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Keyword Evaluation

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What factors play the biggest role in strong rankings?

We have looked at the core principles earlier, but we’re just having a recap now in terms of how important those core areas are for your rankings.

Technical SEO: The technical SEO is relatively quite small. It doesn’t mean it’s unimportant to get your technical SEO wrong, it means your content might not be able to be crawled or indexed. It’s a bit of a showstopper.

On-page optimization: What is more important is on-page optimization, so that’s maybe nearly three times as important. We’re going to say about 30% of the total rankings.

Off-page optimization: The last bit is off-page optimization. So, these are external factors that are affecting your website’s reputation, largely driven by backlinks.

Landing page reputation

Let’s think about a landing page that you want to rank and do well on a search engine. Now, we know that the technical SEO is quite small, and we can see the relative size of relevancy. But in order to build up your off-page SEO, then we need to build up the authority of that landing page. Now, in the world of Google we sometimes use the phrase PageRank, and that is building up a page’s reputation. So, it could be an internal link or an external link will build up a website’s PageRank or web page’s PageRank. But in terms of using metrics, to help us understand this, we can use the metrics that Moz make available for free.

Page authority

One of the metrics is called page authority. So when we look at a specific landing page (such as a knee pain landing page), then we’ll need that page not only to be relevant but it will need to be authoritative and reputable, and at a page level we can use page authority, which is a percentage of between 0 and 100 of how reputable that page is. And the way we can improve that page authority is either by increasing internal links to that page within reason, or we can generate external links or backlinks which will help with the page authority.

Domain authority

The actual domain that the landing page is on will have an impact as well, and that domain’s authority is called domain authority.

Now, primarily this is a backlink analysis tool which we will look at in more detail shortly, but when you enter in a URL, it will tell you the domain authority and it will tell you the page authority. And this is quite important.

Moz’s Link Explorer

So, we want a page to rank well on Google, but we want to figure out how competitive that key phrase is that we’ll be targeting, and whether we stand a chance of ranking for that phrase.

There are a lot of tools that provide keyword difficulty metrics:

  • SEMrush
  • Moz
  • KWFinder
  • Ahrefs

We’re going to focus on Moz’s metric. And this is part of MozBar and you can actually find it in Moz as well.

The keyword difficulty part is a paid subscription of Moz.

I’ve typed in “sprained ankle”. I can see the keyword difficulty is 61%. It doesn’t sound that high. The higher the more difficult, but it actually is very high. And you’ll get a feel for this when you use the tool yourselves. Something over 50% keyword difficulty is pretty high. You need an authoritative site to rank for it. On marker 2, we can see in the search results what the page authority is for the pages that are ranking, and we can also see what the domain authority is for the actual domain of the landing page. And what you want to do is to say, “Hey, okay, sprained ankle. It’s 61% keyword difficulty, and I can see that on average I’m going to probably need as a minimum 34% as my page authority, and it looks like in some cases it can be as much as 63%”. So, you’ll get a feel for what keywords are perhaps within your reach.

Now, you may ask the question, why is a website with a lower page authority outranking a website with a higher page authority? And the reason for that is, these are just Moz’s metrics, so these are their estimations of how reputable a page in the domain is. Google will have their own and it’s more sophisticated. And also when you rank a page it’s not just about the authority, as we know, there are other factors like RankBrain, keyword targeting as well.

When keywords are too competitive or too generic

When we are evaluating a keyword, by going too competitive or too generic, it can lead to a number of problems:

  • You can have a real lack of SEO momentum, and that will decrease motivation. And that’s the number one reason that people give up. They just lack momentum and they lack motivation. So, by getting just some small wins early on, it can really help getting that motivation and getting that momentum.
  • If you are targeting keywords that are just too competitive, you’re probably going to not get as many sales or as many leads, which isn’t good.
  • It can set unrealistic expectations. Maybe you’re doing work for your boss, and he’s following ten keywords that you’re targeting but they’re out of your reach in the short to medium term. So remember, we’re thinking about keywords that we can rank for maybe the next three to six months.

Low-hanging fruit keywords

In terms of low hanging fruit, I’m still thinking about keyword evaluation. Remember earlier we looked at “twin size blow-up mattress”. That looked like an easier keyword to rank for than “twin size air mattress”. In Google Search Console, in Search Analytics, there we could see what keywords we were already ranking for, so that’s a good place to start in terms of low hanging fruit.

And we’ve used tools now to show how competitive keywords are, so you might like to check that out.

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Joe Williams

Managing Director and SEO Trainer at Zen Optimise

  • Founder and SEO Trainer at Zen Optimise with 10 years’ experience in Search Engine Optimization
  • Zen Optimise is a London-based digital marketing training company
  • SEO consultant and trainer for hundreds of small, medium, and blue chip companies including Qantas Airlines, Sky, Eurostar, EasyCruise, and Anti-Slavery

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