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Ewan Watt

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SEO & Keyword Targeting in 2015

An in depth look at keywords and best practice SEO in this day and age

Race to be #1 in SEO

Search marketing is always evolving and changing, but the last 12 months in particular have seen some major shake ups. Practices that once would have worked in achieving rankings now fall flat in making a mark on Google’s Holy Grail first page. Find out how SEO has changed for 2015.

With an in depth look at the most recent changes, we have compiled some tips for getting your business on the right track in 2015. Whether you’ve been in the SEO world for years or you’re new to the game, this guideline is designed to assist every business in achieving growth in their search marketing results.

1. If you only focus on ranking for a small number of keywords your rankings will go backwards

Obviously every business has a select number of high traffic keywords that they would like to rank for. In the past, the most popular way of achieving high rankings for select keywords was making sure that keyword or phrase was mentioned several times on your web page, and by including lots of inbound links to your website (because inbound links are better right?) featuring the select keywords in the link’s anchor text.

Three years ago this was an SEO technique to tell Google you wanted to rank for these keywords. However, in 2015 Google does not like any SEO practices which are deliberately designed to manipulate search engine rankings.

One of your SEO goals may be to rank for certain keywords, but you need to do it differently than you used to by following the principles below:

  • Rewrite your content with the main focus on your target audience, not keywords
  • Regularly publish content around your entire subject area, so your site is viewed as an authority in your industry, not a site designed for 2 or 3 keywords
  • Review and delete some of your old keyword text links, as these links will be detrimental to achieving high rankings in 2015

Some prime examples of sites that rank very well for high traffic keywords with hardly any mention of those keywords on their targeted web page include:

JB Hi FI – “LCD TV”

jbhifi

iSelect – “car insurance”

iselect

2. The search results for Google places listings are changing constantly

Places listings (which used to be called Google Maps) are a frustration to many business owners. If you are one of those people that checks your search engine rankings regularly, you will notice that Google constantly changes the way it displays their places listings, so you may be here today and gone tomorrow.

The dynamic environment of Google places represents an ideal opportunity for you to exploit new keyword opportunities that your competitors may have missed. For example, there is the chance to rank in position 4-10 for the keyword “limo hire” if you utilise place listings, which would previously be unattainable with the first 6-12 months at the very least.

serp Limo Hire

Achieving top 2-4 rankings for popular keywords like “Mercedes limo hire” is now a possibility within 3 months, as there is not as much competition within the places environment.

serp Mercedes limo hire

Another great example of opportunity to rank for high search keywords is “cheap furniture”. Here you’ll find a 3 pack places listing displays, which means a new site has a real chance of ranking within 1-3 months on the first page. Once again, this would normally take a website at least 12-24 months to achieve on a big budget.

serp cheap furniture

3. Many of the keywords you are targeting will be delivering no traffic and no phone calls

SEO is a process of not only continually improving your search engine rankings, but also understanding that your competitors are trying to do the same and that Google is constantly changing how they rank websites.

This means it is inevitable in SEO that at least one of the following events will occur:

  • A) You target keywords that do not rank on the first page
  • B) You achieve high rankings for keywords but still receive little traffic
  • C) You achieve high rankings for keywords and your number of sales leads does not go up

This means that every 3-6 months you should be reviewing and updating your keyword strategy. If you are struggling to rank for some keyword segments, perhaps try some less competitive niche keyword variations. You are better off ranking on the first page for niche keywords that are relevant to your target audience and business than page 5 for a high traffic search term.

You should also check how much organic traffic is arriving to your targeted web pages. Google’s keyword planner is only a guide, so you want to check that the keywords you’re ranking for within the top five are actually driving traffic to your website.

targeted_pages

At roi.com.au, we update and modify the keywords we target for our clients every three months as a standard part of our SEO service. While some SEO companies lock customers into contracts where they cannot change your keywords, we do not believe to this be in the best interests of your business and would never adopt such a practice.

4. Your keyword strategy needs to evolve as you achieve certain ranking milestones

I still receive similar phone calls to the ones I used to receive regularly five years ago. Ones where people are stating they want to rank number 1 for big keywords like “home loans”, “carpet cleaning”, “interstate removalists” and the like.

There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, but you also need to be mindful that if you have a new website you are trying to out rank websites that have been working towards the same goal for the past 10 years. Is it realistic that a new website will be able to make up 10 years of ground within 3-6 months? Certainly not impossible, but still unlikely.

At roi.com.au, we categorise our websites into 3 ranking situations:

  • No visibility – a new site or one with very few first page rankings for niche keywords
  • Moderate visibility – 20%+ first page rankings for niche keywords
  • Strong visibility –  20%+ first page rankings for popular keywords

traffic visibility graph

Obviously your keyword strategy needs to be mindful of your current ranking situation, otherwise your short to medium goals will not be realistic.  Targeting rankings for popular keywords when you have no visibility only leads to disappointment and wasted resources.

You are much better off setting realistic mini goals every 3-6 months, and then progressively setting harder goals for more competitive keywords as you achieve these goals and the authority of your site grows over time.

5. Google has changed the way it displays search results and ranks websites – an SEO Audit is a must

There has been so much change within the Google environment over the past 12 months, if your SEO strategy has not been substantially reviewed your site is at serious risk of going backwards in 2015. Below are five major changes that you may need to review:

  • (i) Google displays international, national, and local search results for some keywords, which significantly impacts the difficulty of ranking for those keywords
  • (ii) Footer links have been significantly devalued in how they pass link value within a site
  • (iii) inbound links that use over 10% of identical anchor text present a major risk of your site being penalised for poor link quality
  • (iv) Reducing the number of inbound links to your website  can improve your rankings, which can include disavowing or deleting any Web or article directory links
  • (v) Site wide and advertising links must be labelled as “no follow”

ahrefs anchor phrases

Most business owners wait for their rankings to drop before they do something about their SEO. However, with the keyword and SEO environment as it is in 2015, to succeed in search marketing your business really needs to continually update your strategy and stay ahead of your competitors and Google’s changing landscape.
 
Discuss your keyword strategy with an SEO Expert today.

 

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OTHER RESOURCES

  1. Moz – How To Do Keyword Research – A Beginners Guide
  2. Wordstream – How Better Keyword Research Gets You Better Results
  3. SEO Nick – How To Do Keyword Research For SEO