20 Helpful Resources for Learning About Keyword Research

A successful campaign to increase valuable traffic to your website starts with understanding the right keywords that you want your website to rank for. Keyword research can help you determine what potential customers are searching for and uncover opportunities where your site can move up to the first page in search results. The following resources provide helpful ideas and tips for conducting effective keyword research for your company. I have also included my top takeaways from each article or resource.

How to Do Keyword Research: 17 Industry Experts Shared Their Methods & Tools Rana Shahbaz
-Use Ubersuggest to get suggested keyword based on a root phrase.
-Look for keywords that are related to the problem you are solving.

How to Improve Your Rankings with Semantic Keyword Research SEOMoz
-Semantic search tries to determine what people mean when they enter keywords.
-Search for a keyword in Twitter search to see how people are talking about specific keyword phrases.

5 Tips for Conducting Semantic Keyword Research Search Engine Journal
-Related searches indicate what Google “thinks” are semantically related keywords.
-Write for humans first, search engines second.

The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research Viperchill
-Use Yahoo Answers to find popular questions that people are searching for.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Keyword Research SEOMoz
-There has never been a lower barrier to entry for understanding the motivations of buyers in any niche.

Keyword Research for Web Writers and Content Producers Copyblogger
-Keyword research indicates what people are interested in and what language they use.

Google Related Searches Blind Five Year Old
-Review “related searches” for keyword ideas and keyword modifiers.

Keyword Research for SEO SEO Nick
-Make sure to set the Google Keyword tool to exact match to get a realistic monthly search volume.
-“Local” in the Google Keyword tool refers to the local country, not the local area.

How to Take Your Keyword Research to a Higher Level Search Engine Land
-Keywords that you have not assigned to a specific page will be a distraction.

SEO Strategy For Business – How To Build A Keyword Opportunity Model SEONick
-Use this Google spreadsheet to estimate the value of specific keywords for your business.

4 Under The Radar Keyword Research Sources You Can Use To Find Hidden Gems Search Engine Land
-Use http://stats.grok.se/ to find out how many people have visited a specific page on Wikipedia.

Minimum Viable Keyword Research John Doherty
-Your domain strength helps determine which keywords you have a chance to rank for.

How to Research Keywords: Tips, Competition and Squirrels Orbit Media
-Use Google Trends to see if a keyword is becoming more or less popular.
-The competition level in Google’s Keyword Tool estimates competition for Adwords not organic search results.

5 Unexpected Keyword Research Sources Search Engine Journal
-Check popular industry forums and review titles of popular threads.
-Listen to how customers describe your offering over the phone.

Extending Keyword Research: Learn from Your Offline Audience Seer Interactive
-Think about questions that people are asking offline.
-Create FAQ pages to answer common questions.

Conducting a Keyword Performance Audit Zazzle
-Export your visits from keywords in Google Analytics into Excel and compare this to the values of the estimated monthly exact search volume from Google’s Keyword Tool.
-Google’s Keyword Tool might not be accurate for recently trending keyword phrases.

Spy on Your Competitors for Keyword Research Authority Labs
-Look for keywords where Google thinks sites like yours should rank well.

Keyword Research Mistakes to Avoid Single Grain
-Consider the competition level of the first page of Google; don’t be deterred by a large number of results for a keyword phrase.

Beyond Google Adwords Keyword Research Quicksprout
-Bing’s Keyword Research Tool shows the exact amount of times a keyword phrase showed up in search in the past 30 days or longer.
-Use strict mode for the equivalent of exact match.

When Keyword Targeting Gets Tough SEOMoz

-If it makes sense for users, put multiple keywords on the same page.
-Use natural language on your pages.
-Combine keywords that make sense.
-If it is a competitive keyword phrase, consider a separate page.

If you would like to suggest a helpful resource that we missed, please mention it below in the comments.

Top Interview Questions For Hiring an SEO Writer

Hiring for SEO can be tricky for two reasons: First, it’s difficult if you aren’t overly familiar with SEO yourself, and second, even if you do have an SEO background, it can be tough to know what questions to ask someone because it is such a new industry. Most colleges and universities don’t have classes regarding SEO, and it can currently be tough to find a writer who specializes in SEO content only. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be too difficult if you do a bit of planning ahead of time. It’s important to understand the industry and think outside of the box when it comes time to hire.

SEO Interview Questions and Possible Answers

One of the biggest things to keep in mind when hiring writers is your goal. You want to have a budget for writers and then decide how much training you’re willing to offer. If you want to jump into very advanced articles right away, you may have to pay a little bit more for a specialized writer. If you’re willing to hire someone who is a good writer and give him/her some time to learn, the way you interview might chance.

Below are some common interview questions that work well if you’re looking to hire an SEO content writer, as well as some answers that might help you make a decision:

1. Tell us a little bit about your background—where you went to school, why you chose the field you did, some of your past experience, etc.

Answer: In all honesty, someone doesn’t have to be an SEO expert to be a great SEO writer. You have to remember that it may take him/her a while to write an article because research can be tough, but it isn’t impossible to come up with a great article. It might take a while for a writer to really get a good grip on the subject, but it can happen. As stated above, it’s all about your goals and how long you have to invest in a writer.

