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How Keyword Research Can Make or Break Your Business

Link-Assistant.Com | Posted in category GuestBox

guest post by Paul

Trying to work out how strong your competitors are is one of the hardest parts of SEO. When I first got into internet marketing I couldn't believe how little documentation there was on how to do it, to me it felt like a minefield with no exact answers and plenty of blind alleys. Over the years though I feel like I've gotten much better at evaluating which sites have a strong strategy for getting to the top of the results and which are just hoping for the best. To me the difference between a great SEO strategy and poor one is giving search engines all the signals that they expect to see for a quality site, after all if it was just one thing wouldn't everyone be doing it?

When I start keyword research I always look at the top 5 results for the keyword I want to go for. Looking at just the No1 site isn't advisable because there can be anomalies in just one piece of data that can allow you to think a keyword is harder or easier than it really is. At the other end of the scale I see people gathering the profiles for the top 100 sites, this is too much data to work with, what you want most of all is an overview. Remember keyword research and evaluating the competition isn't an exact science.

So first I want to use SEO SpyGlass to download the link profiles of the top 5 sites to give me an idea of who is linking to them. What I really want to look at in the link profile is the overall diversity of the links they are getting. One clue of a weak profile is that most of their links are coming from the same place, now I don't mean the same site but the same types of sites. E.g. are most of the links coming from forums, or are they all from social bookmarking sites? Search engines love diversity because when a genuinely good site turns up people talk about it on lots of different mediums, remember people are random but so often manual link building campaigns are not. You also want to drill down into the context of these links, are they relevant to the page they are on? Where on the page are they located? The best kind of link is anchored into a related article on a relevant site with few other outgoing links, in fact it's these kind of references I look for ahead of high PageRank links.

I believe anchor text is also still a factor when it comes to analysis but probably not as important as it was. Instead of just looking for the exact search phrase try to get a feel for the number or related anchor phrases they have pointing back to them. For example I believe search engines can tell that the phase "seo tools" and "seo software" mean the same thing so try to group those together. To summarize, what I'm really doing with my analysis of the profile is getting a running count of all the "good" links that I see while ignoring the bad. Of course you can go much deeper than this but as mentioned it's not an exact science and you could end up running in circles as you overdose on too much data.

Once I've finished checking sites profiles in SEO SpyGlass I want to get an overall view of the content on the top 5 sites. To start I want to classify the sites into two distinct categories:

1.       Is the result a single page on the site about this phrase? So quite often you get a powerful authority domain that has just created a few hundred words on this subject and its ranking mainly because of their overall domain authority.

2.       Is the whole site about this topic? So this site may have less authority on a domain level but are ranking because they have a lot of related content, i.e. they could have hundreds of articles focused on this keyword phrase and the market as a whole.

This may surprise some but I always think category 1 (authority site with one page) will be easier to beat. This is because I think search engines know this site is not the most relevant (because it has only 1 page on the subject) but it’s a safe pair of hands, i.e. very unlikely to be a spam. But I also know that the engines love content and if you can create lots of quality relevant content along with a few good links you have a real chance of becoming important enough to hit No1.

As you can see keyword analysis of your competitors can still be pretty confusing, especially if you’re just getting into this marketing business. After all one of the largest factors is your own ability in promoting your site, some marketers will have more experience/skill/resources than others and so take on niches that others will pass on. Fundamentally though I believe if you focus on creating something of quality that people value then eventually search engines are going to catch up and put you were you deserve to be. As for evaluating the competition, once all the analysis is done only you can make the decision to jump in or not, just make sure you can swim first :-)

About the Author

Paul is an internet marketer who specialises in SEO. He has a new blog at earning money online which teaches the basics of internet promotion and also tips on how to make money with your site once you get it to the top of the market.

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