How to Improve Your Google Rankings
It's a classic mistake made by webmasters and bloggers daily.
Maybe this even describes you.
You set a goal to rank or improve your rank in Google only to come up short because you continually target keywords that are too competitive.
Even though search engine optimization is much more challenging than it was a few years ago, you can still amass a lot of traffic if you follow one simple strategy.
Go after long tail keywords.
Long tail keywords are typically longer (but not always), less competitive keywords that are easier to rank for.
All of my sites get more traffic from less competitive phrases than the keywords you may think I'm targeting.
The Car Buying Example
Below is a screenshot from Long Tail Pro (LTP) - a keyword research/niche finding software that sizes up the top 10 rankings for any given keyword using metrics like Domain Authority, Page Authority, Juice Page Links, Site Age, etc.
In other words, it gives you an idea for how challenging it will be to compete and rank for various phrases.
Take a look at the results for the keyword phrase buy a car.
Long Tail Pro tells me that phrase was searched 18,100 times last month.
If you're thinking of creating a website on how to buy a car you may get excited at the potential traffic if you can land a top 10 ranking for that phrase.
Looks good, right?
But let's take a look at another report. LTP also gives you some stats about the top 10 sites that rank for that phrase.
Notice the two columns I have circled: Domain Authority and PageRank.
Domain Authority represents how strong the link profile is for that site and other scores calculated by the Moz website.
So let's say a site in the top 10 ranking is about health and has a couple of links from WebMD's website. That's going to drastically impact that site's Domain Authority.
A value over 75 means the site has quite the authority and could be difficult to outrank.
PageRank is Google's internal measuring system that scores a website based solely on the quality of links pointing to the site.
Anything over 5 is very, very strong.
Also notice the number of Page Links for many of the sites ranking for the phrase buy a car. The top ranked site has over 500,000 links pointing to that page.
So this screenshot provides some insight into how competitive this phrase really is.
I'm no SEO expert, but I know enough to stay away from a term this competitive today.
Now let's narrow down the phrase a bit and use a longer tail keyword. Below is the competitive analysis for the phrase cheap used cars for sale.
Notice this phrase was only searched for 2,900 times last month.
I realize that's not as attractive as the previous keyword that received 18,000 searches, but look at the competitive analysis below...
Notice the difference in the Domain Authority and PageRank. In the first example, 71 was the lowest Domain Authority in the top 10 results.
This keyword phrase has DA values in the 20's, 30's and 40's. So these domains aren't as strong.
Also notice the PageRank of these sites is a lot lower. Results #4, 8 and 9 have PageRanks of 1 - which means they don't have very strong links pointing to the site.
The Page and Juice Links are much lower too.
So even though you won't get as much traffic if you rank in the top 10 for a certain keyword, it would still be easier to rank so the net effect is positive.
After all, who cares if a keyword has been searched for a gazillion times? If the results look too competitive you won't get traffic anyway.
So the idea is to go after less competitive keywords. If you make a habit of doing this with all your articles, that traffic will add up -- even if the phrases aren't searched for as much.
Do You Need Long Tail Pro?
No. You don't need software to do keyword research.
There are free tools out there like the Google Keyword Planner, but they don't provide the competitive analysis that Long Tail Pro does.
You can only see stats like the number of monthly searches, advertiser competition, etc.
As you can see above, Long Tail Pro provides additional information that will give you insight into how difficult it may be to rank for certain phrases based on the strength of the top 10 sites.
Whether or not you use software, I hope this article shows you how your keyword selection can make a huge difference in your Google ranking efforts.
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