Tips for Selecting Effective SEO Keywords in Competitive Fields
Keyword research can be vital to the success of your website.
If you operate in a market with no or few competitors, it doesn’t really matter. People should be able to find your site if you just use common sense and let your website describe what you do.
However, in more competitive markets, it can be incredibly difficult to rank well for the keywords you think describe your products or services best – particularly if your website is still new.
You could be competing against hundreds, if not thousands, of other websites that are targeting the exact same keyword phrases as you. And it will be hard to outrank your competitors, because they may have many advantages over yours, such as:
- those websites may have been up for years and have ‘proven’ their worth;
- they may have many more pages of content than you do;
- they probably have a lot more incoming links to their site than you do.
Google and other search engines are bound to rank those websites higher than yours, which is only new, doesn’t have a lot of content yet and no or few incoming links – no matter how good your content is or how well you have optimised your site for those keywords.
If you start a new website, you have to be realistic with your expectations of SEO.
- The more general and popular a search term, the harder it will be to be able to rank for that phrase.
- Single keywords are way harder to rank for than keyword combinations of 2, 3 or 4 words.
What can you do to still get your website found?
- Find out what people type into search engines. Do keyword research (or have someone do the research for you) using a keyword research tool, so it’s not a guessing game but you actually KNOW what people are searching for. You can also ask people you know what they would type into a search engine if they were looking for the kinds of products or services you offer but didn’t know your company existed.
- Check out the competition. Type some of the relevant search phrases you have found into Google (within Australia, Google accounts for about 95% of all online searches) and see how many results you get. Check the relevance of the listings on the first couple of pages of results. Decide whether it’s worth it or even possible to compete on those phrases.
- Think of alternative keyword phrases. Many keyword research tools give suggestions for related words. You may hit upon a slightly different description that people use as well, but not many other websites are targeting. That’s your opportunity to optimise your site for that phrase and rank well for it.
- Target so-called ‘long-tail keywords’. These are longer and quite specific keyword phrases that maybe only a handful of people search for each month but have very little competition because not many other people have thought of optimising their sites for those phrases. Blogs are great for targeting long tail keywords because you can keep adding new pages that each target a different long-tail keyword phrase. The good thing is that because the keyword phrases are more specific, they often attract very targeted traffic so your conversion rate will be higher.
- Start small: Go local. Rather than immediately trying to capture the market in the entire country or world, consider starting small. Focus on your town, city, region or state. You’d be surprised how many people type in their location after a search phrase because they are looking for a business in their area. Targeting “web designer Newcastle”, for example, may get you more traffic than trying to rank well for just “web designer”, which has way too much competition. Remember to claim your Google Local Business listing and submit your site to local and regional directories. Once you are successful locally, it’s a natural progression to target a wider audience. Of course, this option may depend on the type of products or services you offer, but it’s often a good way to start.
So don’t despair if you can’t seem to outrank your competitors in the search results. Think of alternative ways to attract traffic. Add more pages (a blog is useful in that regard) and target more specific keyword combinations with each of them. Don’t forget to share your pages and blog posts on social media.
Need help optimising your website? I can do keyword research for you and help you target the most effective SEO keyword combinations. I can then optimise your pages for you. You should also consider these SEO ranking factors in addition to optimising your page content.