page title, preferably close to the beginning of the tag?
- Page Description: Is your primary keyword/key phrase found in the sales copy of your description tag?
- Page Heading 1: Your primary keyword/key phrase should be found in the tag on your page.
- Page Headings 2: Do you have well defined tags that segment your content on your page?
- Keyword Proximity: Do you use your phrase within the textual content on your page in strategic positions?
- Image Alt Tags: Do you use alternative descriptions for your page images?
Most Importantly: Do you have content that your prospect actually wants to consume?
- Domain Age: How long has your domain been in existence?
- Index Count: How many pages on your site have been indexed in the search engines?
- Citation Flow: Similar to Google Page Rank, but measures a web page’s importance.
- Trust Flow: Measure of a web page’s authority/trustworthiness.
- Referring Domains: Number of unique domains with back links pointing to your domain.
- Referring Domains - Page: Number of unique domains with back links pointing to a specific page.
- Page Back Links: Number of links pointing to a specific URL/page.
- Domain Back Links: Total number of external back links pointing to all pages on a site.
Understanding what your competitors are doing to occupy the first 10 listings on Google will largely determine whether you will be able to successfully compete on your chosen phrase. Or if the phrase is critically important to your business, you will have a good idea of the necessary work and investment to earn that success.
Remembering that the purpose of this article is to help you, as a business owner or marketing director, make timely decisions on the pursuit of phrases in your organic optimization programs, here's a tool that can help you make those initial evaluations. There are other tools that can be deployed to dive deeper, but the cost is far greater, and not warranted at this point in the process.
Invest $149 in a copy of Market Samurai. This tool will give you some initial insights that you’ll need to make better decisions. Should you rely totally upon this tool when making final decisions on keyword optimization choices? No, but it does a great job at the beginning of the decision-making process. It’s a worthy tool for business owners, and non-SEO professionals.
Keyword Research Insights Summary
Think through the following:
- Is your phrase a good fit for your overall organic search strategy?
- Is there commercial intent on the phrase?
- Is the competitive level such that you can reasonably expect a level of success?
On the other hand, you might just want to find yourself one of those full-blown keyword research analysts when inspiration strikes.