How Many Searches Are Enough?
The best search term to rank for has a high monthly search volume and low competition. It also has a decent commercial value, where the people searching are looking for your product or service. These keywords are few and far between, as if you’re in an industry where money can be made; the higher search volume keywords likely have at least a decent amount of competition.
What Makes an Ideal Search Term?
A short answer is “a search term that provides more value than effort to rank.” When broken down, it becomes a much longer answer. These are the main factors you should be taking into account when creating your short and long term ranking goals for your SEO strategy.
Monthly Search Volume – How many searches would it be per day? About how many visitors would you expect per month depending on the position your ranking in? (View a quick estimate on this page). Those number aren’t exact and click through rates of each position in the top 10 vary greatly between keywords, even those in the same market. The Google Keyword Planner isn’t exact, and often times it may say that keywords that don’t receive any searches (or less than 10). If you know the market is there, and your potential value per client is enough; it’s worth pursuing some of these keywords. A perfect example of this is a real estate agent ranking for “homes for sale [zip code].” These are all super low competition keywords, but the potential value is high. If you can create a strategy that allows you to cost effectively rank for these keywords, in this case a category or tag function; you can take a firmer hold on the market as a whole.
Existing Competition – How available is the first page? Is there an 800 pound gorilla in the top spot, or even in the top few spots? By gauging the competition, it’s possible to estimate about how much effort is needed to compete in the market. While it’s not an exact science, you can quickly tell the level of competition by looking at main SEO factors including Domain Age, Page Rank, Social Activity, Incoming Links, and On Page SEO. Tools such as Market Samurai or SEO Quake make estimating your competition quick and easy for these main factors and several others.
Commercial Value – “Blue Bikes” is a great keyword that let’s assume gets 10k exact monthly searches. “Buy Blue Bikes Online,” only gets 500. Both keywords are likely worth ranking for, but the second has a much higher commercial value. People typing that in, are much more likely on average to turn into a paying customer; assuming all things equal.
Conversion Rates – This is an extremely valuable number to keep track of. Obviously you need some traffic to figure out these rates, but once you know them; you can tweak and improve them. By split testing and testing on page factors, you create an ideal page for higher conversions. A great source of initial traffic to develop these numbers is using Google Adwords or another PPC. The benefit of Adwords, is you can break it down further and track the conversions rates of individual keywords; which can further influence where you apply your SEO pressure.
Value Per Customer – If I’m only making $1 per customer, it probably doesn’t make sense to pursue a keyword that only receives 180 searches per month. If I’m lucky and ranked first, I might bring in half of that. With a conversion rate of 1-2%, I’m making less than $2 per month for that keyword. However, if I can make $10,000 (think high costs; landscaping, plastic surgery, industrial machines, etc.) or more for a customer, it would still make sense to target search terms that only receive a few searches per month.
Current Ranking Position – One of my favorite strategies for new clients is to see where they’re ranking for the bigger keywords in the market, or checking out their analytics and seeing what keywords are driving the most traffic. Assuming they aren’t in the #1 position already, I usually make that keyword a ranking priority. An argument I often hear, is “I’m already on the first page, why not focus on other keywords.” The answer is that in general the higher position that you hold on the page, you’ll bring in more traffic. So by focusing the keywords that are already big traffic generators, we can often double or triple the incoming traffic from those keywords a lot quicker than it would take to rank the site for a fresh keyword.
A lot of this is open to interpretation, and can be based on personal opinion, experience in the industry, or just an assumption on the market. But by taking all of these factors into account, you can create a much more sound strategy when ranking in your market. Carry out your keyword research with these factors in mind, and you’ll know exactly how many searches is enough.