I was talking with a prospective client once about their priority keywords and our conversation went something like this,
Client - "We want to rank number one in Google for widgets."
Me - "I think that's a good long term goal, but "widgets" is extremely competitive and there are some big players in your niche that are going to be hard to beat."
Client - "So what do we do?"
Me - "While we're building up to "widgets," we should also incorporate some variations like "thingamabobs" and "whatchamacallits," as well as long tail variations like "blue widgets" so we can build your overall presence and keep traffic coming to your site.
Client - "But we only care about doing well for "widgets" because that's where the money is."
Me - "I totally understand that, and like I said we can work on building up "widgets" over time, but we can't ignore the immediate and long term potential of these new keywords.
Client - "We just want "widgets." Why waste our time with anything else?"
I've had other SEO professionals ask me why I revisit the same topic time and time again in my writing (usually I'm ranting about ranking reports) and this conversation is exactly why--sometimes people just don't get it. Just about anyone who knows the basics of SEO understands not only the importance of keywords, but also the importance of keyword variety. A site owner just getting into SEO might not realize what they're missing by only targeting a short list of keywords and I feel like it's my job as their SEO partner to help them understand why keyword diversity is so important for long term SEO success. It might mean fewer headaches if I didn't have to fight the same battles time and time again, but then site owners wouldn't see the true potential of their SEO campaign come to fruition.
If you are a site owner that is fixating on a short list of keywords, no matter how profitable they may be, here are 3 reasons why keyword diversity is so important for your SEO and long term online success:
1. Reach a wider audience.
Not everyone is going to search for the same thing the same way. For instance, someone could be searching for "Droid cell phones" or "Droid smartphones" and chances are they are looking for the same kind of information. Google is getting better at recognizing synonyms and using them to create the search results, but at the end of the day the Google algorithm isn't human and may not understand all the nuances of human search behavior. By failing to target related variations of your priority keywords across your site you are limiting the reach of your website and how many potential customers you'll be able to connect with.
2. Long tail keywords drive more targeted traffic.
Every software company in the world would like to rank number one for "software;" no doubt it sends millions of visitors each month. But not every software company sells the same kind of software and "software" is generic enough a search term that it could really mean anything. Computer software is probably the most obvious choice, but someone could be looking for SEO software, music recording software, software upgrades for their phones, how to fix software when it crashes and much more. Yes, "software" might get millions upon millions of searches each month, but the goal of your SEO should be to send more of the right visitors to your site, not just more in general. Long tail variations of your priority keyword may have less search volume but the people that search using long tails typically have a better idea of what they are looking for and are closer to converting. You want to bring these people into your site so you can earn their business! While connecting with someone at the beginning of their buying cycle is important, there are a lot of steps between researching and buying and it's easy to lose people along the way. If you can pull people in with the right keywords when they are closer to making a decision you've got a better chance of earning their business.
3. Protect yourself from the search engines.
The Google Penguin update put the smack down on a lot of sites with unnatural link profiles and an overuse of exact-match anchor text. Targeting a variety of keywords simply means you have more anchor text to work with, making your SEO appear that much more natural. Incorporating a variety of anchor text into your SEO and content marketing programs lessens the chance that the search engines will think you are trying to game the system for any one particular keyword. For instance, if you have 500 links and 450 of them use the same anchor text it could raise a red flag. But if you spread those 500 links out across 20-30 keyword now only 200 of them use the same anchor text and you have a lot more variety in the mix.
At the end of the day, if you aren't willing to let go of your short keyword list and incorporate long tails and other versions of it into your site and content you're missing a huge opportunity to drive organic traffic to your site.
Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing, one of the premier full service SEO firms in the United States. With over 12 years of experience Nick Stamoulis has worked with hundreds of companies small, large and every size in between. Through his vast and diverse SEO, search engine marketing and internet marketing experience Nick Stamoulis has successfully increased the online visibility and sales of clients in all industries.
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