How To Rank for Specific Keywords

How To Rank for Specific Keywords

Whenever I start a new web project for a client, I ask them to choose 10-15 desired keywords and/or phrases they would like to rank well for in the search listings.

Since I am in the process of optimizing a few client web sites, I thought it would be fitting to write about how to rank well for specific keywords.

In this article I will show you how I select certain phrases based on search volume, how to check search competition, and then what web sites I use to build links.

Tools to Check Search Volume

Some search terms are not even worth ranking for because they are never searched, but others are searched quite often and have low competition, so they are relatively easy to rank for.

When deciding what search phrases you would like to rank for, there are a few tools that can help determine daily search volume and search competition.

The SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool shows you the approximate daily search volume for Yahoo, Google, and MSN. Depending on the niche, a phrase that is searched more than 50 times per day is worth trying to rank for.

Check Your Competition

The best way to check competition is to do a search for your desired term and then check out the PR and backlinks of the top 5-10 listings. I recommend using iWebTool’s Free Webmaster Tools to check the PR and the number of backlinks using.

Generally, any search phrase with less than a million results is not super competitive and is relatively easy to rank for (assuming your onsite SEO is on par).

Building Links for Specific Terms

When you are building links, always make sure the anchor text is one of the keywords or phrases you are trying to rank for.

For example, instead of using “Nate Whitehill dot Com” as my anchor text, I would use “Business Development.” Several top commentators on John Chow’s blog use this technique and it definitely helps with SEO.

There are many places to build links. Paying for links using a service such as Text-Link-Ads is ususally the fastest route, but if you are on a budget, here are your main options:

  • Free Article Distribution Sites (i.e.,, Ezine Articles,
  • Free Directories – here is a list of free web directories. Some may require you to become an editor to submit a link.
  • Blogs (i.e., Try appearing in their Top Commentators or ask for a link exchange)
  • On forums that allow you to post links in your signature, make sure you use a keyword-rich link to your site.

There is a fine line between building a large link campaign and link-spam, so make sure thay any link you leave is not out of context on the site and that is under the acceptable terms of use policy according to the web site owner.

Assuming that your onsite keywords are present in the title, META tags, headers tags, and the body of your web site, after you have a solid link campaign, you should eventually start to rank well for your desired search terms or phrases. You can learn more about onpage optimization from my recent SEO case study.

Link Trains: Are There Any Real Benefits?

Link Trains: Are There Any Real Benefits?

Over the past month, the Technorati-Fave and MyBlogLog Link Trains have taken the blogosphere by storm. I was amazed to see how far these trains stretched and ultimately, how many people participated in them. A lot of people have been questioning the real benefit to these link trains and if any of the original sites in the link train are seeing any legitimate traffic increases.

The Technorati-Fave Link Train

Gary Lee was inspired to start the Technorati-Fave Link Train by Maki’s (Dosh Dosh) successful break into the Top 100 Favorite Blogs on Technorati. Gary Lee reported that he saw his number of favorites increase from 6 to well over 300 within 2 weeks. This was enough to put him at (presently) the 33rd most favorited blog on Technorati. Not a bad increase.

I have seen my blog’s number of favorites go from 10 to 189 in the past 2 weeks. I broke into the Top 100 Favorited blogs a few days ago and presently, I am at #85. According to Gary Lee, 12 of the original 23 blogs on the Technorati-Fave Link Train have cracked into the Technorati Top 100 Favorite Blogs. That is quite impressive.

However, the question still remains, are there any real benefits? Any additional traffic? Of course, all that participated has seen their Technorati rankings skyrocket. Many of the original members of the link train now have well over 300 blogs linking to them.

Aside from the ego benefit of being able to say “my blog is a top 100 favorite blog,” there are not any real traffic benefits. The number of traffic referrals from Technorati have been little, to none. It may be a different case with the top 10 or so favorited blogs, but they receive so much traffic as it is, it probably is still a negligible difference.

The MyBlog Link Train

Shawn Knight started the MyBlogLog Link train a few days ago and it has already taken off with incredible force. This link train seems to have more potential benefits. Of course, the aim is to increase your MyBlogLog community membership, and hopefully, propel a few of the blogs into the Hot Communities page.

I am happy to report that I have seen my commuity membership increase from about 40 to over 130 in the past few days. This was enough to send my blog to the top spot in the Hot Communities page the same day I posted the link train. That sent about 50 new visitors my way, and here is the amazing part – the average pageview per visitor from MyBlogLog was 9.77. That is insane. I saw about 500 extra pageviews that day.

Another great aspect of the MyBlogLog Link Train is that the traffic is often highly targeted, so the visitors will most likely stick around more.

The Real Benefit of Link Trains

Perhaps the real benefit to link trains are not the *amount* of traffic that it could potentially send your blog, but the opportunity to expose your blog to new people in the ‘sphere. Both Gary Lee and I agree – we have discovered some excellent new blogs this way. I also know that many other people have found my blog through one of the trains and I would like to officially welcome my new visitors now.

Only time will tell whether the link trains will have any other benefits, but so far, it looks like the exposure of many new blogs has been worth it.

PageRank Update Officially Underway


According to a few people in-the-know, including Mr. Gary Lee and Maki from Dosh Dosh, Google is now in the process of updating their data centers to reflect the new PageRankings.

My first official PageRank is a PR5, which I am quite happy about.

The first Google data center that is reported to have updated is:

Here is a tool you can use to check your PR as Google updates all their datacenters: Google PageRank Check by Datacenter.

Note, the tool above is NOT a prediction tool – it is an accurate reflection of PageRank according to Google’s 72 data centers worldwide.

