What is your Link Building Strategy? Long-Tail (multiple keywords), Short-Tail (specific keyword groups) or Highly Competitive Terms?
For the short/condensed version of this post click here or read on for the long version.
Are you looking in the right places for important keyword phrases that deliver relevant traffic to your pages? Are the keywords you target overly competitive and worth the effort or moderately competitive? (and attainable) What is your goal?, a few high ranking positions (which could takes months to a year) or several less competitive keywords that can yield a steady flow of traffic immediately? or is it a combination of the most searched keywords that you are targeting with your optimization strategy?
As an SEO Company, our job is to look for holes in the competition. Chances are your overlooking positioning opportunities that if coupled properly with a bit of off page promotion, could yield hordes of long tail traffic. Competitive keywords may be great at the end of the day, but why settle for one competitive term, when you could have dozens of long tail keywords that deliver a steady stream of traffic to your pages.
What is the Long Tail? of Search
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the distinction between a broad or general search and a long-tail search is simple. Instead of conducting a search for a term “buy a car” (which is general broad search term), one might use “Buy a New Black 2008 Ferrari Spyder in Chicago” instead (which is a long-tail search) as it includes more specific search modifiers to elaborate relevance.
This query through the process of elimination omits all of the less specific semantically grouped (off-topic) keywords that the search index has on automobiles and uses the additional search modifiers for relevance (such as Ferrari/Make, F50/Model, Chicago/Location black/Color, etc.) and returns results based on the most relevant pages which have a combination of the information in the query. It is doubtful that you would see results for a Blue Renault or Green Ford from this search engine query.
Based on who optimized their pages for the terms inside the search query, those pages would be returned higher in the search engine result pages (SERPs) based on topical and all in anchor relevance (the number of back links and the text in the link referencing the page).
There is nothing wrong with targeting long-tail traffic but it really depends on what you are selling, if you site is designed with additional information and resources or is a 10-20 page site. For smaller sites, it’s better to think laser-like in your approach and develop a narrow series of high ranking keywords to draw traffic.
If you have a content-rich site (hundreds of pages) with multiple categories, then long-tail optimization could maximize your conversion by delivering thousands of unique visitors as each page could be optimized for multiple terms.
As an example, have a look at your site in SEO Digger to see just how many possible combinations of keywords your websites keyword density returns based on the the search modifiers and keywords that are optimized (most sites have 50-100 results, I have seen some with thousands, so it is a matter of keyword saturation and keyword density for both the internal links and the external links pointing at the pages from other sites).
Arguably, individuals who use “long tail search queries” are typically looking for more than just information they are closer to the end of the purchasing cycle as a result of them seeking more relevant results. Long tail searches are statistically higher up the conversion chain, as action-based queries usually have eager surfers attached with credit card in hand ready to ready to close the deal.
Similarly, each time a search is conducted, it is by the use of the keywords in the query that search engine sort, eliminate and prioritize websites with the highest relevancy for those keywords.
The role of an optimization specialist is to “raise the bar” for each of the associated keywords that a prospect might use (while conducting a search) to create a correlation between the wide range of potential terms and the optimized (most searched keywords) in question. Naturally everyone wants to rank in the top 10 for a series of the most searched keywords, but in order to accomplish this feat, you must appease search engines and their stringent on and off page criteria.
Search Engine Positioning Factors.
- Content and composition
- Categorization and Orderliness of Related Data
- Link Building and Promotion
- Feedback, Traffic and Popularity
Content and Composition:
Content: Search engines catalog and index millions of pages and websites each day, there are specific guidelines that they use in order to separate the garbage (poorly written, off-topic or grammatically challenged content) with materials that are notably authority resources (well written, informative, concise information).
Keep your writing style on topic, use references when applicable and always try to focus the information on the page to a maximum of 3 unique distinctive topics in order to maintain consistency for your marketing message.
If you wanted to write a long winded thesis for example instead of an informative article, breaking it into sub categories and pages would create a higher relevance for each of the respective areas (if ranking higher in organic search engine results is your focus).
Composition: Once the writing style is addressed and your pages are air tight, there are two things to consider here, who you link to and who links to your pages. You can link to your own pages to create relevance through internal linking or you can up-link to other sites that are more established to slingshot your pages up the food chain to catapult past your competition.
Well written content reinforced by up-linking to the appropriate pages. Link to authority sites (or sites that rank higher than your own for the subject) can create continuity for the topic in question. This way, if someone does not find all of the pertinent information on your pages they can always find out more about the topic.
This also can elevate trust in search engines which will then reward your site (by association) with such indicative authority sites you link to. Many webmasters use .edu’s, Wiki’s, .gov and trade/ industry / news related websites in order to up-link their pages.
Oftentimes this will result in elevating your relevance as a resource site and others will link to you on the merit of your pages contribution to the topic. This can also present additional opportunities to ask for a back link later down the road from the authority sites you link to that take notice.
One of the main factors for achieving high rankings (for multiple keywords) is to include pertinent facts that reinforce a themed relevance for your pages.
If you have one page about a topic and several other pages that are off-topic it makes it difficult for search engines to decipher the true purpose of your pages. Themed pages rank higher by default because they all reference the other pages in some way shape of form. This is called keyword density and applies more to your site as a whole (like a book that contains a table of contents or an index).
