Thursday, December 9, 2010

How can Competition be a Factor in Driving Traffic to our Website?

Now that we are done with keyword evaluation, the next thing that we need to consider in our keyword research is the competition.  I’ve divided the competition analysis into three different subtopics and these are the following:
  1. Keyword Evaluation
    1. Search Volume
    2. Search Trends
    3. Commercial Value
  2. Competition Analysis
    1. Competition Volume
    2. On-Page Factors
    3. Off-Page Factors
  3. Exploration
Competition analysis is our way of analyzing the competition of our potential keywords.  Some of our potential keywords may have very high competition and it may be impossible for us to compete with our competitors using that keyword.  That’s why we have to be careful in analyzing the competition in our target niche.

Our aim is for our website to be displayed in the front page of the Google search result page for us to have a steady stream of traffic.  The only problem is there are only 10 listings in the front page for each keyword phrase and there are often many websites competing for those top 10 spots.

For us to be able to reach that goal there is really no need for us to have a perfect website.  What we need to do is to just be better than our competitors.

Having a very attractive design and a very interesting topic may be a good factor in driving traffic to our website.  The problem is that if the competition is very high and impossible to penetrate, then all of those factors become useless.  That’s why we have to be careful in picking our battles for us to avoid frustrations and money loss.

In my next article, we’re going to discuss competition volume.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Commercial Intent Indicators

Last time, we discussed what commercial intent is.  In this article, I am going to discuss some techniques or tools for us to determine the commercial intent of our keyword.  These are: Google AdWords, Microsoft OCI (Online Commercial Indicator), products related to our keyword in EBay, products related to our keyword in Amazon, E-Stores or Online Shopping sites, and Affiliate Programs.  Here are some of the steps in using the different commercial intent indicators.

Google Adwords

In Google, key-in our keyword first and see if there are a lot of ads in the results page. It means that there are a lot of advertisers who are willing to pay just to promote their website.  On the other hand, if there are no ads in the results page, it is a good indicator that the keyword that we chose is not a buying keyword. 

Microsoft OCI

Go to the website of Microsoft OCI and key-in our keyword. Remember to select the query option.  Then press the Go button.

As you can see, the keyword “buy weight loss equipment” has a 96% probability that the keyword is a buying keyword, while the keyword “free music” has a 78% probability that it is not a buying keyword.

It really shows that the “free” keyword is not really a good choice of keyword.  I think that this is a very helpful tool because it shows quantifiable values to measure a keyword’s commercial intent.

Products Related to our Keyword in EBay, Amazon, E-Stores or Online Shopping Sites

For websites whose main intent is to sell products, a good indicator that the keyword has a high commercial intent is to try to search for the keyword in EBay, Amazon, or E-Stores or Online Shopping sites.  It is a good indicator if there are a good number of search results in these sites.  More search results imply that there are a lot of people selling the product.  As a result, a lot of people are making money with that keyword.  Thus, it has a high commercial intent.

Affiliate Programs

Another way of checking our keywords’ commercial intent is through the number of affiliate programs available in the web.  If you are not familiar with affiliate programs yet, I found this site which pretty much explains everything about affiliate programs. 

To try to see the number of affiliate programs related to our keyword, I do a Google search and key-in my keyword plus the word “affiliate program”.  Then I check the top sites to see if the sites have affiliate programs.  A link is normally found at the bottom part of their websites.  

Just like EBay, Amazon, E-Stores or Online Shopping site indicators, the more search results we get, the higher the commercial intent is.  

Those are basically the different ways on how to determine the commercial intent of our keyword.  We are free to use any of the techniques mentioned.  Maybe the Microsoft OCI is enough for us to determine the keyword’s commercial intent.  For some of us, the Google AdWords is more important.  Personally, I prefer to use all of the techniques mentioned and compare the results that I got with each to verify everything.

