Keyword selection is one of the fundamental elements of any strategic internet marketing program. You need to know what people are looking for and how your business will fit in. The principle is simple. How do you do that? Well, that’s where this core SEO task gets a little more complicated.
The first steps involve a business, site and industry analysis, followed by investigating related keywords for their raw traffic, competitiveness and SERP (Search Engine Results Page) 1 composition. If the client has a new or low-rank site, building links and creating content to target a keyword that searches to highly ranked sites on Google’s 1st SERP may be premature, unless the client has the budget to fully support that kind of undertaking.Nowadays we also have to watch for SERPs that are “salted” with heavy doses of Wikipedia, Youtube and other large social media networks and other go-to sites.
After taking these into account and editing our base keyword selections accordingly we’ll end up with a bunch of viable keywords: our “head” keywords. Below these are related keywords that generate less search volume. These are variations and semantic relatives of our head keywords. For example, if “purple widget” is a head term, “quality purple widget,” “”purple widget supplies” “violet widget” and “purple mechanism” are long tail variants. Research shows that long tail keywords drive more conversions and collectively make up a huge proportion of searches. The guy searching for “Suzuki” probably isn’t as focused on buying a car than the guy looking for “2004 Suzuki Sedans.”
So now we’re ready to go – or are we? Experience has taught us that there’s more to it than the “head” and “tail.” Above the “head” are keywords that, assuming a limited budget and a client with a newer site, we wouldn’t try to rank for. Now if these words are the roots of your head keywords you don’t have to worry about it much; your efforts for “purple widget” count toward “widget,” too. But when there are synonyms and unrelated variants up there consider going for those, too. Don’t do it at the expense of head keywords.Â We find that a variant of our long tail strategy works well to generate traffic from these above-head (hat?) terms.
Think of a pie metaphor. With head keywords you want the biggest piece of a decently-sized pie: SERP 1, where most clickthroughs go. With long tail keywords you want lots of pieces of smaller pies. With “hat” keywords you know you’ll get less of a share of the pie (i.e. not SERP 1), but it’s a bigger pie.
Lastly,Â going “over” realistic head keywords is a forward-looking part of your strategy. In addition to reaping traffic rewards you’re laying the groundwork for the next stage of your SEO, when those previously unattainable terms will be attainable.