The 10-step plan for getting to page one of Google

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Tim Pritchard, SEO specialist at SellerDeck, offers a 10-point guide to how online retailers can get their website pages ranking on page one of search engines by using keywords that attract less competition.

Much of the SEO buzz around at the moment seems to be about creating low competition keyword campaigns. We all know it’s vitally important to get your keywords right because, along with your inbound links, keywords will be one of the most important factors in making sure you rank well for the appropriate search terms.

The problem is that, at the time of writing, there are over four billion web pages and any search for something within your specific market will no doubt bestow many millions of results. How can we make sure our pages are appearing in the top 10?
Here I'm specifically looking at SEO from an online retail perspective, as I believe an ecommerce keyword campaign is a completely different beast. Most ecommerce sites, however niche, will generally have a selection of products on offer and it’s important to consider each of these products as its own entity.
Don't underestimate the importance of spending time on your research and making sure you get it right. A rushed keyword campaign could potentially set you back much further, whereas a well thought out, well structured and well executed keyword campaign can reap huge rewards. Your keywords shouldn't just be driving more traffic, they need to be driving more relevant traffic, which, in turn will increase your conversion rates.
So here's my 10-step guide to creating great low competition keyword campaigns.
1. Understand and segment
Before you start trying to create appropriate keywords, segment your products,  your industry and your competitors. Are you creating an overall campaign, or are you concentrating on one particular product or group of products? The more research you can do at this stage, the better.
2. Invest in a good keyword tool
To work on your keywords, you will need a good tool. There are some decent free keyword tools available like Google’s Adwords.
However, investing in a specialist tool like Wordtracker or Jaaxy will help to identify true competitive ratings and the power of each keyword.
A good tool will also make suggestions for alternatives to the words and phrases you search for. Look out for those that have lower levels of competition, but a decent amount of monthly searches.
3. Use Google Instant
Google Instant is what happens when you start typing something into the Google search bar, and it suggests things to search for. This is incredibly handy, as it gives a brilliant insight into what others are searching for, which helps with the ‘long tail’ keywords. You can then combine using a keyword tool and Google Instant to come up with new and fresh ideas for keywords to optimise for.
4. Do your competitor research
When you have come across a keyword (short or long tail) that you like, search for it within speech quote marks (e.g. "low energy lighting). This will only return results for that exact phrase.
You can see the exact level of competition you're up against, and even have a look at how some of your competitors' sites are set up. Try installing some SEO keyword toolbars (such as the Moz Toolbar for Chrome), that will help you to identify which keywords your closest competitors are optimising for.
5. Avoid keyword cannibalisation
This comes down to good segmentation and research at step one. You should always try to avoid over-optimising for one term, thus creating competition between your pages.
Contrary to popular belief, having your 'overall' keywords strewn throughout your entire site will not actually help you. What will actually happen is that rather than Google knowing the exact page to return, based on a query, it will have to choose between a number of pages and may not actually return the best page. This can then be detrimental to your click through rates and if people aren't clicking the link, it will suffer.
6. Get your 'Title Tags' right
The Title Tag is considered one of the most important aspects of SEO and tells Google what you're all about. Your Title Tags should all be unique, accurate to the page and set up right. Title Tags need to be under 70 characters (any longer will be wasted/unseen text) and contain your primary keyword, your secondary keyword and company name, in that order.
Of course, this all has to be written as a sentence that makes sense to a human whilst being well optimised for robots; no one said this was easy!
7. Don't forget your images
I write a lot about how important your content is. After all, people visit, link to and return to your site for the content, what else? Content isn't just your text; it's the images as well. Make sure your photographs are sensibly named and you make good use of Image Alt attributes to describe the picture and use the relevant keywords.
8. Make small changes
Don't feel that because someone on the internet told you that keyword campaigns were important, you need to go changing your entire site. Google loves fresh content, but change can be detrimental in the short term. Instead, try making small changes, work on one section or page of your site at a time.
9. Don't forget analytics
Following on from making small changes, keep an eye on your analytics to see if these tweaks have worked, and make adjustments if things aren't going well. Allow some time for changes to truly make a difference, but we wary of getting caught on downward slide.
Don't be afraid to really get stuck into your analytics and go beyond just visitor numbers and basic data. Analyse the keywords being used, traffic funnels, entrances and exits to get a good picture of visitor behaviour on your site.
10. React to the world around you
My last tip is that basically this process doesn't stop. As an ecommerce merchant, you will always have new products, but it goes beyond that.
Keep an eye on world events, industry trends and TV programmes in order to add relevant content (e.g. blogs , how to videos, useful links) as quickly as possible so you benefit from searches for topical keywords.
So there's my 10-point plan for creating great keyword campaigns. It can be a bit of trial and error, but with good planning, industry knowledge and great execution, it can be as easy as ABC.
If you think I've missed something or you disagree, I'd welcome your comments below.

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By Coffeemate49
04th Oct 2013 12:55

The challenge with long-tail keywords is that they are not searched as frequently as short phrases - therefore following the suggested strategy does mean creating more pages and they must all have new relevant unique content.  

Google's algorithm also now doesn't value incoming links as highly as it used to and reduces their individual ranking value in time.  It also now higly values brand authority as it detects from what it calls 'social signals'.  Both of these factoprs make it far more difficult for any tool to accurately measure compeitor strenght for any particular keyword.

One piece of good news for the hunter of high rankings for long-tail keywords is that with its recent announcement of project Hummingbird, see http://www.living-streams.co.uk/news_article_name/Google-Hummingbird-Search-Ranking-algorithm-change.aspx, Google has stated intent to understand long-tail keywords better and present more relevant results.  It's early days in the life of Hummingbird but this should certainly oipen up some new opporutnities as well as results in some loss of rankings for pages currently high ranked for these sort of keywords. 

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By SellerDeckTim
04th Oct 2013 15:05

Hi Coffeemate49!

You add some good points, unfortunately it's impossible to cover everything in a short article! It's true, new pages would probably be needed for some of the longer tail keywords; in fact, I've written a lot about the importance of blogging... great way to get fresh content and good keywords! My other biggest bit of advice for people is to be as social as possible. Google want people to work hard for it, it's no longer about just making a few on page changes, it's about consistently interacting with your target audience and using the tools at your disposal, i.e. social networks etc. Hopefully, this serves as a good guide to keyword campaigns though, one small part of the bigger puzzle! 

Hummingbird does look interesting, it's great to see Google attempting to understand questions etc... 

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