2. Have you ever contributed guest content to a website in the past? If so, what was your process for pitching? How did you find new editors to work with? In other words, how do you analyze the sites you choose to write for?

Answer: This is something that can be taught and learned pretty easily, so I wouldn’t say this is a make or break. A good answer would be something about taking time to get to know the site by commenting and sharing content, and then sending a pitch complete with sample articles for the editor to check out. A great way to find new sites is to continually keep up with social media and check out the sites that your connections are associated with.

3. Do you work well on your own, or do you prefer to work in groups?

Answer: This was something I was asked before and it made me think. For this job, it’s important to be happy working alone and setting your own daily goals.

4. Do you have any background knowledge working with SEO related topics? If so, how do you continue to make sure you are creative and not regurgitating the same information as other blogs out there?

Answer: I typically go around to different blogs to find a topic, and then I take that topic and find a bunch of articles regarding that topic. I try to take bits and pieces of each, and the majority of the time a new angle or opinion will come to me through all of the research.

5. What do you know about your target audience, and how do you really make sure you are leaving a lasting impression?

Answer: This is a tough question to answer, but most good candidates will explain that the target audience is typically small business marketing departments. This of course depends on the type of company that the candidate wrote for in the past (which might very well be slightly different than your current audience).

6. Do you use any tools or specific strategies when writing?

Answer: There are tons and tons of different tools that a writer can use. Mentioning any sort of social tools for promotion (Buffer, SocialBro, etc.) is a great way to show that he/she understands the industry. Any talk of using analytics and analyzing CTR is also a great (and fairly advanced) answer. This is one of those questions that you’ll have a good feeling about right when it is answered.

7. What types of social networking techniques do you use to make sure your content is always earning visibility?

Answer: This is a great opportunity for the candidate to talk about the importance of Google+. This network is only going to get more important as Google begins to alter SERPs based on connections and shares, and this is something a writer should be aware of when it comes time to get involved with authorship and social sharing. You can learn more about authorship here.

8. How would you handle working with different clients?

Working with different clients often means having to change not only the topic of your work, but even the tone and style. This is where a very good writer is going to be your goal, and the research about the topic can be learned.

Were there any questions that you found incredibly helpful? If you were once a candidate, what questions seemed to catch you off guard?

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO agency and local SEO company.

7 Best Tips of Mozcon 2012

Mozcon is one of the best online marketing and SEO conferences in the country and is held each summer in Seattle. It is run by the SEO software company SEOMoz and brings in some of the top speakers in the SEO and online marketing industry. This year was the biggest event yet with over 700 attendees and over 20 amazing speakers. I wanted to share some of my top takeaways that may be able to help you with your online marketing campaigns.

1. Find Amazon Wishlists of Influential Bloggers
One tip shared by Paddy Moogan of Distilled is to develop relationships with influential bloggers in your industry is to find their Amazon Wishlist and send them something on their list with a friendly note.

2. Mash up Interests for Content
Ian Lurie from Portent discussed using Facebook Ads to research things that your target market is interested in. When you enter an interest, Facebook shows related interests like Battlestar Gallactica when you enter the interest of computer programming. You can then mash the ideas together for an article about Programming Lessons from Battlestar Gallactica.

3. Choose Short Men
Rand Fishkin discussed data by a dating site that showed that short men received a disproportionately low number of requests and so the opportunity to find a good match is greater if you contact them. Similarly, there are a lot of marketing opportunities that receive less attention but provide significant rewards. One such opportunity may be in video marketing since a lot fewer people create video content compared to text content.

4. Do Real Company Stuff (#RCS)
Wil Reynolds made an excellent argument that many SEOs took advantage of Google’s algorithm to improve rankings by doing things like 3 way link exchanges and dofollow comment links. Google was embarrassed and are getting rid of a lot of the loopholes that were exploited for years. The solution is to do things that real companies do, like conducting a study or sponsoring a good cause.

5. Create Ebooks to Earn Links
Matt Cutts recently revealed in an interview with Eric Enge that Google may discount infographic links to some degree in the future. While infographic can still be effective in earning links, an alternative mentioned by Cyrus Shepard is to create Ebook instead. They are often less expensive to product and provide valuable content to people.

6. Google Plus is a Useful Tool
Much has been made in the media about Google+ being a ghost town, but as AJ Kohn points out, it is here to stay. There are several advantages of using Google+ as a tool for your online marketing. People who circle your brand will see a lot more of your listings in their search results. Additionally, links to your site in Google+ posts are helpful and are followed links.

7. Get in Front of Influential People on the Web
Tom Critchlow, who is leaving Distilled to work for Google, made a winning argument for how the SEO industry can respond to the changing tide of the search landscape. Instead of rewarding links alone, Google is moving toward rewarding things that advertising agencies are better at doing like creating remarkable content. To survive against the ad giants who have been doing creative for decades, the SEO industry must focus on what it does best which is to build partnerships with influencers on the Web like Tim Ferris.

