Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Guide to choosing correct search phrases

Search phrases are the words that users enter into search engines when they are searching for information on the WWW. Your website's online performance depends highly on how well it is aligned with relevant search phrases that generate quality traffic onto your website. Research has shown that most users do not browse past the third search engine results page (SERP), with the majority not even venturing past the 1st page. Therefore it should be the aim of all businesses whose online presence is vital to appear on the first SERP for relevant search phrases. For many online businesses, choosing the right search phrases can make or break you. We'll explore some of the common mistakes that we have seen over the years.

Avoid single word phrases

Single word phrases are a bad idea because they can be very general and too competitive. Most of us have realised by now that single word searches will return a long list of results, most of which aren't going to be what you were looking for. Remember when you first discovered Google and searched for "car" and it returned over 37 million results? Then you added another word or two to refine your results by entering the phrase "car auctions" which returned 213,000 results. Finally you enter the phrase "car auctions Central Coast" and received 46,000 results which make the task of finding exactly what you're looking for much easier.

Most single word phrases are also almost impossible to rank well for due to the sheer volume of websites competing for that spot. From our previous example, to rank well for "car", you will be competing against over 37 million other sites, but target "car auctions Central Coast" and your competition drops to just 46,000.
The word "car" is very general. Ranking well for this word will give you bragging rights, but it could prove to be of no value when it's not ranking well for "car auctions Central Coast". Yes, ranking well for "car" will most likely generate traffic to your website, however it will most likely NOT be what your visitors are looking for. The bottom line is not how much traffic you get, it's how many potential clients/customers visit your site (qualified traffic). Receiving a single potential client surely would be more valuable to you than 1000 random surfers looking for car repairers rather than car auctions.

Avoid phrases that are too specific

With the example above, we can conclude that the more specific the search phrase, the fewer results are found, and the less the competition for the search phrase. It's easier to rank well with less competition, however there is a catch. The more specific the search is, the fewer people will actually search for it. I'm sure you'll agree that your #1 ranking for "car auctions on Mann St Gosford Central Coast" would be of very little value. To avoid choosing phrases that are too specific, one must analyse and evaluate the popularity of the search phrases.

Avoid highly competitive phrases

You might have found a phrase that is both popular and relevant to your website, but if competition is too high, your SEO investment's ROI could be extremely low. A good SEO expert will be able to determine whether it's in your best interest to aim for certain phrases after conducting a competitor analysis. Pouring money to target a search phrase that is not going to rank your website within the first 2 pages is equivalent to pouring money down the drain. Try to aim for a more specialised or niche phrases.

Concluding thoughts

The main task when choosing your search phrases is to find those that are relevant to the products or services you are offering on your website, and popular enough that the average users will be using it to search with. At the same time, you must keep in mind not to select phrases that are too competitive that your website won't be able to rank well with the budget you have.

These criteria outlined in this article are no big secret; there is an abundance of blogs and articles that point these out. The secret really lies in developing the skills to be able to determine where all of these criteria intersect. If you feel like you need some help in increasing your website's online presence, please feel free to contact us.

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