Search Engine Ranking
Friday, December 3rd, 2010
Researching keywords can be challenging. A large part of the challenge is NOT with doing the actual research, but with equipping yourself with the right tools. For developers, it’s a pretty lucrative business. There’s a handful of keyword ranking and research tools on the market available. I am not here to judge or review them. But I am here to tell you that you CAN successfully research keywords without having to invest a penny into software. Ironically, Google provides all of the tools you need in order to research and determine which keyword you should, or shouldn’t target for earning profits. Here’s a list of four free Google SEO tools and how to properly use them for researching keywords.
Google Wonder Wheel
I have posted about Wonder Wheel a few times here on this blog. It’s a great tool for people like me who need a visual aid. It’s simple to use. Plug in a primary keyword, click search, and then the Wonder Wheel loads related keywords based on your query. This allows you to drill down to some of those “lesser popular” and keyword phrases that harbor hidden wealth.
Example: Brain Surgery >> Brain Tumor Surgery >> Brain Tumor Surgery Pictures
One of the reasons why I find Wonder Wheel to be useful is because it gives me a visual on keywords. It may be my personality, perhaps it’s due to my raging case of adult ADHD, but whatever the reason may be, Google Wonder Wheel helps me a lot with finding keywords and phrases that have the potential to warrant further research.
Google Insights for Search
Google Insights for Search is another visual seo tool I enjoy using. It allows me a way to gain perspective on how much traffic certain keywords receive. The trick is to compare the keyword phrase to another keyword phrase that you know about. Last week I posted a write up about this on my blog comparing John Chow to Salt Water Fish Tanks.
The theory is that John Chow is relatively popular. If you’re familiar with his blog, then generally speaking, you have a feel for the amount of traffic his site gets based on activity and popularity. When you compare his name against an unknown keyword phrase, you get a visual perspective on what you would expect if you have top ranking from the researched keyword phrase being queried.
Example: John Chow score = 36 | Brain Tumor Surgery Pictures = 0
In this case, I would stop research on this keyword phrase because it doesn’t even register on the graph when compared to John Chow. In other words, if I build a page targeting the keyword phrase Brain Tumor Surgery Pictures, I can expect to receive little to no traffic. If Google Insights reported a score comparable to John Chow then I could have expected to receive close to the same amount of traffic.
Google AdWords Keyword Tool
I have referenced to the AdWords Keyword Tool many times on this blog. This is yet another excellent visual seo tool provided by Google. It has similar qualities to Google Wonder Wheel, but offers much more insight, and instant “in your face” data.
Just like Wonder Wheel, the AdWords Keyword Tool offers suggested alternative keywords and phrases. Additionally, the tool gives reference to the level of competition, number of monthly searches, and monthly traffic trends.
Example: Brain Tumor Surgery Pictures >> 80% Competition Saturation >> 36 Global Monthly Searches >> Unregistered Traffic Trends.
This example confirms the conclusion determined with Google Insights. The keyword phrase Brain Tumor Surgery Pictures does NOT get any traffic. The additional information we have on the keyword phrase reveals that it’s also a very competitive keyword phrase. In other words, people are bidding on this keyword like crazy, but they’re failing to get any traffic from it. This additional data derived from the AdWords Keyword Tool reveals further that this particular keyword phrase is NOT worth attempting to rank for.
Google AdWords Campaign Creation
This is what I call the “Proof in the Pudding” tool. Let’s assume that you found a great keyword phrase to try to rank for. It has a very low amount of competition and a very high amount of traffic. The only missing ingredient is determining how much money you could potentially make after achieving top rank for the keyword phrase. There are seo tools that can help you make this determination; however, I like to get the data straight from the horses mouth.
Brain Tumor Surgery Pictures >> First Page Bid Estimate: $0.90
To get a perspective on how much you could potentially profit from gaining top rank, take a moment to create an AdWords campaign. Doing so will reveal the “minimum bid amount” needed to gain top placement in AdWords sponsored listings. The data gives you perspective on how lucrative this particular niche topic is, and also based on the AdSense Revenue Share, you can pinpoint how much to expect to get paid per AdSense click.
Doing keyword research can be challenging, but also too, it can be quite fun and rewarding. The trick is cross referencing between different tools and looking for consistencies in order to draw conclusions. If you’re an online publisher like me who generates revenue using AdSense, then it’s important to make sure three elements match each time prior to building pages that target keywords. The keyword phrase is question needs to have a decent amount of traffic, low amount of competition, and a decent yield for profit. Using these four tools together will allow you to find untapped keywords worthy of targeting. If you have questions, or need further assistance, I welcome your comments below.
Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
Almost every time the topic of article marketing comes up in SEO circles, there are people who roll their eyes and scoff at the technique. They say it’s outdated, time-consuming, and ineffective. I say they don’t know what they’re doing.
I can tell you from firsthand experience that article marketing absolutely gets results. Within just a few months of doing some article marketing for my own website (www.ericbrantner.com), I’ve seen my site jump significantly in the search rankings. For example, I’m now ranking in the top 3 for the term “freelance copywriter.” Before I started with my article marketing efforts, I was somewhere in the 100s, like on page 10 of the search results. The same thing goes for several other keywords I’m targeting.
Thanks to these article marketing efforts, my vastly improved rankings are now getting me several quality leads every week from search engine traffic. In short, business is better than ever before, and it’s due in large part to article distribution.
And I’m not the only one. I have several colleagues who I’ve witnessed use article marketing to propel their rankings.
Simply put, I know article marketing still works. I’m experiencing its benefits every day. So why are there people out there who claim otherwise? Why haven’t they been as successful as I have with article marketing?
- No plan—Before you even start writing and distributing articles online, you need to have a plan. What exactly do you want to accomplish with article marketing? How often are you going to publish articles? Which directories are you going to target? Which keywords are you focusing on? You don’t have to get super specific in your plan, but you should have a basic outline to keep your article marketing efforts focused.
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Immediately after I caught wind of Google Instant, I started researching and observing the reactions from other people within the SEO community. If you haven’t heard about Google Instant yet, let me brief you quickly:
Direct from Google:
“Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.”
You can read more about Google Instant here.
Much like any of the past changes that occurs with Google, many people who have a vested or personal interest in SEO tend to get concerned. I honestly feel the pain, especially when there are situations that I feel will have a profound affect on my own SEO business ventures. The key concern is if Google Instant will Kill SEO? To give some remote rest to your mind, I am one who doesn’t think it will. That said, I do, however, think it will create purge effect on how SEO’s approach their goals.
In this post, I’d like to publish my thoughts on how I think Google Instant will change SEO. The points I make both bring opportunities as well as challenges to the table. The newly found opportunities, I feel, are things that were once challenges, and ironically, the things that typically came easy in the past, are actually things that I now believe are going to become challenges. In all honestly, I see it as simple as that. Nothing less, and nothing more.
To begin with, I feel it’s now more important than ever to make sure that your listings ranks above the top fold, and look good. Google Instant is all about helping speed things up for people. In part of this process, Google Instant places a lot of focus on keeping people off the second and third page results. Instead of viewing additional pages, Google is directing people to adjust their query in the search bar. So, when your listing does pull up in a predicted query result, it’s vitally important that it pulls up above the top fold and looks appealing. Publishers should revisit the first few sentences of their content. Especially, the content directly below header tags. Also, meta descriptions should be looked at as well.
As mentioned above, Google Instant is being advertised as something that will help speed up searches. But, in my opinion, this is also something that Google has developed to help increase AdWords revenue. If part of their goal is to keep people off the second and third page results, then that inadvertently places an increased focus on sponsored listings. So, if you focus on ranking well in organic search, this is going to make your job a little more difficult simply because the sponsored ads are going to look even better than before.
On the contrary, Google Instant may be useful for search engine marketers simply because it reveals the keywords Google is suggesting to users. Basically, this gives marketers a roadmap on precisely which keywords to target. Doing a basic search for single keyword reveal the most popular long-tail keyword phrases suggested. From there, these popular long-tail keyword phrases can be investigated to see if it’s worth the effort to target.
Another reason why Google Instant can offer great opportunities for online publishers who monetize their content is because people who formally have been bidding on long-tail keywords in AdWords may soon conclude that they will need to start bidding on more primary keywords and phrases due to the fact that their existing long-tail targeted ads may take a dip in exposure. In other words, publishers who have the resources and ability to pull organic rankings for keywords higher up the food chain may start to see a higher the payoff than before.
Another benefit to Google Insight is that it’s being marketing as a service that caters to less computer savvy people. Inadvertently, this means that people who choose to use the service are also more likely to be what I call, “Click Happy.” In other words, you may start to discover that the traffic Google Instant sends your way will be more of people who are unaware of what is user generated content and what is contextual ad based content. In other words, the traffic that Google Instant sends your way can very well lead to a higher concentration of “Click Happy” people. This is great for people who monetize their sites with programs such as AdSense.
