In general, most SEO beginners are doing their keyword research wrong. People focus on volume way too much, which leads you away from long-tail, easy to rank for keyword phrases and steers you toward the murky, difficult to navigate waters of broad based phrases.
Volume = Difficult, So Think Longtail
2-3 word phrases that are general to your business will have tons of volume, but tons of competition too. The image above from HubSpot spells this out perfectly.
So hammer this into your head – being on page 1 for a low volume phrase is better than being on page 3 for a high volume phrase. AKA, traffic is better than no traffic.
With that out of the way, there’s another factor people neglect when doing keyword research that is absolutely essential – the probability of conversion. This number can only be determined by you – there’s no software or Google tool that will help.
Thinking About Conversion Probability with Keywords
Let me break it down for you – if someone Google’s “hire Sacramento SEO consultant” – that is a home run phrase for me. The probability of conversion is super high. The volume is probably much lower than a phrase like, “SEO consultant rates,” but “SEO consultant rates” is being searched by a person who is shopping around and not even sure they need a SEO expert or some other solution.
“Hire Sacramento SEO consultant” indicates an interest in working together right now, and they have added a key location modifier that I align with.
Bonus: Using Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool
Moz.com provides incredibly helpful SEO software for only $99 a month. The first month is free and might be all you need. With the free trial of the pro version, you can input all the phrases you’ve discovered with your keyword research, and Moz will not only return a difficulty score but also show you the search engine result page so you can see who is ranking #1-10.
Only an experienced SEO marketer can interpret these scores, so let me fill you in on what I’ve learned:
Scores 70-100: Good luck ranking on page 1. You likely need to be a huge brand.
Scores 60-70: Very, Very difficult, but not impossible. Probably 6-12 months of SEO work.
Scores 50-60: These will take time and a legitimate SEO investment as well.
Scores 40-50: Anywhere from 3-5 months of SEO work
Scores 30-40: Anywhere from 1-2 months of SEO work
Scores <30: We can get on page 1 tomorrow.
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