Great web design makes an immediate first impression, but it’s your content that grabs attention.
And you literally have seconds to make an impact, or they will head right back to their search results. So how do you convince prospects that your site is worthy of their valuable time? You make a connection – quickly.
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At the very foundation of all SEO is your selection of words and phrases to target. Keyword research is vital in determining the ideal terms to try to rank on which will expose your site to the people looking for your specific product or service.
No matter how well your website ranks in search engines, if it’s not targetting the correct terms for your business – it won’t do much for you, and if you’re using pay per click advertising – it can cost you big!
There are massively varying degrees of keyword research, from simply looking at what your competition is targeting, to analyzing piles of data and hundreds of thousands of search queries to find exactly what is being searched, and by who (basically, the type of keyword research we do here at Top Draw).
The more time you spend on keyword research, and the more robust your data is, the more confident you can be in your optimization efforts. You also increase the chance of finding opportunities your competitors have neglected, which is a win waiting to happen. But every search campaign has to start somewhere, and before you invest hundreds of hours, or thousands of dollars, into your keyword research I recommend the following simple process.
Entry-level Keyword Research
1. Choose 5-10 words or phrases you think describe your business or website.
2. Visit the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
This tool uses data from Google’s ad network to determine search frequency and competition, providing a general assessment for term popularity and existing competitors.
Another useful Google-based tool you can use is Google Trends. Trends will help you to guage the value of one phrase over another. This is especially useful for isolating search volumes from specific locations.
3. Plug in your selected phrases, one per line, to the “word or phrase” box.
If your terms are not directly related to eachother, it may make more sense to separate these and perform additional searches (Ex. pots, pans & cookware might go together where pots, spatulas & cooking oil might be separate). Also consider – using specifications like cities and countries.
4. Enter the captcha words and press Search.
You will be served with several variations of your terms which can be sorted by clicking Global or Local monthly searches.
Keep an eye out for the variants on how you refer to your products/services, often the people searching use very different, and often surprising ways of looking for things!
5. Review your results.
When you see a highly searched term (though perhaps not the highest searched, if you’re in a competitive market), do a search for that exact term in Google to take a look at what you’re up against!
Visit the 1st and 2nd result in the SERP and then maybe the 5th and 10th, getting a good sample of the sites that rank for the term on the first page.
6. Check your competition.
Assessing competition is rather complex. For our purposes we are going to use Page Rank, but it is very important to note that Page Rank doesn’t even come into consideration at pro-level SEO. Use of it here is purely for dirt-simple do-it-yourself purposes!
I repeat; do not interpret PR as something to aim for. This is only for new users to get a very rudimentary analysis.
I repeat… Ok, I won’t. I think you get the point.
Page rank is a very rough estimate of how strong a given page is in Google’s eyes, giving a score to each page out of 10 (10 being the highest). It’s by no means a reliable metric, but if two pages target the same term, and one has a PR of 6 and he other a PR of 2, the former is likely to win the higher ranking.
A few ways of checking PR for a page are by installing an SEO plugin in your web browser (I like SEO Site Tools for Chrome), or by simply visiting an online PR checker.
Keep in mind, these tools provide you with rough estimates only, and PR is not nearly the only factor considered in the rankings. The purpose of this step is simply to get a quick lay of the land.
7. Rinse and repeat!
After going through these steps a few times, you will begin to see a general but useful overview of the highest searched terms and the level of competition if you choose to target them.
The goal is to assess what terms, of those most relevant to you, have the largest volume of people searching for them – with the least amount of competition in the rankings. If you find pages with very low page rank on the first page for a highly searched and relevant term, great! You may very well be able to simply create a page targeting that term (by using it in the copy and using it in the title tag) and get good rankings for that page within a few weeks, even days!
So that’s keyword research?
This process is not a substitute for serious data mining and keyword research, but it is a quick and easy way to get the basic scoop and evaluate the search landscape for your business. It should be sufficient to at least get a few ideas for phrases you hadn’t considered and to potentially reveal some low hanging fruit!
