By Cort Tafoya, San Francisco based SEO consultant and trainer. He frequently guest speaks about search marketing and digital analytics.

 

Keyword research has a direct link to the ROI of your SEO investment. The wrong selection of phrases, when applied to your web pages and blog posts, will not produce the same volume and quality of customers than if had you chosen your SEO keywords correctly.

This is especially important when you consider that SEO marketing, like all marketing, likely has a fixed monthly budget that any given company is willing to make.

So when each month’s SEO budget is exhausted, that’s it. There’s no redo, there’s no going back. Content and technical SEO work is all bought and paid for. You get one at bat per month, and then you move on.

If you do the right keyword research then you’ll be making the most out of each at bat.

Over the last 5-6 years I’ve been fortunate to gather a ton of SEO campaign experience, heavily focused on content and keyword selection.

Below are three tips that I strongly suggest all SEO teams and marketers apply to ensure they’re targeting the most profitable phrases for the business they represent.

1. Always target the bottom of the funnel first

 

Imagine you’re a SEO specialist working for a company that sells real estate in Phoenix, Arizona. You could write SEO articles targeting phrases that speak to how great it is to live in Phoenix – phrases like Phoenix vacation ideas, Phoenix schools, Phoenix outdoor adventures etc.

But will this content attract people who are thinking about buying real estate in Phoenix?

It’s a bit of a stretch since those who want to vacation there, or already live there and are looking for fun activities are more likely Googling those phrases.

Start at the bottom of the funnel with phrases like “real estate for sale in Phoenix.” Maybe the volume is less, maybe the competition is higher, but these are visitors primed to convert.

And these visitors will deliver the highest ROI. It’s also important to start at the bottom of the funnel because you don’t always have the 4-8 months needed to prove your worth as a SEO marketer.

Targeting phrases that could produce a few sales early on is critical.

2. As the saying goes, “The best place to hide a body is on Google’s page 2”

 

Nobody goes to page 2 (or roughly 80% of searches don’t result in a page 2 experience). This means that a solid amount of SEO effort which gets your web page or blog to position 11-20 is still not even close to being good enough.

It doesn’t matter if you started at position 50 and made a 39 spot increase, the work and the piece of content you produced isn’t going to generate traffic.

At the same time, this is exactly the type of keyword you need to focus on. If you’re that close to page 1, you really don’t need to do much more to bump it up to the 5-7 range.

One tactic is to write three to four 600 word articles that use the keyword phrase in the title tag and headers. Chose longer tail versions of the phrase or slight variations when doing the on-page SEO of these “micro blogs.”

Then, within these micro blogs, use anchor rich text back to the article of web page in position 11. Google will more strongly associate this content with the keyword phrase, and likely bump it up to page 1.

In conclusion, focus highly on important phrases that are in the 11-20 range. They’re likely getting few, if any visits, yet they’re so close to creating an impact and increasing your leads.

3. Look for changes in how your product or service is talked about

 

When I first created my consulting website I made multiple keyword targeting mistakes.

First I decided to stake out a corner that was far too niche. I targeted the phrase “inbound marketing contractor” which literally no one was Googling.

When I went for something a bit more popular, “SEO consultant” I thought I was golden. This was the primary phrase I targeted for over a year, and it did generate a good amount of leads.

However, I used Google trends to explore what I thought was a secondary phrase “SEO expert.” It turned out that “SEO expert” had much more volume than SEO consultant.

The lesson here, you’re probably not going to know the exact vernacular your customers use to search for your services. Because of this, you need to use Keyword Planner and Google Trends early and then check up on your targeted phrases every 3 months to see if search volume data has changed.

In conclusion, I hope these three keyword targeting tips help you produce the most ROI from your SEO campaign and blogging work. Happy hunting.