Posted by Jeff Adelson-Yan (@jeffadelsonyan)
In a previous post about SEO keyword analysis, we outlined the steps for identifying keywords for optimizing your landing pages for search. One step often gets overwhelming attention when compared to the others. Sometimes it is the only step used for keyword analysis. That step is using a keyword research tool to identify terms with high search volume.
I’m not here to promote or denounce any keyword tool in particular. Most applications out there do provide invaluable insights into search volume and competition level, but they are too often used as slot machines. Plugging words into a box to find the largest search volume isn’t going to get you the long term SEO results you need to promote your business successfully through your website.
The keywords you target for SEO need to be relevant to the information that your site is able to communicate better than any other site. Consider the following scenario:
You use a keyword application to find a term or phrase with an extremely high search volume that may not be the best depiction of your subject matter, but you can spin the copy to make it work. You force that term into your landing page copy and tags enough to get your page onto the first SERP (search engine rank page). It appears that you have mastered the search engine algorithm.
As time goes by, and your site gets chosen from the SERP for the high-volume keyword you optimized for, web analytics show that the overwhelming majority of visitors are bouncing off of the site. They aren’t spending any time on your landing page. They aren’t clicking on any other pages to move further into your site. They are just leaving. Eventually your rank for the high-volume term drops off page one, then page two, then page ten.
This scenario is often the source of the calls we receive from businesses explaining that their site was on page one or two for their targeted keywords, and then suddenly dropped off. Often, they believe they must be a victim of Google’s Panda update. More often, their subject matter just isn’t well matched with the keyword they worked so hard to optimize for.
What I’m about to say may sound like a cliché, but clichés usually become what they are because of their effectiveness for getting the point across. The keyword analysis is the cornerstone of SEO, and the landing page content is the SEO foundation. Their relationship and necessity is unquestionable, but your SEO work has only just begun. The reason the landing page fell down the page ranks in the scenario above is because the landing page failed to accomplish what search engine algorithms are designed for – to identify the websites that are the most relevant to the search. The site’s lack of relevance for the high search volume keyword was evidenced to the search engines by the users’ activity once they reached the site.
The myth is that a search term is dubbed a ‘trophy keyword’ because of the volume of online users searching for the keyword. The reality: that term is representative of the search term that helps a visitor find your site, and that visitor then performs the conversion the site was designed to achieve. Those performing keywords are the terms you will likely unearth if you conduct a thorough keyword analysis.