Ultimately, it’s my opinion that Google has created a system that does allow people to save time performing searches. But I feel that it’s also a system that allows people to think less for themselves. It’s a system that influences people by offering suggestions towards what to search for. Secondly, it’s a system that optimizes sponsored listings and ultimately helps Google continue to increase revenue with AdWords. This again is due to the increased probability that users will click on the sponsored listings instead of the organic ones.
All that said, I believe that Google Instant will make SEO easier as well as more difficult at the same time. The simple fact that Google reveals the most popular keyword phrases allows SEO’s to know exactly which keywords to chase. Simple research based on these discoveries will allow SEO’s to determine if it’s worth their time to target them.
Another thing to consider is that it is now very important to focus less on targeting broader ranges of keyword terms within your content. This is something that I have already been doing for many years. In other words, in most cases, what you see in my <title></title>, <H1></H1>, and <H2></H2>, are typically the actual keyword phrases I am targeting. On the contrary, many other marketers tend to focus on targeting secondary keywords within their content as well. In the past, this has proven to work quite well. The way I feel about that is basically, content is material, and just like with any job, it’s always best to control the amount of resources consumed to complete a goal or task. Writing content is a controllable business expense. So, in the past, publishers could easily kill two birds with stone, by targeting multiple keywords and phrases in one copy. Again, many years ago, this was a focus of mine as well. But, in recent years I have decided to write content with the sole purpose of ranking for specific keywords I want, and let the chips fall where they may on anything extra.
Prior to Google Instant, I know that my content did attract an undetermined amount of traffic inadvertently through secondary long-tail keyword targeting. However, I feel now it’s more important than before to place more focus on targeting primary keyword phrases per page rather than both. Once again, the reason being is that people are going to be more critical when it comes to clicking on the results shown. People will be more susceptible to click on listings that have an exact title and description match to the keyword phrase being searched. My point is this. I think that Google Instant will cause publishers to write more content in order to continue experiencing success with gaining traffic organically. The issue at hand is not ranking top fold for the keywords, but more so with attempting to control and mold how Google displays the listing organically. In other words, I feel more content will need to be written in order to customize the results in a way that continues to appeal to people.
On the same note of difficulty, I also think Google Instant may actually makes things more challenging for SEO’s simply for the fact that popular keywords are going to have a surge of newly added competition. Because popular phrases and long-tail keywords are now visible to everyone, the job for ranking for these terms may become more difficult as they are no longer a speculation or even mystery. Now that these predicted search queries are visible, there will be an increase in the number of people targeting them.
Overall, it’s easy to see the debate regarding Google Instant. Will it kill SEO? I am one who doesn’t think so. However, I do believe that it will cause people to adjust their approach. I see Google Instant as something that will bring many things forward that were once difficult. And I see it as being something that will push back the things that were once easy. All in all, I don’t think Google Instant is an SEO killer, but more so an SEO purge. Meaning, anyone is the business of SEO needs to recognize that things can and will change. Further more, those who continue or begin to find success are those who accept, adapt, and adjust to change. These same rules apply largely to any form of business, or general life experience. Change is good. And success comes to those who easily adapt and adjust to it.
What are your thoughts? Is Google Instant a Dream Come True or a Nightmare For SEO?
Friday, July 30th, 2010
After blogging for over three years I have learned a lot of things about search engine marketing and keyword ranking. And one of the things that I have learned is that it really doesn’t take a lot of content to rank for keywords in Google. Granted, there are a lot of contributing factors towards ranking for keywords, but I am finding that the amount of content written doesn’t really hold too much weight in the equation.
Content adds quality to a page. It adds value, and typically, it provides people with what they are looking for. I believe that that is what Google and other search engines seek. They seek, index, and rank pages that they feel will be important to people. In doing so, that makes their search engine favorable because people find what they need. So, in most cases, as a publisher, writing content is what’s needed to achieve ranking. But the question remains, “How much content is needed?” Many publishers feel like a lot is required, when in many cases, it’s not.
A large amount of content isn’t always necessary to achieve ranking. Content is very important, but publishers should be aware that thousands of words on a page isn’t always required to achieve keyword ranking. The point I’m aiming to get across here is that writing content is difficult, takes a lot of time, and requires a lot effort. So, putting in more resources than what’s needed is a waste. With many jobs, it’s the duty of managers to control costs and expenses, to manage payroll and control hours, and oversee that excessive materials are not being used to complete the job.
The same should apply with content writing and search engine ranking. Don’t assume that content is always “King” when it comes to targeting keywords in Google and other search engines. I have learned that the “King” is with identifying alternative keywords and phrases that have low levels of competition with high search counts. The second part is identifying what it will take to rank above the existing competition on the search result page.
