Who says less competitive keywords don’t convert? You need to know three things about SEO to get started (1) which keywords to target (2) how many competing pages are in front of yours occupying prime web estate and (3) what on page and off page SEO link/popularity/relevance/metrics or thresholds are needed to circumvent your competitors website authority and reach the top 10 search results…
In fact, since most traffic to a website (aside from your brand or brand name) are long-tail keywords (meaning they have 3 or more words), are you focusing on the wrong tact for your natural search engine optimization campaign?
Search engine optimization (also known as SEO) is all about positioning, and the more competitive a keyword is (meaning the more results listed in the top 1000 results in the search engines index) the more optimization, time and finesse is required to acquire a top ranking position.
So, the dilemma presents itself as a dichotomy such as (1) do you focus on the most sought after competitive keywords? Or (2) do you target keywords within your reach, set up superb conversion funnels and then over time spread the net wider to encompass more and more competitive keywords?
The logical answer is #2, but let’s explore why:
1) Not all traffic converts
2) The user expectation must match the page they land on to communicate a relevant hit.
3) Search engines assign more trust and relevance over time to a large body of documents.
With this in mind and your website being a work in progress, this presents opportunities to scale your content and topical relevance based on competitive market intelligence. The marketplace is a great place for feedback and this feedback can be translated into market share, KPI’s or keyword objectives. Most businesses neglect the notion that by devouring less competitive keywords not only does your base-line traffic increase, but the site begins to stem over time and now you have hundreds if not thousands of new keywords delivering curious prospects to your landing pages.
Although this is contrary to the blinder based “only the keywords at the summit matter” mentality, the rewards of occupying the path less traveled in this scenario can be lucrative if leveraged properly. As you dig deeper into the long tail, the clarity of the sales cycle becomes clear (1) people are more descriptive when looking for specific products or services (like using colors, model numbers, etc), as well as (2) the need to drive more traffic becomes less significant as the conversion ratio’s increase.
Understanding the Competitive Keyword Threshold:
Point#1: People surf for many different reasons, hence, the more aligned your content is with their original intent, the higher probability of conversion your pages have to transform inbound traffic into customers.
Point#2: Traffic that bounces signifies a negative relevance signal. Either fine-tune the content for the keywords it corresponds to or use the page as a hub/subordinate page that funnels the reader to the real champion landing page.
Point#3: A larger body of pages with a higher percentage of relevant content equals a larger volume of keyword saturation search engines can use to invoke relevance using inverse document frequency.
Reversing the conversion funnel:
Leveraging your relevance threshold in an inverted fashion is often overlooked by most. What this implies in layman’s terms is this… If you rank for a root phrase or keyword that has 1,000,000 competing pages, your website has already exceeded the threshold of 100k-999K competing pages for that root phrase algorithmically.
Scaling a relevance model from the onset (starting with keywords with 50K or less competing pages) and then acquiring more competitive keywords is typical. However, over time keywords stem and the optimized website starts to develop authority for a variety of terms.
One method we suggest is to (1) sift through your analytics and find the top 100 keywords driving traffic to your website and (2) look at the bounce rate and engagement time on the page to determine if people are genuinely interested in finding out more information on the topic.
Based on the data consumption rate of 200 words per minute for most, if they are spending 2 minutes or more on the page, then that page is a candidate for stemming a plethora of related keywords and synonyms from either higher or lower in the keyword food / relevance chain.
With this in mind, you can go back and broaden the array of keywords your sales funnel engages by setting up primary landing pages for second and third tier keywords you could acquire with a fraction of the effort.
Using the chart above (which is based on personal experience) you can see the relative competing pages and link threshold required to acquire nationally ranked keywords. Although this will vary depending on the quality of the links and the authority of the domain (since not all sites are dependent on backlinks for rankings). It was really designed as a model to emphasize the value of each threshold applied over time.
For example, in order to rank for a keyword with 1,000,000 competing pages, your domain should have at least 5K strong links and have an established link profile and ample amount of content on the topic in order to outrank your competition. Each variable may change, but the chart above is to provide the gist. The missing part of the model is the amount of pages, the amount of internal links required, etc. However, that will changes depending on the market and the competition.
Whoever said that keywords with less competition do not convert or have less conversion potential does not understand the marriage of matching a long-tail keyword or key phrase with an emotionally charged landing page.
The take away here is, you can add another dimension to your educational pages and invest them with links to less competitive keyword phrases to elevate those landing pages in the SERPs (search engine result pages) to mop up the market with a blanket of relative landing pages.
For example, if your page ranks for “SEO“, the core root phrase, then you could also rank for SEO company, SEO services, SEO consulting, etc… with a fraction of the effort since you already have relevance on file (in the search engines index) so to speak.
Consider this SEO Credit that you can spend as you wish. Scaling your relevance model, from the bottom up or from the top down is an integral step in devouring market share (which is the ultimate objective for SEO). Remember, once you reach the top of a keyword threshold, anything below it is fruit for the picking to funnel even more relevant traffic to your web estate.