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Prioritisation the key to maximising profitability from SEO

By Danielle Wilmot, 5 March 2012

SEO now has a permanent place on the to-do list when it comes to planning marketing strategies to increase profits. Many businesses however, are still grappling with how to do it effectively and with enough skill to make a difference. In my experience working with more than 50 businesses in the last two years, inadequate resourcing, time and attention on SEO is a common experience. They key is to know how to identify your SEO priorities and focus on them.

Be pragmatic and prioritise keywords


A general understanding of SEO is that we first identify a keyword that we want our site to be found for, when users search on it. And then we optimise our site content, metadata and inbound links around it. Ideally this means we will end up ranking on the first page of the search engine results. For most businesses, the task is multiplied many times because their range of products and services, and therefore keywords, is numerous. However, not all keywords are of equal value to your business, so it’s essential to be pragmatic and prioritise, otherwise the “piece of string” becomes too long.


Consider the keyword family


Each keyword you rank for is an investment of your time resources and money, so keywords need to be analysed for their profitability, to make sure that you are investing in that capital wisely. Some keywords bring in more traffic while others convert better. Some are easier to rank for and others are more relevant to your products and services. Each core keyword has a corresponding keyword family that contains all the modifiers of the keyword. The search volume within this keyword family is likely many times larger than that of the keyword itself. Getting more granular can often give you a better chance to compete and rank well, while increasing relevance and quality traffic.


Identify hot targets


Sometimes these granular keywords, though individually they have a low volume of searches, are super specific to what you have to offer, so if you were to “own” just that keyword the financial benefit could be tremendous. A location modifier is an example for this, such as “business coach Newcastle” versus “business coach”. It pays to do a lot of research using Google’s keyword search tool and your own website analytics to identify your hot targets.


Consider your available content


Another factor in deciding where to spend your time and resources is the amount of content that you own and publish relating to the keywords under consideration. In Feb 2011, Google updated its search algorithm (known as Panda) to move better quality content to the top of its search rankings. The update affected 11.8% of all Google’s search queries. According to Google, “high quality content is content that you can send to your child to learn something”.
 

Produce quality content


But what specifically is meant by “quality content?” Expert SEO consultant and blogger Brian Ussery explains that content quality is determined through the combination of a myriad of factors; authority, purpose, scope, reliability, relevance, arrangement, treatment, recency, format and overall site credibility. Content creation for good SEO it seems, is a detailed science if you wish to cover all bases.

For most of us though, another way to approach SEO, is to simply focus on great writing. One of the ways to write naturally is to ignore the concept of SEO until after you have the first draft version of your page. From there, you can go back and add some variation to keyword ideas and cover additional keyword ideas. Do this, and take care to get all the basics right with your site; up-time, easy to use, easy to navigate, high page speed, privacy policy, secure pages and physical contact information etc.

Pay attention to poor quality signals such as duplicate content, pages that don’t align with other pages, broken links, missing alt attributes or incomplete pages. Content should be unique, factual, accurate, objective and use proper spelling and grammar. Low quality content on part of a site can impact a site’s ranking as a whole.


Keep content fresh


Google’s Panda update is concerned also with content freshness and what users think about a site. “Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it. This could be through blog posts, social media services, email, forums, or other means. Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.”


SEO and social work together


It is becoming clearer as time goes on that the lines between SEO and social media strategy are getting blurred. Inbound links from credible domains are an important part of improving your SEO rankings, as they count as votes for the value of your site content. Social “Likes” are becoming the new inbound links and are your pathway not only to getting more people to see and recommend your content, but also for search engines.


Claim authorship


Launched in June 2011, Google+ has become the social platform that you also can’t afford to ignore. People and Places on Google+ search results are yet another ranking to compete for and it influences your authority and credibility. To enhance your social identity, improve your search results and increase click through for those searches, you should officially claim you are the author of your content through authorship mark up and link it back to your Google+ business and/or personal profile. Add a bio page to your blog and complete your profile pages on all social mediums taking care to optimise these with your keywords also.

Social search is only getting started. Because search in the future will be personalised and results will be based on social recommendations, it is important to start building reach today. Historically most SEO work is focused on website optimisation and link building, so a focus on content development around your most profitable keywords, now more than ever can work to your competitive advantage. 


Consider a number of things when prioritising keywords:
 

  • Do the keywords terms/phrases have sufficient search volumes?

  • Are the chosen keyword terms highly relevant and specific enough to generate qualified traffic? 

  • What is the level of relative competition for your most important terms? Go for the low hanging fruit. 

  • Which terms do you have a competitive advantage in, or could you? 

  • Do you have quality content centred around the keyword? 

  • Do you have the ability to scale or fulfil demand? 

  • What is the profitability of the targeted product or service? 

  • What is the potential lifetime value of client who comes to your business through a keyword term?

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