Flushing Your Link Building Budget Down the Toilet?
The 2013 Keyword Strategy Cheat Sheet.

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keyword strategy crap keywords Flushing Your Link Building Budget Down the Toilet?<br>The 2013 Keyword Strategy Cheat Sheet.

Try­ing to HOTH the SERPs into sub­mis­sion with­out a solid key­word strat­egy in place is like play­ing blind­folded golf with a sledge­ham­mer. You’ll hit some­thing – not nec­es­sar­ily the ball and rarely in the right direction.

In the wake of this year’s Google updates, many of you have asked us for feed­back with your key­word strate­gies. Accord­ingly, we’ve cre­ated this resource to help you improve your swing and get that ball in the hole more frequently.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Key­word Basics

Key­word research is a nuanced skillset com­prised of equal parts art and science.

Accord­ingly, If you’re not con­fi­dent in your abil­i­ties yet, there are some fan­tas­tic resources wait­ing for your con­sump­tion. If words like ‘long­tail’ and ‘com­mer­cial intent’ don’t play a cen­tral role in your under­stand­ing of SEO, you’ll want to read these ASAP.

  • KWR101: SEO Moz Begin­ners Guide
    Cov­ers: key­word value, long­tail the­ory, com­mer­cial intent, key­word min­ing tools and methods
  • KWR201: Viper­Chill Key­word Research
    Cov­ers 101 top­ics in fur­ther depth plus advanced tools and methods.
  • Rec­om­mended KW Dis­cov­ery Tools
    Google Key­word Tool — Every SEOs Start­ing Point. Free.
    Serp IQ – Awe­some key­word dis­cov­ery, com­pe­ti­tion assess­ment, and on-site audit­ing tool. Freemium with 7-day free trial.

The Rules of Sane
Key­word Selection.

As a rule of thumb, we encour­age SEOs to go for “easy wins*” over epic con­quests. We’d rather rank an achiev­able term like “human resources man­age­ment soft­ware” in a few months than embark on multi-year quest for a dif­fused head term like “HR.”


  • You’ll rank faster,
  • With less links,
  • For terms with higher intent, yield­ing more con­ver­sions on your site (and more money in your pocket).

Con­versely, let’s con­sider the down­sides of con­quest­ing for short-tail, head terms.

  • You front-load all of your risk for an illu­sive, lottery-sized pay off in the end. By con­trast, pur­su­ing long tails allows you to steadily build traf­fic to your site, gen­er­at­ing real-time ROI, which can be rein­vested in more real-time growth. If a rank­ing will take over a year to achieve, you should expect to go through 2+ Google updates in that time. Who knows if your early efforts will even carry weight by the end?
  • Over reliance on non-diversified, short tail rank­ings is a recipe for bank­ruptcy. The nature of SEO is that all rank­ings are not per­ma­nent. You may rank at the top for 3 months or 3 years, but you should expect your reign for any 1 term to come to an end sooner or later. When that hap­pens, make sure you have diver­si­fied traf­fic sources, includ­ing a vari­ety of organic key­words you can fall back on. Dis­pro­por­tion­ate focus on short-tail terms over long-tail ones puts you in an all-or-nothing game that you’re going to lose.
  • The math just isn’t in your favor. Google key­word tool show­ing you 50,000 monthly searches for your pet term? Party! Right? Not quite. Even at posi­tion 5 for that term, with a click through rate less than 5%, your best hope is 2,500 monthly vis­its to your site. Alter­na­tively, if you pur­sue 25 terms with 2,000 monthly searches each and achieve an aver­age rank­ing of 3 for each one, you’d see 4,900 monthly vis­i­tors to your site. In short, 2,500 less tar­geted, centralized-risk vis­i­tors or 4,900 more tar­geted, diversified-risk vis­i­tors. Which would you rather have?

*Not all “easy wins” are truly easy per se, but they have a solid chance of yield­ing ROI. Con­quests, not so much.

