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Why SEO for profit must target groups of keywords

Posted by Mark Nunney
Keyword research
Why SEO for profit must target groups of keywords with Wordtracker - the leading keyword research tool

You know targeting keywords is important, but targeting single keywords with your SEO is unlikely to be profitable – SEO for profit must target groups of keywords. Here we’ll tell you why and explain how.

Keywords are words used to search on search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN.

SEO teaching is usually centered on single keywords and single pages.

This 'single keyword' approach is often useful but it misses the big picture: To be profitable, most websites will need to be successful for hundreds of thousands of keywords.

Let’s find that big picture and put SEO and keyword research into context and perspective.

SEO in context

A website needs enough traffic, sales and profit to maintain a significant part of its business. Perhaps...

  • as much as 50% of company turnover
  • at least one employee for the smallest of businesses

SEO in perspective

For a small business website, let's see how many...

  • visitors are needed
  • keywords must be targeted
  • pages built?

We’ll look at some real figures for thinkingmanagers.com which supports one full-time employee and earns revenue from newsletter subscriptions and advertising.

The site has about 7,000 pages indexed by Google - see below:

Pages indexed on Google from thinkingmanagers.com

…and 75,000 visits a month-see the following screenshot from a Google Analytics report:

Google Analytics shows 37,272 keywords brought 73,697 visitors to the site

Note that the site needs to be successful for 37,000 different keywords to bring 75,000 visitors and make enough sales to support just one employee (a ratio of visits:keywords of approximately 2:1).

These figures raise an obvious question: can you give 37,000 different keywords individual attention?

Of course you can't.

Those figures were for one month. If we look at the figures for two months, the proportion of visits to keywords used doesn’t change much (so the number of different keywords used almost doubles), as we can see in the following report:

Google Analytics shows 70,746 keywords brought 150,431 visitors to the site

One of the reasons for this is that as many as half of all searches made in any day are done so with unique keywords. Clearly, we can’t specifically optimize for keywords that are only used once.

The diagram below shows another Google Analytics report, this one from a higher traffic site. Again, we see that the ratio of visitors to keywords used is almost 2:1.

Google Analytics shows 164,028 keywords brought 344,541 visitors to the site

You can’t beat the stats - even a small business must target hundreds of thousands of keywords (I’d say millions but I don’t want to scare you).

This restricts effective SEO and keyword research, making that traditional single keyword approach seem almost comical in its inadequacy. So what to do?

We must think in terms of groups of keywords which I’ll call ‘keyword niches’ - a niche being…

… a group of keywords that share a single (seed) word.

A Wordtracker search, made with a seed word, shows us a keyword niche - or to be more accurate it shows a sample of a niche, using the keywords in its database. For example, let’s look at the ‘management style’ keyword niche, ie, searches (keywords) containing the words management + style.

The following diagram shows us Wordtracker’s results for the ‘management style’ keyword niche:

Results of a Wordtracker search for 'management style'

For our example site – thinkingmanagers.com – the following report from Google Analytics shows one month’s results for searches with that niche’s keywords:

Google Analytics shows that 1,137 keywords from the 'management style' keyword niche brought 3,928 visits

Approximately 4,000 visitors came to thinkingmanagers.com after searching with 1,100 different keywords from the ‘management style’ niche.

This site targets those ‘management style’ words and thousands of others simply by writing quality, long articles that reference ‘management style’. We can’t specifically target the individual keywords but we can target the keyword niche, its seed word and then let the quality content chase the tail.

So instead of looking for, comparing and targeting single keywords, we must target keyword niches. For example, on thinkingmanagers.com, instead of targeting the following important single keywords:

  • management style
  • management theory
  • quality management
  • business strategy
  • business management
  • business development
  • corporate culture
  • entrepreneur

… we target each of the keyword niches for which those are the seed keywords. That job will clearly need a lot of content so you’ll want lots of ideas for creating your web content.

As we’ll cover in other articles, before creating that content we should find target niches and then prioritize them because we can’t work on them all at once.

We prioritize different keyword niches by finding out which ones will give our site the best return on our investment - an evaluation based on how successful our site currently is for each keyword niche (we look at current traffic and sales) and how successful it might be (we look at niche size, competition and potential sales).

The result of our prioritizing is our SEO strategy.

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