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Keyword Analysis

SEO Keyword Analysis Tips – The Short, Medium & Long Tail

Keyword analysis is an essential part of any search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign. This research stage is integral to the overall completion of objectives that have been set out for the campaign and for achieving an effective SEO strategy. Keyword analysis looks into which types of different keywords will be chosen to optimise for your website, how competitive they are, and how much extra traffic they could potentially bring in.

Step 1: Keyword Brainstorming

The first step toward beginning any keyword analysis is to brainstorm some general terms or areas in which you would like to drive traffic for your business. The best way to start this would be to identify the areas of your business which you would like to bring visitors in through. For example, if one of our business services was selling life insurance, then we could use this as a starting point to then build some SEO keywords from.

Step 2: A Tale of Three Tails

Now that we have the broad keyword area ‘life insurance’, we can look to build the specific search terms that users are searching for related to this broad area. To do this, we can utilise Google’s free keyword tool within Adwords to take a look at some search volumes and related keywords for ideas. If we type into the keyword tool ‘life insurance’, we can see how many local searches are made each month (shown in the image below, 301,000 monthly searches).

google keyword tool
This search term brings in a huge amount of search traffic and would be an ideal candidate for a ‘short-tail’ keyword. What we now need to analyse is the competition for this keyword.

Keyword Competition

To find out how competitive a keyword is, we can look at a number of different things. The first is the number of results that comes up when searched for within Google. For ‘life insurance’, we can see there are 786,000,000 results, which is a huge amount. The next metrics that we look at are the results on page one for this search term. Once we have a list of the first page listings we can use some metrics created by SEOmoz, an industry leader in SEO software, in order to identify the levels of competition within the first page. The metrics that we will look at is the ‘Page Authority’ and the ‘Domain Authority’. This can be done by downloading the ‘Mozbar’ web browser extension.

keyword competition
The Mozbar will show up the different statistics for each website when you search within Google. As shown in the image above, for each result in the search engine results page the PA (page authority score), DA (domain authority score) and the total links to the webpage/website are shown. The PA & DA score are measured out of 100 (100 being the best); therefore we can see that this is an extremely competitive search term as the top few results have a PA of 80+. If we then compare this to our own website’s PA & DA it can give us a quick insight into how we compare to the competition in the search listings for each keyword.

Obviously these metrics aren’t the be-all-and-end-all of SEO, but they do give a nice starting point to go by with regard to keyword competitiveness.

The Medium and Long Tail Keywords

As we have found out, the ‘life insurance’ keyword is very competitive. As a result of this, it may take a long time to start ranking well for this term. What we now need to do is to think about how we can incorporate a medium and long tail keyword into our SEO based around ‘life insurance’ in order to start ranking well in the short term. In the image below we have outlined the different characteristics of the short, medium and long tail keyword:

As you can see, the medium tail keyword is slightly less competitive, usually comprising of 2-3 different words, brings in a moderate amount of search traffic. On the other hand, the long tail keyword is comprised of between 3-5 words, has much less traffic but is far less competitive. For the medium tail keyword we have chosen ‘Life Insurance Services’ as an example and for the long tail we have selected ‘Life Insurance Services Birmingham’. Below are the search statistics for the two keywords:

  • Life Insurance Services: Global Searches (27,100) Local Searches (1,000)
  • Life Insurance Services Birmingham: Global Searches (<350) Local Searches (<350)
Within this particular example, the long tail keyword actually doesn’t bring many searches each month at all. This doesn’t mean that we won’t get any traffic from this term though. As displayed in the ‘Search Demand Curve’ that was put together by SEOmoz using data from Experian Hitwise; the majority of searches that are made through the search engines are actually for long tail keywords (70% of all searches). This means that although the long tail keywords don’t individually get a huge amount of web traffic, it is vitally important to have a range of different long tail keywords used within your website’s SEO.

SEOmoz Search Demand Curve

How Many Keywords Should I Have?

Now that you understand the basics of how to build up your keywords to be used within your SEO, the next logical question is to ask how many keywords you should use. There is no perfect amount of keywords to use within your website; however, it is important to keep each keyword’s landing page (i.e. the page that the user will go through to once they have clicked through the search engine) relevant to the on-page content. By this I mean that if you are optimising for the ‘life insurance’ terms discussed above then there is no point landing the user on a page about home mortgages.

As a rule of thumb we use one short, medium and long tail keyword on each webpage of the website. Keeping to this can allow you to have a much more effective and focused SEO campaign overall. This method is also much more effective for conversion due to the fact that the website will only be landing users on pages that they are interested in.

Bringing it all Together

Keyword analysis, as you may have gathered, requires a lot of forward planning and analysis. Neglecting this can only cause problems later down the line for your SEO campaign. Make sure that you map out all the different pages and content on your website to understand exactly what type of keywords should be focused for each page before beginning anything. One of the most effective ways that I find to do this is to draw up a mind map of all of the different areas of the website. This way you are able to get an idea of which keywords would be most effective on each page, the pages that would be most effective for ranking well for each keyword, and also the scale of the operation you are about to undertake. Get this right and you should be on your way to building a great SEO campaign.

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