When you have it set in your mind that you want rank for certain keywords and phrases, take time to study your competition on the search results page. Ask yourself, “How did they rank for this keyword?” and investigate. Once you discover how your competition achieved their ranking, then you will have a better idea of knowing how much of your own resources you’ll need to use towards ranking above them.
My point is this: The amount of content is only a small factorization in the equation of search engine ranking. Content is much like butter on toast, milk in cereal, or sugar in coffee. Content really only adds flavor to a page. And with keyword ranking, it’s your job to figure out the ingredients needed to make toast, cereal, and coffee. After you do that, then you’ll know exactly how much butter, milk, and suger to add.
Friday, October 2nd, 2009
Back in May of 2009, Google launched Search Options, which is the side panel that lets you apply filters and view search results in different ways. This might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but Google actually put in quite a few long years into the development of this technology. The concept surfaced in 2001 and was later unveiled in May of 2007 as universal search. Fast forward two years, and today we have very enhanced and beefed up search options available at only a few mouse clicks away.
So you may be wondering what can you do with the new search options. The simple answer: a lot! The better question to ask would be what can’t you do with the new search options. The more important question to ask yourself – assuming you’re a site owner interested in increasing organic search traffic – is how can I enhance my SEO to capitalize on these new features. Let’s look at a few of the new features and then I’ll offer some suggestions on how to take advantage of them.
The search options available are as follows: All results, videos, news, blogs, books, forums, reviews.
Additionally, you can add these filters to the first six: Any time, recent results, past hour, past 24 hours, past week, past year, specific date range.
On top of that, you can then filter your view: Standard view, related searches, wonder wheel, and timeline.
The last filter allows you to change your view even further: Standard results, images from the page, fewer shopping sites, more shopping sites, and more text.
So now that we’ve broken down the search options and defined each filter, let’s talk about some SEO tips. Here are a few things that you can do to make the most of the new search options in Google.
Videos: Creating and uploading a videos in YouTube and embedding them in your web pages will increase your chances of pulling up in the video results.
On video sites, such as YouTube, be sure to put the URL of your web page into the description. People as well as spiders will be able to travel from the YouTube video page to your web page. Both activities influence your web pages rankings.
Blogs: Creating and maintaining a blog, and publishing unique and high quality content related to your brand, business, products, and services can help you increase your chances gaining top ranks when users filter and show blog results only.
Don’t discount the possibility of running multiple blogs. The cost and time invested into maintaining blogs is much less than most people believe. Also, I recommend running blogs using multiple platforms. For example, you should have a blog on self-hosted WordPress, WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and LiveJournal. Lastly, I suggest that each blog appear independent and seperate from the others.
The most successful blogs are blogs that grow off the reader’s activity and contributions. Try to write content in a way that captures attention and makes readers feel compelled to take an action. The desireable actions you seek are backlinks, comments, and social network sharing. These are all activities that influence how well your blog post ranks for keyword phrases in search. Also, content can be carefully shaped and molded in a way to attract the attention of people as well as search engines. And that leads to my next tip.
Reviews: Adjusting your writing style can influence your chances of ranking in the reviews only section. Google looks for common writen trends that typically reflect written reviews, such as product reviews. Spend some time studying the content on some of the pages found in the search results and adapt some of their style into yours.
Index Frequency: You should constantly monitor how quickly new content gets indexed from your site. If content gets indexed within a few minutes of publishing, then you should take advantage of that and publish more content. I recommend publishing new content immediately after the most recent content has been indexed. In other words, everytime web crawlers come back to your site, you should have new content ready to be crawled for indexing. Doing so will increase your chances of pulling up in after the past hour, past 24 hours, and past week filter has been applied.
Another obvious reason why I recommend posting new content as frequently as possible is because doing so places your mark in hundreds and in many cases thousands of search result pages. A great pioneer in this strategy is Chris Pirillo. He has multiple blogs, forums, and sites, each being updated almost hourly. Secondly, these updates aren’t done just by hired or team writers. Most of the updates are user generated content. Chris Pirillo’s earns revenue by displaying contextual advertisements off the content created by community members within his network.
Adjusting how you do things and puting yourself more in-line, and in the same direction as Google, can make a significant difference in the amount of organic search traffic your site receives. Just being aware and perceptive of how Google presents information to users via their search results alone can help a lot. And with these new search options available, instantly there is a new resource of traffic that you can be tapping into.