If you’d like to perform significantly more in-depth keyword research, drop us a line! We can take a look at all the search queries performed in the last year surrounding your market and show you hundreds, or even thousands, of the phrases people are using to seek out your products or services online right now!
Thanks for reading!
- Nick Pierno, Top Draw Search Analyst – Follow me on Twitter: @nickpierno
Imagine having only a few moments to grab your belongings before running out of your home for the last time. The last time you would ever see the painting that hung over the sofa again. The last time you would see the handwritten dates and names on the wall that you have been using as a growth chart for your children again.
I couldn’t and would never want to imagine this.
The hard truth is this is exactly what happened to the people living in Slave Lake, Alberta.
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Criticism is a powerful tool. When wielded properly, it can result in greatness. However, with great power comes great responsibility.
Recently at Top Draw, we had the privilege of presenting an online concept to a client who just “got it”. Were they bouncing off the walls with ecstasy? Not entirely. While the ideas were preliminary, the client was compelled enough to engage in meaningful and critical dialogue.
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Dragon’s Den has become a worldwide phenomenon. In countries around the globe, entrepreneurs and investors pitch their business ideas to wealthy “Dragons” in an attempt to secure investment money. The Canadian version of this show has combined fantastic chemistry with raw reality to become a runaway hit.
But who is most loved by the masses? Is it Arlene Dickinson, the marketing diva from Calgary? Jim Treliving, the ex-cop Boston Pizza magnate? Robert Herjavec, the rags to riches internet security millionaire? W. Brett Wilson, former investment banker turned philanthropist? Or is it Kevin O’Leary, self-professed “speaker of truth” mutual fund company owner?
To settle this dustup, Top Draw ran keyword frequency research to uncover which Dragon was searched most often by Canadians over the last year. Are you surprised by the results?
After adding up different spellings and name permutations, Brett Wilson came in with a huge lead, while Kevin O’Leary ranked dead last. Looks like a case of the good-guy finishing first! Who’s your favorite Dragon?
Note: this is involves a product under development, and as such, some of the features used or mentioned in this blog post will change.
With new features in the next version of the Google Analytics interface, reporting on SEO results, and ability to further analyze on the results is improving rapidly. The dashboard interface, which can be used to provide quick views into important metrics, has recently received some upgrades to filtering that enables much more insightful reporting. Using widgets within the Google Analytics interface, you can create customized dashboards that report on groups of information.
Let’s look at 1 common SEO reporting problem: separating out branded vs non-branded organic traffic. Most brands have a certain amount of traffic coming in for their own brand names and unless you’ve got a very generic brand name, this traffic should be a sure win. To see how your SEO is performing, you usually want to remove this branded traffic from the equation.
- Select the “Add a widget” link.
- Pick what kind of widget you want. For SEO, I prefer seeing a timeline of organic traffic. If you’ve got enough goal completions happening, you may also want to add “Total Goal Completions” as a secondary metric to compare and contrast with traffic.
- Finally, choose “don’t show” on keywords that match your brand name. If you use the regexp option, you can put the pipe | symbol between brand names to select multiple keywords to remove. Add brand names, misspellings of brand names, product names, and other key words.
This upgraded dashboard that Google has introduced is very slick and I’ve already used it to create some very cool reports. I’ve created dashboards to monitor specific campaign initiatives, social media results, SEO, PPC, and more. With a little bit of knowledge on what Google Analytics calls the different variables, I’ve found it very intuitive to create high visibility masterpieces of insight, adding clarity to viewing the inner workings of our website. I’d highly encourage you to try it out today.
