October 1, 2003
Finding keyword phrases your competition is missing is easier than you might think. Combinations of two and three word phrases are often overlooked by your competitors when vying for the top competitive terms. This missed opportunity may be a benefit to you to overcome your competition in the search engine rankings.
Really look at the audience you want to bring to your website. Are there terms you might not ordinarily use, or that your competitors use, that would work for a small portion of visitors? Remember that single words tend to be more competitive. Find two and three word phrases that would work for a searcher looking for your website topic. If your visitors usually search on "vertical widgets", look at "horizontal widgets" as well. Dig deep to find terms that might not be obvious to you. Be sure to focus your terms on the actual topic of your website, and terms that people would really search for. Have another person compile a list of keyword phrases used to find your website or product. You'd be surprised at the number of variations two minds can come up with instead of one. Think like a searcher - not a website owner.
Viewing your competitor's source code is very easy and a good way to see what keyword phrases (if any) they are using. Using your browser, view the source code of their page. The title and meta tags should contain the same keywords or variations of keyword phrases if the competitor's website is optimized. Look over the web page content as well as for keyword phrases worked into the text, image alt text, headings and hyperlinks of the pages. If their pages are not optimized you may gain an even bigger edge on the competition by optimizing your web pages.
The Overture Suggestion Tool will provide keyword variations. You can find the tool at http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/
Clicking on the suggestion tool link will bring up a window that allows you to search for terms and variations of terms. Begin with your list and see how many variations come up with the results. You might be surprised at the popularity of some of the search variations you see. Be sure to add you new keyword phrases to your list.
WordTracker is a keyword tool as well, you can purchase a yearly subscription or even a one day subscription. Learn more about it here: http://www.wordtracker.com/
Using your expanded list of keyword phrases, search for those terms in the search engine databases. Note the number of search engine results. The more results, typically the more competitive the term. See the differences in number of search results for plural versions as opposed to singular versions of your keywords in each engine. Note the descriptions that the search engine results bring up - are there any keyword phrases there that might apply to your website? Don't forget the ads Google displays in their search results. Study the ads that come up with your search terms as well. While you are searching on your keyword phrases, check your competitor's ranking, along with the new keyword phrase variations you come up with through the Overture Keyword and WordTracker tools.
You can also target local areas by including them in your title/meta tags and text of your web pages. List only the cities and state you reside in and/or provide services to. You never know who will be looking for a local contact producer of "blue widgets" in your city or state. Some people prefer to work with a local company. Adding in those type of specifics, even on your contact page with your local information, can pull in traffic your local competitors are missing.
Last but certainly not least, check your search engine stats program or raw server logs to see what terms your visitors are using to find your website. There may be combinations of words your visitors are using you have not thought of or that may not be in the content of your pages.
Once you have your list of varied keyword phrases, work them into your web page. Incorporating these terms into your web pages should "make sense", in other words, they should read well and not sound "spammy". Most of all, they should realistically be part of the content of the page, not placed there only because you need them in the content. Have another person read your copy to see if it sounds reasonable to them.
Don't miss out on the keywords your competitors might miss. Those extra keywords could translate into profits and increased viewing of your website by visitors who might otherwise not find you.
Daria Goetsch is the founder and Search Engine Marketing Consultant for Search Innovation Marketing, a Search Engine Optimization company serving small businesses. She has specialized in Search Engine Promotion since 1998, including three years as the Search Engine Specialist for O'Reilly Media, Inc., a technical book publishing company.
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