Every website has a list of Golden Keywords that they'd love to rank #1 across the board for. For instance, I'm sure Search Engine People would love to rank #1 for a keyword like SEO firm. The lifetime potential of that single keyword is enormous! With 201,000 searches a month, a site ranking in the top 1-5 spots could reasonably expect to see a huge surge in traffic. Lets say Search Engine People was ranking #2 for SEO company (personalization efforts of the search engines aside); it wouldn't surprise me at all if that one keyword generated 100,000+ unique visitors for them each month. Even if only 10% of those visitors converted that's 10,000 new leads each month. Even if only 1% of those actually became customers that's 100 new customers each month!
But here's the catch"Search Engine People isn't the only SEO company in the world. I myself have an SEO company in Boston and I too would love to see my business ranking nationally for a keyword with such potential. In fact, so would the several hundred other SEO companies in the US (not to mention the rest of the world)"we would all like to be #1 for SEO company. But like Highlander there can be only one; so where does that leave the rest of us?
A lot of your SEO campaign, from how you optimize your website to what kind of topics you write about, is based on your keyword research. How are people searching for the products and services you have to offer? In theory there could be no limit to the way people search for something but its just not reasonable to expect that you can effectively target them all with your SEO campaign. So as site owners (or SEO providers) we have to pick and choose which SEO keywords are the best fit for our sites. These sweet spot keywords are what is going to help keep our doors open while we chase after the Golden Keywords with our long term efforts.
As search volume goes down so does the competition level. that's why its typically much easier to do well for long tail keywords in the short term; there aren't as many people competing for the top spot. For instance, full service SEO only gets 260 searches a month, a far cry from the 201,000. Since that keyword has less potential value than SEO company fewer companies are fighting over it meaning it should be easier to rank #1. But with only 260 searches a month any company that focuses primarily on that keyword is going to be missing out on a lot of opportunity and revenue. So what a company like Search Engine People or my own SEO company do (and what we try to do for our clients) is hone in on those sweet spot keywords that still get enough search volume to help us keep our doors open but aren't so competitive that we can never do well organically for them.
Some sweet spot keywords for an SEO company might include
- SEO services (135,000)
- small business SEO (12,100)
- SEO solutions (2,900)
- search engine optimization marketing (22,000)
These keywords still get a decent amount of search volume (which means traffic and revenue for the site in the long term) but they are also keywords a site could do well for organically. It could take years to rank #1 for SEO company but SEO solutions might be a much smaller mountain to climb.
Its so important that when you are undergoing your keyword research you stop and think about how competitive you can actually be for a particular keyword. This has a lot to do with the life cycle of your website. Brand new websites (less than 2 years old) wont be able to effectively compete against the industry leaders and big name brands that dominate their niche for those super broad, highly competitive keywords simply because they are so young. There are a lot of factors we can control with regards to SEO but one that we cant is time. When time is on your side your SEO campaign is that much more effective. On the other hand, more established websites might no longer have to rely completely on the long tail keywords to drive business. The number of sweet spot keywords might grow as their online brand and trust grows which helps get them one step closer to the top for their Golden Keywords.