That covers everything about keyword evaluation.  My next article will be about keyword competition so make sure to watch out for that.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Keyword Evaluation: Commercial Intent

Our last topic regarding keyword evaluation is keyword commercial intent.  Commercial intent means asking if the user searching for the keyword is in a buying mood.  Obviously, for most purposes, what we want is for online users to not only visit our website but to also buy the products that we are offering or avail of the services that we are offering.

Here are some of the keywords that we must not use as keywords because these keywords have very low commercial intent:
  • Free
  • Torrent
  • Download

If users key in these keywords in Google, obviously, they are not in the mood to buy something.  On the other hand, here are keywords that we can use:
  • Buy
  • Cheap
  • Review
  • Bargain

Keywords containing these terms have high commercial intent because users keying these terms in Google are most likely to be in the mood to buy something.  Of course it is not going to be this obvious though, that’s why we have to be familiar with the buying cycle.

The Interest Phase

The first phase in buying cycle is the “Interest” phase.   In this phase, I as a buyer am not quite sure yet if I’m going to buy or not.  I’m still in the process of looking for general information about the thing that I’m interested in.  An example of this is when I became interested in learning about digital photography.  During this time, I did a broad search in Google.  I was searching for the keyword “digital photography”. 

During the process of searching for articles related to digital photography, I became interested in buying a digital camera but haven’t decided on what brand to buy yet.

The Research Phase 

The next phase is the “Research” phase.  During this phase, I am starting to decide that I want to buy a digital camera but I want to have the best brand for me.  I’ll start to search for more specific keywords and start searching for reviews and brand comparisons.

The Buying Phase

The next phase after doing some research is the “Buying” phase.  During this phase, I was already able to decide on what brand to buy and all I wanted to know was where I can get the best price to buy the product. The keywords that I keyed into Google were “cheap Canon 1000d cameras”, “buy canon cameras 1000d”, and “canon 1000D price”.  After finding the cheapest price, that was when I purchased the product.

That’s basically the buying cycle.  Of course, for some people this can take very long as they are very deliberate and will spend days reading reviews and comparing different products.  On the other hand, other people go through this cycle in a span of minutes or hours and do impulse buying decisions.  Either way, we all go through this process when deciding to buy something.

Looking at the buying cycle, I can say that the broader the keyword is, the higher the traffic and the higher competition I will get. However, this will lead to a low conversion or low sales.  On the other hand, having a very specific keyword will lead to lower traffic and lower competition but have a higher chance of selling a product.

Having a broad keyword does not mean that you made a bad keyword choice though.  If the set of keywords that you have are fully optimized to your web pages, can compete against your competitors, and have a high conversion rate, then, I think you’re on the right track.

In my next article, we are going to discuss the tools that we can use in getting the commercial value of the keywords that we are going to use.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Keyword Evaluation: Search Trends

As promised, we’re going to discuss search trends today.  If you’ve read my post,  Let’s Do Some Keyword Research, I mentioned there that one of the factors in finding our “perfect keyword” is that it must have an upward trend or is consistently searched for.  That is what search trends is all about.  We want a keyword that people will still be searching for, months and years from now.

The tool that I used in getting the search trend is Google Insight.  It is a very simple tool with a graph that shows the trend of my keyword.  Here is an example.

As you can see, the keyword that I chose is my target market, photography.  The graph shows that it has a steady trend which is a good sign for me.  

Here is another example. This time, I chose the keyword “Friendster”.

As you can see, the graph shows that the trend for this keyword is on the decline and we don’t want a keyword that is on the decline trend.

I also made another test and this time, the keyword is “Halloween costumes”.

As you can see, the graph shows that the trend for this keyword inclines on the month of October.  This is what we call a seasonal keyword.  It is okay to use this kind of keyword but we have to make sure that the keyword is not on its peak nor is in the declined state.

To summarize things, what we want is a keyword that is on a stable trend or on an upward trend.  If we want to use a seasonal keyword, we have to make sure that the keyword is on its low point and make sure that the keyword is not on its peak.

Now that we’ve discussed search trends, the next topic I'm going to discuss will be about commercial intent, so make sure to watch out for that.