When I first started working in the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & was asked, “what do you do for a living?” I always responded with “I’m an SEO Analyst.” The reaction I received was normally a blank confused stare or something like “what is that?” or “uhmm ok, I have no idea what that is.” I would always have to launch into a long spiel explaining what SEO stands for, what it is, & sometimes it got really awkward and even more confusing. So I figured, maybe if I changed my answer people wouldn’t be so confused. Instead of replying “I’m an SEO Analyst” I’d reply “I work in Online Marketing.” Boy was I wrong! I’d still get confused replies & often people would respond with the classic “ohhhh you are the ones who make pop up ads and put them all over the internet, right?”
It seemed that no matter how I explained what my job was, I still got blank stares or confused questions. It got me thinking about the responses my co-workers received when describing that they work in SEO. Here are some of their answers.
1. SEO is when you pay Google to rank your website higher, right?
Only if you are talking about Search Engine Marketing (SEM) which can compliment SEO. SEO has nothing to do with paying Google. However Pay Per Click advertising is paying Google to post your website in the paid section of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) which falls under the SEM category, not SEO.
2. SEO is when you guarantee results, right?
No, there is no way to guarantee results. People searching from one browser downtown & someone searching on another browser signed into their Gmail account on the south side of the same city could have different results. If someone is guaranteeing you results, I’d be worried.
3. SEO is when you tweet stuff on twitter, right?
Tweeting stuff is more in the Social Media Marketing category, although Social Media campaigns do compliment SEO as well. Many SEO firms are now beginning to offer Social Media packages along with their SEO packages.
4. SEO is when you communicate with Google & ask them to rank your clients higher, right?
No, we don’t communicate with anyone at Google. There is no need to speak with anyone at Google as we can optimize anyone’s website without talking with them. However, we do keep up to date with any of Google’s Algorithm changes by reading their blogs & press releases.
5. SEO is when you put links on websites to Porn sites, right?
Not at all! We do not work in Porn! SEO has nothing to do with online porn!
6. SEO is pretty shady; it’s when you put irrelevant content hidden on your website so you rank higher, right?
Nope, not at all. That’s really unethical & Google can ban your site for practicing anything as unethical as hidden irrelevant keywords, which is the last thing we’d want. Google is really smart!
So what is SEO then you ask?
Well, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via natural and/or un-paid organic search results. SEO looks into how search engines work & what exactly people search for in search engines. Optimizing a website can involve editing its content, HTML and coding to both increase its relevance as well as promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks or inbound links.
Top Draw practices proven and strictly ethical search engine optimization methods only. In an industry laden with SEO firms that focus solely on search engine rankings, Top Draw takes great pride in going above and beyond the SERPS by offering our clients ethical search engine optimization services that produce results.
For more information on how we can help your website rank higher visit our website today!
Samantha Goettel ( Follow me on Twitter @SammyTG )
For the average searcher, popping a query into google and hitting enter is as natural as brushing our teeth. But sometimes the results aren’t what we were looking for. You know the information is out there, but there’s a bunch of noise in the way.
Don’t despair. You too can Google like a pro and add a layer of specificity to your searches with Google’s advanced search operators.
It’s very easy to use Google search operators, simply refer to this cheatsheet whenever you need a little more oomph in your searches!
Basic Search Operators
Phrase search “search term”
By putting a phrase or specific terms in quotes, you are asking Google to return only results with that literal string of words in the results. I sometimes use this when looking for a very specific question because often if I can find the question, I can find the answer as well!
Search within a specific website site.com:search term
By putting domain.com:search term in your query, you are asking Google to search within a specific website. Often these results are better than those offered by the website’s internal search. So if you can’t find something you’re looking for on a forum for example, try using Google to search the website!
Find all indexed links to specific website link:website.com
Easily see how many inbound links there are to a specific site or page. For example, to see the indexed links pointing to Top Draw, enter link:topdraw.com. Keep in mind though, Google doesn’t share all of this data for the sake of protecting it’s algorithm and to avoid gaming of it’s system, so you won’t see every single link to your site here.
