A frequent question for the Wordtracker support team when using the Keywords tool is “What is the minimum amount of traffic for a keyword I want to target?” or similarly “What is the maximum amount of competition for a keyword to be worth targeting?”. To find out how to work this out read on ...
Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this, it would be great if there were minimum and maximum numbers we could give to people, but this is a question which is wrapped up in many wider issues. However, once these are explained it actually becomes much easier to target keywords.
Step 1 - What does the market look like?
When you’re researching keywords using Wordtracker’s tools, you’ll be asked to put in a seed term, something general that covers an area of your site. It might be, say, computers. The tool then gives you a selection of words based on that seed term. So in this case, they might be words like Apple, PC laptop and desktop.
All these results grouped together are called a ‘niche’ and different sets of results or niches have different characteristics.
Usually the broader the seed term, the higher the value and more competitive the niche. So in this example, the niche that was generated from the seed word computers, would be more competitive but higher value than a niche generated from a more specific word like laptops.
Within a broader niche, the level of traffic and competition that you target may be far higher than in a more specialized one where there are only lower levels of traffic available. You will also find that some niches are highly competitive, so you may have to target a keyword with higher competition than you would otherwise want to.
The key is that a good level of traffic or competition is relative. It is dependent on the levels seen within the niche. What is good within one niche may be bad within another.
Step 2 - Identify what your strategy is for your website, for the page you're optimizing, and for the keywords you're choosing
Higher traffic keywords usually come with more competition so require more work to get a decent rank. Having a clear strategy means you can make better informed decisions on the keywords you should choose.
If you are targeting high traffic keywords which have high competition then you are likely to need a bigger budget to gain traction in the rankings. That budget may be the time that needs to be invested or the money spent on getting someone else to do it.
If you know you need to gain rankings quickly, or have a limited budget, or are new to SEO, then targeting highly competitive keywords might not be the way to go.
Step 3 - How powerful is your site?
If your site is very high value, you can disregard competition and just choose the highest value keywords. That however is a relatively rare situation and one that does not occur unless you are working on a market-leading brand with a large budget.
The more backlinks you have, the higher your Alexa rank and the higher the PageRank of the page you are optimizing for, so you can realistically target more competitive keywords. All this information is available in the site statistics in the Campaign dashboard of our Keywords tool
Step 4 - Understanding search volume
The traffic figures given by both the Google and Wordtracker databases are not exact figures for how much traffic your site will get if it ranks in the number one spot for that term. These are instead an estimation of the number of searches that are performed for that keyword.
Searches don't mean visits, as the number of visits is impacted by many on-page factors. These range from where you rank for that term, PPC activity, the type of results page, how effective your title and description are and how effective those of your competitors are.
Due to both the sheer number of variables involved and the constant fluctuation within the results, it would be impossible to calculate this within the tool and likely to be highly inaccurate even if done manually on a keyword by keyword basis.
Step 5 - Combining the factors
To recap there are four key things to consider when thinking about what level of volume of competition is good to target;
- The wider levels seen within the niche as a whole
- How much budget you are willing to put into targeting those terms
- How well your site will rank on those terms
- How search volume relates to traffic on the page
Once these factors are considered together, the best keywords for your website should become easier to identify. A good way to do this is to sort by volume and then filter to include only keywords which are under a level of competition which you feel is attainable.
The highest volume keyword that is relevant to your page content is the primary keyword for the page, with the lower volume keywords forming your list of secondary terms.
This article on how to refine your keyword list will help if you find you have more keywords targeted that it is possible to optimize for on the page. This will also help where you have a list of very similar terms targeted.
The best way to understand the principles discussed here is by doing, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
The number of searches allowed on a Wordtracker Keywords tool account is purposefully high, so don’t worry about wasting them.
If you have any problems or do manage to run out of your allowance then contact support@wordtracker for help.
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Find more long tail keywords - long tail keywords can be highly relevant, give you a much better chance of ranking well, and often convert well too. That means more visibility for your business.
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About Owen Powis
Owen Powis is the lead SEO Consultant at Wordtracker and has a half decade of experience working as an SEO Consultant. That time has been spent working at some of the UK's largest agencies dealing with clients ranging from SMEs to large blue chip organizations. He can be found @owenfantastic on Twitter.