Question: How do you determine how much value there is in the head of a keyword space compared to the tail of the same marketplace?
Answer: The best way to know is to have an authoritative site that ranks across a wide swath of related keywords in your marketplace and track conversions. Of course, it is expensive to create a lot of high quality content, so there are are shortcuts you can take to understanding the depth and breadth of a keyword market.
Search Auto-Completion &: Related Searches
Many of the major search engines show related searches and try to auto-complete your search queries. This should give you a list of additional popular search phrases that are a bit deeper than the core head keywords.
Competitive Research Tools
Some keyword tools, like KeyCompete, allow you to buy a list of keywords that competitors are bidding on.
- If a site is focused on your vertical you can grab all the words from their KeyCompete bid campaign.
- If the site is broad you can search KeyCompete for TheirDomain.com?keyword
You can also use competitive research tools like Compete.com Search Analytics to see what terms a competitor ranks for in the organic search results, and what percent of their site traffic comes from each keyword. Some keyword research tools like WordZe also allow you to download up to 10,000 keywords at a time.
Use Google to Filter Keywords by Value
After grabbing a list of competitive keywords you can upload them to the Google Traffic Estimator tool to see which terms are the most valuable. Also, you can submit the words to the traffic estimator tool using broad, phrase, and exact match. Comparing the ratios of the values of the different match types should give you a good idea as to the depth of each keyword.
Use Google to Organize Your Keywords
Some keyword tools end up generating more keywords than you can easily organize. You can use the Google AdWords Editor's Keyword Grouper to help organize keywords into more manageable and targeted groups.
Track Your Google AdWords Results & Refine Your Keyword Strategy
As you bid on keywords, if you leave them broad match, your ad will be displayed for many related keywords. You can see what additional terms triggered your ads using the Google AdWords Search Query Performance Report.
Reinvesting in the Tail of Search
If you create content for your most valuable phrases and use the profits to create more content for related ideas your content will rank for keywords you never even thought to target.
When you create a new page of content in a valuable space make sure you optimize it for a basket of related keywords, by posting your URL to Google's keyword suggestion tool to see what they think the page is about. If they suggest terms that are not on your page, either insert those keywords in your content or create addition pages targeting those keyword phrases.
Track Your Organic Search Results
Use your server logs to discover high value phrases that are not too competitive and do not show up in the paid keyword research tools. If you find yourself ranking #7 for a page that does not target a specific term, perhaps you can rank #1 or #2 for it and for related phrases if you make pages that are focused on a tighter niche and are more tailored to those specific queries.
If you monetize via AdSense set custom channels for different parts of your site, and if you are monetizing via other techniques make sure you track your conversions.
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