Categorization and Orderliness of Related Data
In the past, many webmasters would create a series of unique domains (with keyword rich domain names, tags and titles) to focus relevance for each mini site and then up link them to one main site to escalate their money maker into the spotlight.
This practice is now frowned upon by search engines and can present a morally challenging dilemma as it is a gray / black hat (search engine manipulation) tactic, so if you feel your site has more than one focus, you can essentially separate it into sub-domains (refined-topic.yourdomainname.com) to accomplish the same themed relevance without getting the penalty for excessive over-linking or restructure your pages internal links to accommodate the Siloing of topical information.
Link Building and Promotion
Now that you have your pages created, your internal links are intact and referencing the others with the most appropriate anchor text, your site structure is impeccable now what?
It’s time to build some links. With so many tactics and techniques for building links, it is really boils down to finding the right method. Such factors depend on the competition, the industry and just how high the allinanchor ceiling is for the related keywords your site is targeting.
For example, we were hired to optimize a website in the promotion industry, the first thing we might do is.
1) Perform keyword Research – Start researching the top ranking keywords for the site. Depending on the domain age and site structure, if it is decent, then we may have to make some on-page changes to beef up the relevance for the keywords, but assuming that all is in order, then a minor update to the content, tags and titles (to match the links we will be building) would be in order.
2) Create a keyword Cloud / List – by taking the top 10 keyword combinations using a tool link Wordze for example and then create content that uses those keywords in a logical and relevant fashion.
3) Find the existing keyword allinanchor relevance / ceiling – of the site in it’s existing form. This means we would find one of the highest ranking phrases it currently receives traffic from, wrap that term in “quotes” and conduct a search in Google to get the exact match form of the keyword competitive ceiling.
From there, we can determine how competitive the term is and based on the number of results returned “in quotes” (located in the blue bar under the search term) we could gauge, just how much juice the pages currently wield.
If the pages non domain related keywords (as keywords in the domain rank easier) are above 50,000 results, then we know that we have leeway up to 100,000 results as an aspiring target for our efforts. In order to ensure that we have created an appropriate profile, we may use several keywords to assess the sites strength.
An example of an authority site would be when you could lightly mention a topic, tag it, use it in your title tag once and then rank for the term based on a 1,000,000 competing pages “in quotes” without even having to build external links to it (most blogs with a PR4 or more can do this easily).
4) Promote them with links – Next we would create a series of articles and submit them to various ezines (and link back to the pages using links with the keywords we wanted to optimize for each respective page). This would produce a nice rounded mixture of IP diversity for the first batch of link building and later assist in getting a nice mix of links.
Aside from that, you have key directories, guest blogging, viral marketing, social media and getting links from authority sites to bolster your rise to the top. Link building is the key to long-term SEO defense and can stop others from pushing your pages aside in the rankings.
Not to mention, when done correctly links elevate your pages to the top of search engines for multiple terms (If they are relevant to your content). Essentially I would refer back to the keyword cloud (list of 10-20 exact match keywords already pulling traffic) and find places where I could link back to the site, using a wide variety of overlapping key phrases (this over time will place your site in the top 10% of your niche, as long as your links are higher in relevance and authority than your competitors).
After about 3-4 months of this tactic, the optimized sites allinanchor relevance would be high enough, that each time someone used any of the related terms combined in a search with other modifiers (keywords) that site would be relevant and returned by those search queries. Many in the to 40, multiple searches in the top 20, the top 10, top 5 and so on.
The strategy that works wonders in targeting a niche involves starting with less competitive 4 word terms (use the quotes to check it in Google “keyword / key phrase”, then move to three word phrases (in about a month), two words (in three months), and then transition to one word keywords to optimize the most searched keywords.
Feedback, Traffic and Popularity
Traffic and Website popularity is another way to hasten authority for your website. If you promote your pages well through using any of the methods outlined in #4, then search engines will begin to notice the increased traffic and respond to your content by visiting more frequently and subsequently and elevating your pages the index accordingly.
If your site is getting thousands of visitors per month and your competitors is only getting 100 visits per month, for a related topic, who do you think will wind up moving up the relevance ladder and who will have to step down? WordPress blogs are great for this as they are already categorized and themed and Siloed in nature, the manage links well and spread the link juice evenly to each page.
Now, all you need to do is create link bait, either break the larger pages into compelling posts, reference the longer in-depth pages in the links of the link bait posts or pages, use social media to drive traffic (like Stumble Upon) and sit back as the pages age with a steady flow of back links, internal links, traffic and up-links to top off the equation.
Do this until each of your pages has 20-40 links per page providing support to it’s content, the reevaluate the need for tweaks and revisions to the pages, or modification of the pages (301 redirects, no follow tags, etc) to leverage the most link juice to the pages that have the best chance of ranking the highest.
One method use Google and use the following link command site:yourdomain.com keyword then the pages returned are the ones with the highest allinanchor relevance. The page at the top is the most suited for building links to that page with THOSE keywords. If you see one further down the list, them you can build that on up as well to create a well rounded allinanchor profile for your pages.
Once you achieve a saturation for the allinanchor relevance (links pointing at your pages from other sites using keyword in the text) your website will begin to rise up the search results for numerous related searches where any one of the keywords you have optimized in involved. Depending on the industry and the competition, it is not difficult to see just how effective this can be to blanket an entire industry for multiple terms through following the fundamentals discussed above.