Lessons From Getting Hit By The Google Panda Update

After hearing so many stories of people who have lost a huge percentage of traffic from the Google Panda Update, I finally experienced the dreaded Panda first-hand. On October 14th, traffic on Cool Marketing Stuff took a nose dive.

panda update

According to Matt Cutts, there was a minor Panda update on October 14th. Over the last month, compared to the previous month, unique visitors fell by 33.4%.

Google’s Panda Update which first hit in February 2011, was designed to reward quality content with higher rankings while pushing down low quality results. One of the targets was content farms, or sites that generated large amounts of low quality content with the goal of ranking for a lot of long tail phrases.

Panda is different from other updates because it uses a combination of humans who rate sites for quality and machine learning which identifies patterns in the data. This video from SEOMoz explains the history of Panda.

Wistia

There are a few factors that I think may have triggered Panda on this site:

Syndication of Creative Commons Articles

In the past, I have republished articles on this blog that were previously published on other sites. These articles were from sites that put their work into Creative Commons, which grants permission for content like an article or photo to be shared or republished as long as there is attribution given to the content creator. Unfortunately, many sites abused this practice and Panda may hit sites that have a lot of content that is published from other sites.

Low Quality Content

In order to improve the quality of search results, the Panda update may be applied to sites that have pages with very little valuable content. In the early days I have published some blog posts that were extremely short such as a marketing quote or a couple sentences on why I like a video. This may have been viewed as low quality or “thin” content. Fortunately this can be easily fixed by removing any thin pages on your site. According to Google, “Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.” Another thing that may have lowered the quality of content is accepting guest posts. While, guest posts can be a good way to generate content on your site, often times the content is subpar and I end up regretting accepting an offer for a guest post. While, I don’t think it would be right to remove any guest posts that I have already agreed to publish, I plan to be more picky about future guest article submissions.

High Bounce Rate

My bounce rate has been almost 79% in the last month. According to Avanish Kaushik, almost 80% of visitors who came to this site threw up and left. Google can access bounce rate data and if people frequently return to the search results page after visiting your site, this can signal that people are not finding what they are looking for and your site may be low quality. One thing that can help with lowering bounce rate on a blog is to have links to similar posts at the end of your blog posts. This can encourage people to read another article and keep people on your site.

High Number of Ads

On this site, I currently have about 12 ads in the sidebar. One thing that Google is taking aim at is sites that have a high advertisement to content ratio. Many low quality sites are filled with Adsense ads with a small area of actual content. So one way to reduce this ratio is to eliminate some ads. Although many of my ads here are helpful, such as book recommendations, it wouldn’t hurt to reduce the amount of ads. In recent months, I have been making about $30-40 per month from Amazon affiliates from the sidebar book banners.

I’m looking forward to experimenting with these changes to see if I can recover.

Photo by Rev Dan Catt

5 Tips For Getting Starting With SEO For Your Business

by Ran Nir

SGoogle homeearch engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume of traffic to a site from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, AOL and Bing via unpaid search results. Fundamentally, the higher your site is ranking for a particular search term, the more traffic you’ll get. Therefore your goal is to increase your ranking within the search engine guidelines as it will directly influence your revenue.

1. Save On the Site’s Development – Whether you will own your SEO work or hire a 3rd party agency to manage it, optimizing your site will cost you time and money. You should also bear in mind that in all likelihood the first version of your site won’t always hit the nail on the head so consider launching with the absolute basic of features in order to keep a decent budget for marketing and later on for site tweaks.

2. Don’t Save on Hosting – While saving on the initial development cost is important, investing in quality and reliable hosting is as important in my view. Ensuring your website loads quickly is crucial for your optimization success and for user experience. Dedicated hosting packages (unlike shared hosting packages) will ensure that your site’s performance isn’t depended on other sites on the server, your IP address is likely to be fixed (you could also buy a fixed IP address separately) and due to the quick loading time the engines will find all your pages in working order when crawling your site.

3. Get the Domain Name Right – Buying the right domain name is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make at the very start. While there are many tips and tricks for buying the right domain, I would suggest buying a descriptive name which unlike a generic name can make life just a little easier when optimizing the site. An example for a descriptive name will be CoolMarketingStuff.com, while Google is an example of a generic domain name.

4. List the Keywords You’d Like to Rank for – Normally optimizing your site means shortlisting the keywords which you’d like to rank for and optimizing your site around those keywords. You should pick the keywords which describe your product or service and most importantly pick the keywords which are likely to convert well for the business. For example, if you are selling mobile phone covers and you know that unlike your competitors you’re not competitive when it comes to leather covers, but you are when it comes to plastic covers, optimize your site around the second term.

5. Use the Metadata Tags Correctly – Once you have shortlisted your keywords you would need to insert them into your pages using the metadata tag location. Each page should really be optimized around one key term. To optimize your site for Google, limit the page title (also known as window title) to 70 characters and the page description to 140 characters. Once you’ve added or updated the metadata, use a preview tool to ensure you haven’t exceeded the number of characters and that it reads well. Here’s how the metadata comes into view when users search for a specific term:

Google Search

This has been a guest post by by Ran, marketing manager of Photo Paper Direct.

Photo credit