Set Aside Your Ego and Set Reasonable Keyword Goals

*This is a guest post by Nick  LeRoy*

Everyone wants to rank number one for trophy keywords within their industry.  What they fail to realize is that rankings for these terms is not always the best.  While traffic sent to your site is important it isn’t nearly as important as conversions.  Think about it this way, would you rather have 10,000 visitors visit your site and only 50 convert or have 200 visitors and 100 convert?  Traffic is important but conversions should always be your top focus.

Ranking For Trophy Keywords

Trophy or ‘money’ keywords are what I refer to as any keyword that drives a ton of traffic but is also extremely competitive.  I have already mentioned that traffic does not always equate to high conversions but some people don’t seem to care.  When you’re attempting to rank for trophy keywords it’s very important to analyze your competition.  Below are three things you must look at.

  1. Competitor Site Size – Take a look at the top 5 websites ranking for your trophy keyword.  How many pages do they have indexed?  Is it substantially more then your site?  Granted size doesn’t have a direct effect on rankings but typically the larger the site the more authority it can generate.  Site size may not be an element but site authority is a ranking element.  If your website has ten pages and all your competitors have thousands of pages you know that you could be at a serious disadvantage.
  2. Competitor Links – Links arguably have the largest impact on search engine rankings but it’s not a ‘more equals better’ algorithm.  With this in consideration it’s still important to see how many and what type of links your competitors have. Are all of them simply ‘www’ domain links? Do the links contain keywords within the anchor text?  Are they “no-follow”?  All of this has a direct effect in the value of each link.  If your competitors have significantly more links and are of higher value then yours you should know that it will be difficult to rank for this keyword.  This is a very important analysis to conduct before you go after your trophy keywords.
  3. Frequently Updated Content – This goes hand in hand with site size but I believe it’s important to have its own bullet point.   What type of frequently updated content does your competition offer?  Do they have a message board? Blogs? Articles? All of these are fantastic sources for frequently updated content.  Most of the time it’s these articles, blogs, and message boards that help generate the quantity of links that a site may have.  Also make sure to note what type of content they are writing and who is linking to it.  If you can improve upon what they already have then you too could gain links through frequently updated content.

Trophy Keyword Alternatives

You’ve done the research and you finally realized that it’s not in your best interest to compete with the big boys.  What else are you left with? You would be surprised how much easier it is to focus on ‘long term’ or ‘long tail’ keywords.  Instead of ranking for the keyword “shoes” you can focus on “size twelve Nike shoes”.  Yes these types of keywords may not drive as much traffic as the trophy keywords but it definitely brings in more qualified traffic.  A more qualified lead increases your chances of making a conversion, which should be everyone’s priority when trying to sell a product/service.  The best part about ranking for ‘long tail’ keywords is that if you find enough of these easier to rank keywords you can drive just as much traffic to your website then focusing on a single trophy keyword.

Set Your SEO Ego Aside

A lot of pride can be placed on a top ranking trophy keyword.  However the goal is to drive traffic and most importantly convert the traffic into customers.  Don’t let your ego get the better of you.  Know what your website offers and its strengths.  Compare your site to your competitors and sit down and figure out the best strategy available to you.  If you know that you aren’t going to be able to compete with the big boys then don’t fool yourself.  It might just be a waste of your time attempting to rank for these trophy keywords as your competitors already have a big lead.   Don’t get me wrong, anyone can rank for any keyword it’s just how much money, time, and hard work they want to put into their campaign.  So set your SEO ego aside and truly decide which route is best for your site.

Nick LeRoy is the Search Marketing Specialist at Minneapolis Web Design firm DKS Systems.  DKS offers award winning web design and development that can be very SEO friendly.