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., GoArticles.com, Ezine Articles, ArticleCity.com)
- 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.
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.