Blog Post

Competitive Keyword Analysis and Onsite SEO

Adam and I recently discussed the importance of onsite optimization. We often see agencies conducting big and expensive keyword research audits while there is so much data available at our finger tips. The best way to get started is to look at competitors in your space and generate a list of opportunity keywords. We aren't suggested that you don't have a strategy... just don't confuse keyword research with business strategy.

Once you understand your keywords, get busy building great content. As we always say, "onsite optimization is necessary but not sufficient." Watch to learn more and let us know what you think.

Adam: Or you just say, "Hi," and I'll know when it's [inaudible: 00:04.

Chad: Hey, Adam. How you doing?

Adam: Good, Chad. I had an interesting phone call from a reseller last Friday. You and I were on a call yesterday, and this issue of how to do competitive keyword analyses coupled with good onsite SEO strategy keeps coming up. It's complicated because it crosses several different disciplines: Keyword research, onsite SEO, eventually link building and content marketing. I thought we'd just talk for a little bit, and maybe send this video back to a few of those people who've called us, and try to outline what we think is the best practice and how to emerge that project initiative with the tools we have, particularly the research tab, content generation, and link building. What do you think?

Chad: Yes, that sounds like a good idea. I think one thing, just to start the conversation off, is to talk about the way most people do onsite analysis. In the good ole days, people came back with reports that had 15 or 16 keywords in a title tag and told you to set your Alt-tag on your images. I think what we've decided is that, first of all it doesn't really work as well. Secondly, it's not that useful. It'd be better to have more content on your website, so actually coming up with a way to actually get the keywords you want on your website in content that's useful to your customers is a better approach.

What are some of the things we've been doing? I know we've been playing around with blogging and even video blogging right now.

Adam: Let me make sure that I understand what you're saying, and I think you're right; most people are looking for a silver bullet with onsite SEO and they think there's this big strategic consulting engagement that should happen. Maybe for super-big sites, with a big brand and already huge domain authority and tens if not hundreds of thousands of route links, that's true. I think for the little guy, a small business or the average website, I think what you're talking about, a slightly more tactical focus, is going to bring traffic, conversions, and leads faster. Is that what I'm hearing you say?

Chad: Yes, great point. We're definitely saying out with the $2,500 or $3,000 onsite strategy project and in with get right to the point, pick keywords and start taking action on the website.

Adam: Right. If you look at Matt Cut's video on how to structure your site, over the years, he's actually evolved those to be flatter is better, simple is better. Our spiders aren't as smart as we sometimes want you to think they are, so go flat. In my head, again, I'm very tactically focused on these things, I think the progression is this, and I like you feedback: You start with our research tab, put in your URL, put in your competitors URL, and it's going to spit back what? The keywords you rank on as well as the keywords the competitors rank on, that you don't rank on or are further down than your competitor. I'm particularly interested in the ones that you just have no ranking at all. Out of that analysis, how long does that take to do, Chad? It's pretty quick.

Chad: We've got it down to probably 2 minutes.

Adam: OK. That 2-minute exercise will probably net for you, I would guess, a list of at least 20 to maybe even 100 keywords, particularly if you pick strong competitors who've been around a long time and have rankings that you don't. There's your roadmap for content that's missing on your website. When we say content, I mean a specific SEO landing page that has those keywords, has good density, but is also very useful and has information to offer, that someone would want to read and will have good time-onsite.

Chad: Adam, you said SEO landing page. I want to stop you right there because that by many people is considered a silver bullet, magic bullet, or magic thing they are doing. What is an SEO landing page? Is it anything special?

Adam: Only insofar as it's something useful. No, it's not something special; it's just a page. It could be a blog post. We do these every day. We use our video blogging as SEO landing pages. They're tailored around a specific keyword, so they're targeted for specific traffic that we know there's volume on, which that analysis we just outlined would show you. Then you just make something useful. That could be a blog post, something humorous, something controversial, a how-to, or a video. Anything you share that you think will engage your audience, that's what I mean by an SEO landing page.

Chad: I think you are dead right on that because that is really what . . . Sorry. The basic of the SEO landing page can be a blog post; it can be a web page. You don't need some special structure on your website to get this to happen. What really matters is what you put on that page and that it's about the topic you're writing about. That's a great addition.

Adam: I think that you do circle back to the traditional onsite SEO analysis, but ironically that's Step 3. Step 1: Run the competitive keyword research and figure out where your holes are, which become your target for SEO landing pages. Step 2: Generate that content, so all the ideas we just gave you. Step 3: Then have someone look at it and make sure title tags, the density, the alts, and all the traditional stuff are tuned for each of those 20 landing pages you just made. I guess I'd throw in a Step 4, which is really important, which is track. Throw them into a SERP tracker and make sure they come up on those words.

Some will come up, you have authority, some will come shooting to the top, we see this all the time. Those are going to be the less competitive keywords. The more competitive keywords will come up to a certain point, but then you'll need to apply traditional offsite SEO; content marketing, link building, and buzz around that topic pointed to that sub-page to push it all the way to Page 1. To me, that's the 4- Step process that you really want to go through. To me, that is worth so much more than that $5,000 consulting engagement, but that's my view of the world.

Chad: Yes. I think that the nice thing about that is that it doesn't sound that hard, what you just outlined. It really sounds very simple and I think that's because it is. All too often, people get caught in doing the strategic analysis rather than getting in there and doing the work. Go do the work, start writing a blog post right now, and thanks a lot.

Adam: Yes and post questions. because we want to hear your feedback. If we're off-base, give us some comments and we'll respond. Thanks.

