Saturday, April 22, 2017

Keyword Research

Keyword research enables site owners to choose keywords when constructing and optimizing a website (page). Keyword research is also extensively used to manage PPC advertising campaigns or if you are looking to research and identify profitable niche markets.

When performing keyword research for constructing and optimizing a website (page) you are looking to select search terms that will reach your target audience. One of the common mistakes made by some SEOs is to avoid choosing keywords that are very competitive. Searchers tend to use a lot modifiers when they search and the more competitive the search term the more likely they are to use a modifier. Removing the possibility of ranking well for these modified searches is not a good idea. Competition can be a factor in deciding how to target a specific search term but you should never ignore a search term simply because you believe it is too competitive.

There are two basic tools for the site owner:

1. Digital Point Solutions Keyword Suggestion Tool


Digital Point’s online keyword tool compares Overture and WordTracker data side by side. It is free, quick and easy to use although it lacks WordTracker’s more advanced features. Here is a partial screen shot.

2. Google Adwords Keyword Tool

You will need an AdWords account to use Google Adwords Keyword Tool but signing up is easy and well worth it just to use the tool. Although primarily designed for AdWords it is also ideal for use as a simple keyword suggestion tool. The big advantage is of course that it is using the latest Google data and you can find and select keywords based on this data. You can create keywords from a url (i.e. one page), a whole site, a keyword(s) that you enter or for AdWords users the most relevant terms in your account. The results are shown by relevance but can be ordered by Advertiser Competition or Search Volume on a scale of 1 to 5. You can also download the results as a .csv (for excel) file which makes it easy to compile master lists.

Here is a partial screen shot of a list from a keyword.


Here is a partial screen shot of a list from a url.


Most site owners will find the above tools sufficient for their needs but if you want to investigate other tools there are basically two kinds, keyword analytical tools and subscription based tools. Here are some examples with a link to the product and a link to a review of the product.

Keyword Analytical Tools:

  • Keyword Analyzer Review
  • The Keyword Bible Review
  • The Dowser Review

Subscription based:

  • WordTracker Review
  • Keyword Discovery Review
  • Keyword Intelligence Review

A word of caution though if you try these tools. The major search engines (Google,Yahoo and MSN) do not make their raw data available to anyone so these products have to obtain data from somewhere else. For example WordTracker uses data from the Metacrawler and Dogpile metacrawlers which represents a very small and not very representative sample of searches. Not only that but in order to estimate figures like the predicted number of searches for a keyword an extrapolation has to be made. In WordTracker’s case they assume Metacrawler and Dogpile account for 0.86% of all search engine queries (a dubious statistic in itself) and scale up the numbers in their database accordingly. This has the effect of compounding any errors in the original dataset and at the very least means that these derived numbers should not be taken too seriously.

A most important source of keywords that is often overlooked is your server logs. Regularly mine your server log data to find the search terms people are actually using to find your site and use these terms to construct new pages or modify existing ones. You can read more about this process in these two posts Long Tail Search and Long Tail Search Tool.

March 1st, 2016 Wordtracker have introduced a free keyword suggestion tool that will generate up to 100 related keywords.

May 11, 2016 Wordze is a new subscription based tool which has some interesting features.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

G profile video

Short case study showing some rankings & traffic.

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Search Engine Friendly Urls

It is important to have search engine friendly urls if you want your pages spidered and indexed by the search engines but what does having search engine friendly urls actually mean? Let’s take a look at what the three major search engines say about urls:

Google has three things to say on the subject in its Webmaster Guidelines:

1. If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a “?” character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.

2. Allow search bots to crawl your sites without session IDs or arguments that track their path through the site. These techniques are useful for tracking individual user behavior, but the access pattern of bots is entirely different. Using these techniques may result in incomplete indexing of your site, as bots may not be able to eliminate URLs that look different but actually point to the same page.

3. Don’t use “&id=” as a parameter in your URLs, as we don’t include these pages in our index.

Yahoo in their Search Indexing FAQ say:

Do you index dynamically generated pages (e.g., asp, .shtml, PHP, “?”, etc.)?

Yahoo! does index dynamic pages, but for page discovery, our crawler mostly follows static links. We recommend you avoid using dynamically generated links except in directories that are not intended to be crawled/indexed (e.g., those should have a /robots.txt exclusion).

MSN’s Guidelines for successful indexing say:

Keep your URLs simple and static. Complicated or frequently changed URLs are difficult to use as link destinations. For example, the URL is easier for MSNBot to crawl and for people to type than a long URL with multiple extensions.

The message is clear, static urls are better than dynamic but if you have a dynamic site the urls must be as simple as possible, with only one or two query strings and no session IDs.

A url that might look like this:

Should preferably look like this:

How you achieve this depends on whether you are starting out with a new site or have an established site with existing complex urls.

If it is a new site then search engine friendly urls must be built into the design criteria. How this will be done depends on the programming language. For example if you planned to use PHP then you might make use of the PATH_INFO variable or if you use ASP.NET then you could modify the Global.asax file.

If you plan to use a content management system (CMS) then make sure that it generates search engine friendly urls out of the box. The Content Management Comparison Tool has a check box for ‘Friendly URLs’ if you are researching CMS tools.

A completely different approach (not approved of by geeks but worth consideration if you are designing your own site as a non-professional) is to create static HTML web pages from a database or spreadsheets but not in real-time. WebMerge for example works with any database or spreadsheet that can export in tabular format such as FileMaker Pro, Microsoft Access, and AppleWorks. Using HTML template pages WebMerge makes a new HTML page from the data in each record of the exported file. It can also create index pages with links to other pages and generated pages can be hosted without the need for a database.

If it is an existing site then problematic urls can be converted to simple urls in real-time. If you are on an Apache server then you can use mod_rewrite to rewrite requested URLs on the fly. This requires knowledge of regular expressions which can be rather daunting if you are not a programmer. Fortunately there is an abundance of mod_rewrite expertise at RentACoder if you get stuck. If you are on Internet Information Server (IIS) then you can use something like ISAPI_Rewrite to rewrite your urls which also requires knowledge of regular expressions.

What ever your solution you should try to incorporate your keywords in the urls and only ever use hyphens, never an underscore or space.

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