Hm… I do realize this is a touchy subject with the talks of Rand Fishkin and the possibility of anchor text extinction, to what he refers to as co-occurrence. However, our link building approach is still effective with our current campaigns, and I wanted to give some insight for those looking to learn more about link building.

So, assuming you have your targeted keywords that are mapped accordingly to appropriate URLs, let’s get started.

Where to start?

Another hot topic of discussion: do you go for the keywords with the highest search volume, which means more traffic and competition, or the more specific keywords with less competition and a better chance of conversion?

My advice is that a good spread of both is ideal. Choose a keyword with a high search volume and a less competitive keyword that both target the same URL (e.g. “custom furniture” and “custom made wood furniture”). This is a long-term strategy (any SEO campaign should be), but it at least can earn some trust in the beginning stages of the campaign as some smaller keywords will start to jump in rankings.

If you are curious how competitive the playing field can be for a specific keyword, you can use SEOquake or a toolbar like this. This will help you get a feel for how much authority the sites that are ranking on the first page for your targeted keywords have (PR, site age, site links, page links, etc.). Now there is not one set rule since sometimes it’s difficult to see why Google has placed one site above another. Check to see if the majority of page-one results are highly relevant to the search query along with the landing pages you are directed to click. If it looks like they may have acquired this ranking by default versus optimization, use that to your advantage and include this low-hanging fruit in your strategy.

Targeting Geo-Specific vs. Root Keywords

First off, as I have seen many variations of campaigns be successful, I caution once again that a balanced spread seems to be the most ideal option.

EXAMPLE 1

New Business and Website

If your site or business is new it is a good idea to start with geo-specific keywords (e.g. San Diego pool services), as you already have several factors to climb that are not as controllable (domain age, branding recognition) along with the necessary grind of link building and the essential SEO practices. Think long term and gain momentum with geo-specific root terms and then consider going broad.

EXAMPLE 2

Brand Established, Website Established but lacking SEO

This, oddly enough, is not a rare case as now more and more businesses are identifying the importance of marketing online. These clients are much easier as they already have a presence established offline, and often they just need cleaning up around the edges to rank for some high-volume keywords. In this case you can most likely start boiling the water versus eating the elephant one bite at a time. We have seen now with Google’s intelligence of location based search, if you start ranking for broad keyword terms you will also be relevant in and show up for search queries with a  geographic location attached in your area of operation.

So your strategy is mapped out and you have seen minor success. What’s next?

There are plenty of kick-ass tools out there that can confuse or really help you in a campaign, but really I think Google Analytics/Webmaster Tools is my favorite to spot check. Check in the Organic Search column for non-branded keywords to see what words are bringing you the most traffic (See picture).

This will help identify what keywords are truly bringing success and which to possible reconsider. Often you can become disillusioned by a keyword that is ranked higher and has a large search volume association. However, I have seen keywords ranked on page two with less search volume that are still driving more traffic to the site. Let the metrics, not your assumptions, guide your decisions.

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