Comments (14)

  • Adam Reply

    I really want to hear what people think about this approach to the big Onsite SEO Strategy

    1) Run the Web Grader keyword research tool with competitors to get keywords you don't have / don't rank well on

    2) Build great content (humor, how-to, controversy, technical information, politics) that will engage the audience that is searching for that keyword

    3) Track the rankings for these new keywords and watch them pop in.. Some will hit the top (the lower traffic keywords), others will stall out in page 4 (depending on your Domain Authority and competitiveness)

    4) Apply Off-Site SEO tactics to bring the ranking to page 1 (Buzz, Guest blog posts, Articles, Forums, Comments, Bookmarks, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn) -- This also needs to be high quality to bring the high domain authority link juice you need to get to page 1...

    12/21 at 11:16 AM
  • Terrance Reply

    The videos are such a great Idea for onsite SEO who doesn't like a brief informational video. Watching this made me so excite to share this with my resellers. I am going to build an email template and send this out to them. Thanks again guys for another amazing post!

    12/21 at 11:30 AM
  • Paul Reply

    This is a sound strategy that builds off of the core, white-hate SEO principles. A lot of people put great content first but I like this order better because having the keyword research data in the back of your mind while you produce content will help to keep it focused for the audience you are targeting. The only caveat with this methodology is that you have to be cautious so that the keyword research and your SEO knowledge doesn't influence you to write more for the machine instead of the reader.

    My personal strategy for content creation is this: Write for people first. Edit for SEO second. Edit for people third.

    12/21 at 11:51 AM
  • Adam Reply

    I agree 100% Paul.. Notice step 2 saysBuild great content and NOT Build stupid search engine content. LOL

    I know many will be tempted to go thin on content, but it's really not a great move... Your time-on-site will be very low with thin content and the hopes of getting picked-up, syndicated, linked and discussed will be 0%.... Why not put in a little more effort up-front and get the rewards....

    12/21 at 12:00 PM
  • Eric R Reply

    I see a lot of content that edits for one or the other (people vs search engines). I'll find a great article that has a lot of good information, but it's not well optimized to rank and the only reason I found it was by chance. Other times I'll see garbage that ranks high because it was clearly edited for search engines to rank.

    Using the keyword analysis from the web grader, and knowing you need a balance between editing for people and for engines, is there an optimal keyword density or a perfect % of anchor text on a page? I've read conflicting things, and want to know what you guys think.

    12/21 at 12:14 PM
  • Adam Reply

    Density is tricky because it's HIGHLY dependent on how many words are on the page... For example, having a keyword density of 12% for a page with 100 words or marketing copy can be just fine. However, if you wrote a 400 word article with 12% density, it would read very poorly and certainly would be seen by Google as Keyword Stuffing...

    12/21 at 12:21 PM
  • Adam Reply

    The article I wrote for Search Engine Watch is currently #1 for "SEO TIPS" (a fairly big term) with an onsite SEO density of 0.30% (Google it and take a look)... But it's also in the Title Tag, and we've also done great offsite SEO to help it along... Of course, we're riding on the Domain Authority of Search Engine Watch as well, which is 94! And it's GREAT content (if I say so myself).

    12/21 at 12:25 PM
  • Paul Reply

    I personally tilt the balance in favor people because it increases the likelihood that people will share and link to your content. I check to make sure that my keywords at least show up on SEO Book's free keyword density tool and if they are there, I'm satisfied. I think that anchor text matters most on external websites linking in and not so much on pages linking internally, but that opinion is based on no evidence what-so-ever. I care more about title, h, em, and strong tags for on page SEO. The em and strong tags are good tools for both the reader and the crawler. I use them to highlight key points and other gems for the reader which, more often then not, naturally contains keywords.

    12/21 at 12:46 PM
  • Matt Reply

    I am still trying to get people to listen to me about title tags.

    12/24 at 12:52 PM
  • Terrance Reply

    Thank you Matt! I feel that people don't REALLY understand how important they are.

    12/24 at 12:54 PM
  • Reply

    Hi Adam, Chad, When you talk about...... Apply Off-Site SEO tactics to bring the ranking to page 1 (Buzz, Guest blog posts, Articles, Forums, Comments, Bookmarks, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn)

    Is this what Hubshouts search engine optimization services will help with? I started using the service about 30 days ago for some clients and am eager to see what type of results we get.

    Are there any other off-site seo tactics that you still see working?

    12/27 at 05:43 PM
  • Reply

    Hi Adam, Chad, When you talk about...... Apply Off-Site SEO tactics to bring the ranking to page 1 (Buzz, Guest blog posts, Articles, Forums, Comments, Bookmarks, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn)

    Is this what Hubshouts search engine optimization services will help with? I started using the service about 30 days ago for some clients and am eager to see what type of results we get.

    Are there any other off-site seo tactics that you still see working?

    12/27 at 05:43 PM
  • Chad Reply

    In response to the most frequent comment, our services can help with a range of onsite and offsite optimization. We have programs to help with onsite blogging, press releases, content marketing, video creation as well as other online marketing services. Many of our partners use us for one or more of the services we provide. If we had our way, you'd have a diversified online marketing program using all of our services. Many partners, however, handle parts of the online marketing program themselves.

    So, I'm not sure how you have engaged us. We can do just a part or the whole thing. Please get in touch with your Account Manager to talk about some of the onsite services we can offer.

    12/27 at 07:32 PM
  • Reply

    Update to this thread. On 1/19/2016, we switched from Moz to A h r e f s for domain metrics in the dashboard. Please see our Moz to A h r e f s system update post.

    02/17 at 10:08 AM

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