Where you rank in search engines matters equally as much as which keywords you rank for; however, you should not confuse rankings, relevance or search behavior when targeting keywords for a new or seasoned SEO campaign.
With the multi-faceted metrics responsible for producing a top search engine ranking, the last thing or rather one of the worst things you can do is to focus solely on one phrase and expect it to bring server-taxing salvation to your website from eager consumers.
While the two most prominent metrics responsible for producing rankings (without links) are domain and page authority combined with the degree of relevance and trust a page or website has within a particular space.
Try not to confuse one metric for the other, search engine trust is needed to get on the grid and to be considered a contender (as older websites are often grandfathered into search results), but keep in mind that relevance, on page (page strength) such as how many internal links and anchor text are consolidated to a page internally and deep links (links from other websites) are the SEO trifecta which often decides who ranks where and for what.
The framework I am attempting to evoke here is (1) once a website gains enough trust (2) citation or (3) on page authority it is not easy for others to discern which of those metrics are responsible for spearheading the rise to the top in search engines.
A website with thousands of carefully cultivated pages need only add a new page and provide a handful of select internal links from other pages which either (a) rank for a fraction of the keyword intended for the target page or (b) have enough dormant authority to add weight (like a wildcard ranking credit) to the new target page as a result of the overlapping elements that comprise the page providing the link (trust, or a volumes of inbound links to that page).
The premise of link flow is simple, consolidate link equity in a site while cultivating enough on page signals (through ball rolling pages with internal links) while simultaneously aging the pages (like grapes to wine) until your page or domain has enough authority to cross the tipping point.
Despite all of the analogies, clichés and clever puns in this post, the reality is, tactics based on these strategies are responsible for capturing uber competitive keywords regardless of if it’s a niche, segment, market or industry.
On the tail end of this conversation, another “equally as important” consideration at present is to map mid-tail (competitive 2-3 word phrases) and long-tail phrases (key phrases containing 4 or more words) to rank above the fold (in the top 3 positions in search engines).
This is due to the fact that as search behavior is remolded to correspond to shifts in technology “such as Google Instant”, many of the traditional keyword research, advertising modalities and quite simply – the way people find information has shifted.
So, the more specific and niche oriented your queries are crafted (in conjunction with the process of selection) being captured and fed into the Instant Engine (to auto suggest keywords, queries and clusters) will also result in people finding pages from a broader array of unsuspecting keyword combinations (you may or may not have optimized).
At first thought, will “Google Instant” and the auto suggest feature cannibalize most long-tail keywords and suggest shorter more succinct alternatives (perhaps) but not everyone uses Google instant, not will that discourage someone from conducting a more thorough search “to get what they set out for”.
Long-tail keywords have a distinct advantage; the people using them know what they want and they don’t necessarily want noise (alternative key phrases) to diffuse their search and ranking for those keywords are more lucrative (despite the lack of search volume) since they are from people who are willing to purchase and are laced with commercial intent.
My suggestions for search are to:
1. Embrace an approach of hedging your primary keyword selection.
2. Finding relevant off shoots of lucrative keywords (by using Google Instant, Related Search or Wonder Wheel) to find which alternatives they are funneling traffic to… and
3. Optimize targeted landing pages (with a distinct conversion objective above the fold) to increase ROI while spreading the semantic array of catch-all keywords driving relevant traffic and more business to your pages.