More on Specific vs. General Keywords

Question:

Thanks so much for your prompt reply. I will input keywords for the PDF files.

I do have one last question: …. I read on your site and came across you saying that it’s better to have phrases than singular words for the keywords.

This seems to contradict what I have been reading about keywords on other sites. There was no mention about phrases being more effective. And when I check my competitors’ sites which rank high on Google search results, I noticed that they all use singular words.

So I am now a bit confused as to which approach to adopt. (Well, for my PDFs, I have put in phrases after reading your site last night. ) Can you help shed some light on this? Thanks!

Cheers, K.–

Answer: In my experience (and I’ve been doing this for about 11 years now), we have found that ranking well for individual keywords is the toughest way to go. The likelihood of doing well for the term “insurance” for instance, is negligible. That keyword is already sewn up at Google by the big, tough insurance companies (Met Life et al. — you’ll be fighting against companies with huge budgets and a bazillion links to them.) So trying to do well for that singular term is going to be really difficult if not impossible at Google. But one of my clients is normally in the #3 spot at Google in the natural results for “life insurance”. As you can imagine, being in that spot makes that client a lot of money. But doing well for that two-word phrase was a tooth-and-claw affair and has not been easy.

Think about it this way, too: If you were searching for “life insurance”, would you just type in one word at Google, “insurance”? Or would you be more likely to type in “life insurance” or “life insurance agent” or “life insurance quotes comparison”?

It’s part of the concept called “the long tail’, which you can research. Typically there are more searches for the longer search terms (combined) than for the short single word, anyway. So doing well for those terms is the best thing.

Another of my clients sells art prints, and while they are not in the top 100 for “art prints”, their site is usually in the top 5 at Google for most of their thousands of individual art prints, such as “arctic fox art prints” or “elephant art prints”.

So it pays you back if you pay attention to the individual longer search terms (keyword phrases), not just the main term keyword – such as “prints”. A single word is usually too general.

Don’t forget, if you’re in a normal business, you’re not looking to gain “hits” but looking for visitors who are interested in your product or service and are willing to buy it or contact you about it at the very least. If you’re selling life insurance, you don’t want someone doing a homework project looking up “insurance” to visit your site.

Best regards,

Jere Matlock
Words in a Row
Writing, Web Design, SEO

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