Excluding terms -search -term
Sometimes results come back with unwanted noise. If you were searching for coffee, but wanted to avoid all the Starbucks references, for example, you could search coffee -starbucks.
Wildcard terms search *
Use of an asterisk requests Google to treat it as a placeholder for any unknown terms, replacing them with the best possible match. This can be very powerful for research. Try searching the * wonders of the world, naturally the first result is the 7 wonders of the world.
Exact searches +searchterm
Using the plus symbol is similar to quotes in that it provides results that exactly match your query. A general search for minivan will bring back results for mini van and vice versa, to avoid seeing these variations, use +minivan.
Advanced Search Operators
A few more operators exist that allow you to search within specific parts of websites or META data to find even more highly specified information.
Results are restricted to pages with all terms from the query contained in the anchor text (links to the page).
Results are restricted to pages with terms from the query contained in the anchor text (links to the page).
Results are restricted to pages with all terms from the query contained in the page text.
Results are restricted to pages with terms from the query contained in the page text.
Results are restricted to pages with all terms from the query contained in the page title.
Results are restricted to pages with terms from the query contained in the page title.
Results are restricted to pages with all terms from the query contained in the page address.
Results are restricted to pages with terms from the query contained in the page address.
Results are restricted to pages with terms from the query contained in Google’s cache of the page.
Provides a definition for the search term.
Provides results related to the page associated with that url.
There are more, too – but you probably don’t need them since Google does a pretty good job of recognizing these on its own. Some of these include:
All these search operators can be helpful in tailoring your search results for specific information. In addition to search operators, don’t forget you can click on the “more tools” link to the left of your Google search results pages for even more ways to refine your results and get that golden nugget of information you’re after!
- Post by Nick Pierno. Follow Nick on Twitter: @nickpierno
According to our keyword research, last year Justin Bieber was searched an estimated 5,200,000 times. Over 5 million times!
Let’s put this into perspective, that is:
That is a whole lot of searches!
The top 5 most popular annual searches around Justin Beiber are:
1) Justin Beiber: 453,270
2) Justin Bieber Shirtless: 441,752
3) Justin Bieber One Time: 201,458
4) Justin Bieber Wallpapers: 145,908
5) Bieber Fever: 134,617
Looking through keyword research for our clients here at Top Draw, we almost always come across pop culture references. More recently, the floppy haired Canadian kid Justin Bieber is invading our keyword space. In our keyword research for one client, we found the search term “Justin Bieber’s home phone number” and in research for a retailer it was “Justin Bieber in swim trunks”.
Bieber mania has taken over the world. According to Google Trends, the top regions experiencing Bieber fever are:
2) The Philippines
The US comes in at number 6 and the UK comes in at number 7.
Just for fun, here are some interesting search phrases around Justin Beiber:
1) Bieber hit by bottle – 46,574
2) Justin Bieber dead – 34,728
3) Justin Bieber haircut – 34,834
4) Justin Bieber gay – 18,198
5) Justin Bieber twitter – 17,848
6) Justin Bieber tattoo – 15,621
7) Justin Biebers phone number – 13,561
8) Who is Justin Bieber – 7,751
9) Justin Biebers real cell phone number – 6,783
10) Justin Bieber goofing – 5,512
11) Justin Bieber arrested – 3,350
12) Justin Bieber crying – 2,026
13) I hate Justin Bieber – 1,570
14) Justin Bieber armpit hair – 766
I am personally thankful that Paris Hilton has been kicked off as the top searched celebrity. Unfortunately for Beliebers, this can’t last forever. In our experience, pop culture fad Google searches last about two to three years. Who do you think the next highly searched celebrity will be?
— Jennifer Banks, Business Development Manager
Follow @JenBanksYEG on Twitter or LinkedIn
Here at Top Draw, WordPress is our CMS (Content Management System) of choice. We have enjoyed much success developing websites within this framework over the past couple of years, and our clients are grateful for the ability to manage their own sites. Here are just a few reasons why we prefer WordPress.
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