In the early stages of SEO, there was often a focus on one “big traffic keyword” that would drive impressions through high search frequency.
It can surely work to rank well for a competitive keyword if SEO was properly implemented, but this approach has one very important, dangerous downside.
If anything changes in the Google algorithm that determines rankings, a one-keyword-focus can turn into a death trap. As soon as Google picks up on the link building pattern, wherein the same keyword re-emerges and points to your site, your site gets penalised. Google renders repetitive link patterns inorganic and blocks the source, as a result of which your pages may drop in rankings, or may be de-indexed. This effectively equals an exclusion from Google search results.
How do I avoid Google penalties?
The solution is simple. Don’t try to rank for competitive keywords at the very top, but target a wide range of keywords, specialised in location and type. Other than stability and pre-empting algorithm update issues, there is another very good reason for a multiple-keyword-strategy. Google research shows that people aren’t finding what they are looking for when they search for broad terms. Over the last 15 years, about 15% of daily Google queries (currently ca. 500 million) have never appeared before, and no matter how smart the Google Knowledge Graph gets, it still doesn’t function like a human brain. Specialised, long-tail keywords are thus a great means to target a small, yet invaluable, group of converting customers that would otherwise get lost in the flood of irrelevant information thrown at them. Given the short average attention span, they might lose interest in your product/service without converting.
What does this mean in practice?
Let’s exemplify the above. A fictional European cheese deli in Ponsonby, Auckland, optimises its pages to rank for the keyword “buy cheese”. It competes with a lot of businesses for this keyword, for example cheese manufacturers, food directories, restaurants et cetera; locally, nationally as well as internationally.
The target market for this business is – broadly speaking – individual, cheese-eating gourmets, who live in the relative vicinity of Ponsonby. It is therefore not necessary to compete on such high keyword levels, as the vast majority of queries for “buy cheese” originate nowhere near Ponsonby, from retailers, or private customers interested in cheap, local cheeses.
The limited demographic of our example business have mentally already worked their way through the keyword structure and might search for “buy European cheese” or “buy cheese delicatessen Auckland” or “European cheese Ponsonby”.
Those keywords are both localised and specialised, and while not many people will search for each individual one, the numbers add up through width and further specialisation. Also, the conversion rate for specialised local searches is significantly higher, because in a lot of cases the purchase or action has been premeditated, and the search was performed with a clear conversion target in mind.
We recommend AdWords as paid search tool for tracking keywords that convert the most desired action. This could be a purchase for an e-commerce website, or a phone call for a service provider. AdWords also allows you to access keywords data labelled ‘Not Provided’.
This category includes data from users signed into their Google accounts, which is otherwise unobtainable. Whatever your specific business needs are, we are here to help you tailor a winning strategy.16 April 2014