Other notable new PageRanks:

Career Ramblings – PR6

Net Business Blog – PR5

John Chow – PR6 (previously PR4)

The Thinking Blog – PR5

Learn more about the Google PageRank update.

Update – It is now understood that more than 1 data center has been updated and all of the Google data centers should reflect the new Page Rank this weekend.

5 Steps You Must Take Towards Self-Employment

5 Steps You Must Take Towards Self-Employment

Being self-employed is not for everyone. This kind of lifestyle is certainly a riskier proposition than working at a traditional job. I have just recently become self-employed. Before that, I had been working odd jobs and running my web-dev business, infinFX, on the side, since I graduated from high school in 2003. It was frustrating because I had very little time to market the business between work and school. I would often have to work 10- to 14-hour days between work, school, and marketing in order to make any business progress.

I was thinking about the steps necessary before I was able to quit my day-job at Apple and focus soley on my personal enterprises. Here are 5 steps I took to become self-employed:

1. Write out a clear plan for your life after you quit your day-job. There are many ways people can earn money on their own and many ways that they can spend their time when they are making their own schedule. It is absolutely mandatory, however, that you have a set-in-stone plan for how you are going to spend your time daily and what your 3-, 6-, and 12-month goals are.

2. Create some short-term security. Ideally, you should save up to 6 months of living expenses. When you first quit your day-job and start working full-time for yourself, you are no longer able to depend upon a regular pay-check. You may get paid one month and little the next. This is why it’s important to have a healthy savings in case the money isn’t there one month.

3. Become super committed. You must be prepared for the fact that the first few months of being self-employed are not easy and are not predictable. Be prepared for short-term failure and be willing to learn from your mistakes. Several times over the past few months I have considered getting a part-time job as I have been worried about insufficient revenue from my personal ventures.

4. Focus your energies. When a person becomes free to make their own schedule, he often becomes lazy. Traditional jobs provide a solid daily structure to many people – they know when they have to wake up, leave for work, eat lunch, etc. When that structure is taken out of the daily regiment, chaos may ensue. This is where your game-plan comes into play. Resist the urge to get comfortable and realize that being self-employed is often much more work than a traditional job.

5. Realize you are not going to become successful overnight. The rewards of self-employment are much higher, but so are the risks. It has taken me 3 months to see some financial benefits of self-employment. Persistent networking enabled me to secure 7 new clients this month.

As I stated earlier, self-employment is definitely not for everyone – some people simply prefer the predictability and security provided by a nine-to-five job. Others, such as myself, would rather set their own schedule and take the risky plunge into self-employment.

Do The Pros Outweigh the Cons?

In my experience, the pros of self-employment absolutely outweigh the cons. Self-employment has many benefits, including setting your own schedule and (generally) higher pay than working for a company. However, it may take a while to see the perks. In my first few months of being my own boss, I feared that I would spend a great deal of time networking and marketing and see very limited returns. It has only been in the past month that I have started to see the benefits of self-employment. Being completely in control of my success is a great feeling and it has motivated me to work even harder to achieve my long-term goals.

All Aboard the MyBlogLog Express

Link trains have proven to be a great way to increase traffic, backlinks, and Alexa and Technorati ranking. Since Gary Lee’s Technorati Fave Linktrain, I have managed to crack into the Top 100 Favorited Blogs on Technorati.

This new link train aims to increase the number of community members in your MyBlogLog community with the hope of having your blog’s community appear under the “Hot Communities” section of MyBlogLog.

Even though MyBlogLog is an interesting service, I still think it could be developed to make it more useful. Hopefully Yahoo does something cool with it, but it seems the trend nowadays among the search giants is to scoop up Internet properties and just sit on them.

By the way, anyone looking for any sweet MyBlogLog “Join My Community” badges for their blog, check out the badges I made.

Join My Community!

Here are the rules:

1) Write a short introduction about how you found this list and include a link back to that blog.

2) COPY the rules and ENTIRE list below and post it on your blog.

3) Take “My New Community Members” and move them into the “The Original Community Members” list.

4) Find 3 new blogs, join their MyBlogLog Community and add them to the “My New Community Members” section. Remember to also add the “Join the Community” link next to your new blogs. ( Example: )

5) Join as a member to each Community listed here by clicking on “Join the Community”. The goal is that all of the new Members listed will join your community, and you should do the same!

***Start Copying Here***

My New Community Members
Ryan J. ParkerJoin the Community
Josh BuckleyJoin the Community
The Paper BullJoin the Community

The Original Community Members

cameronspeaks.comJoin The Community
janemayblogsJoin The Community
Steve PavlinaJoin The Community
WriteToRight.ComJoin the Community
TagsKitchen.comJoin The Community
LifeLearningToday.comJoin The Community
CourtneyTuttle.ComJoin the Community
SmartWealthyRich.comJoin the Community
BloggerLounge.netJoin the Community
The Thinking BlogJoin the Community
Blogging For BillsJoin the Community
Randa Clay DesignJoin the Community
2PerfectJoin the Community
PureBloggingJoin the Community
DietrifficJoin the Community
Shawn KnightJoin the Community
Reformat ThisJoin the Community
Kelly ChoJoin the Community
Ms. DanielleJoin the Community
The Man of SilverJoin the Community
Nate WhitehillJoin the Community
Leo ChiangJoin the Community
Garry ConnJoin the Community
SamanathonJoin the Community
Mr. Gary LeeJoin the Community
Feats of a Chilean Dot Com EntrepreneurJoin the Community
Jon LeeJoin the Community
Everyday WeekenderJoin the Community
Bryan’s RantsJoin the Community

***End Copying Here***