How to Find Easy Wins

  • Use SEM­Rush (freemium) to find key­words that you’re already rank­ing for and improve those rank­ings. Push­ing your page 2 rank­ings to page 1 can be an easy, low cost way to increase valu­able organic traf­fic to your site. (Tip: While you’re in SEM Rush, spy on your com­peti­tors’ terms!) We have a video about easy key­word research here.
  • Don’t have an SEM Rush account? No prob­lem. Check your ana­lyt­ics. Key­words that haven’t been inten­tion­ally opti­mized, but already pro­duce a trickle of traf­fic are likely ripe for an easy SERP boost. (Tip: Inves­ti­gate con­ver­sion rates in addi­tion to traf­fic vol­umes to ensure that you’re invest­ing in the most worth­while terms).
  • Of course, use the Google Key­word tool. Sort by monthly searches and make sure to pay atten­tion to terms well under 5,000 searches per month. Keep in mind that low search vol­umes are not syn­ony­mous with “ease of rank­ing.” You can use tools like SEO Quake and Open Site Explorer to man­u­ally inves­ti­gate sites that are cur­rently rank­ing for your terms. Alter­na­tively, expe­dite the process with Ser­pIQ, an awe­some, stream­lined com­pet­i­tive research tool.

Now that you have a solid list of viable key­words, let’s get ready to…

WAIT! Before You Begin New Campaigns

Before you go on a link building/on-site opti­miz­ing extrav­a­ganza, there are a few things you should do before actu­ally imple­ment­ing your key­word strat­egy in 2013.

In 2012, Google declared all-out war against all types of over opti­miza­tion. If your title tags (and other on-site ele­ments) are stuffed or your anchor dis­tri­b­u­tion is weighted too heav­ily on com­mer­cial terms, you run a much higher risk of your site being penalized.

Con­duct­ing an audit of your onsite and off­site SEO is impor­tant before begin­ning any new campaigns.

First, check your ana­lyt­ics for any pre­vi­ous penal­iza­tions and try to match them to dates from Google’s update his­tory. Small dips are inevitable, but land­slides sug­gest that you should pay par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to changes intro­duced by that update.

No land­slides? Great. Pro­ceed to Go and col­lect $200. Time to check your site for over optimization.

Look closely for any­thing that could be con­sid­ered “stuff­ing.” In par­tic­u­lar, inspect for the following:

  • All title tags unique.
  • No more than 2 com­mer­cial key­words per title.
  • Nat­ural anchor text dis­tri­b­u­tion (checked via Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer – both freemium and awe­some). We rec­om­mend that naked anchors (e.g. example.com, www.example.com, http://www.example.com, etc.) make up at least 40% of your anchor pro­file. We pre­fer 50%, just to play it safe. Like­wise, if you’re not get­ting nat­ural anchors already (i.e. click here, more info, learn more, etc.) con­sider throw­ing those in as well.
  • Aim for an anchor pro­file where no term com­prises 30% or more. Yes, this includes branded and 1-word anchors. More is no longer bet­ter with anchor text optimization.
  • Addi­tion­ally, avoid stuff­ing loca­tions for multi-location busi­nesses in ways that aren’t help­ful to users.
  • Lastly, meta keyword/description stuff­ing. Stay classy. Don’t do it.

Oh crap, I’m totally over optimized.”

No wor­ries. The HOTH is par­tic­u­larly well equipped to rem­edy this (as are many other link build­ing products/services).

  • Don’t have enough naked anchors? Run cam­paigns with naked anchors until you do. Despite pop­u­lar belief, this is far from worth­less. These days Google cares just as much about the qual­ity of the link (e.g. unique­ness, rel­e­vance of con­tent, author­ity of site, etc.) as it does about the spe­cific anchors — arguably more. Plus, Google is pretty good at fig­ur­ing out what terms to rank your pages for based on the key­words in your titles, the com­mer­cial anchor texts that do link to you and your inter­nal link structure.
  • Still wor­ried that Google won’t know what to rank your pages for? Don’t be. Just build inter­nal links to your tar­get pages with desired key­word anchors. Ide­ally these should be in-content links through­out the site.

Seri­ously though. Does all this on-site stuff mat­ter? Isn’t it all about links?”

As a link build­ing com­pany, it would be too easy to say “yes, it’s all about links,” but at this point, it’s not. The on-site stuff does matter.

After detailed analy­sis of hun­dreds of HOTH cam­paigns, there is almost always some­thing wrong with on-site SEO where rank­ings have strug­gled. Accord­ingly, it’s safe to say that on-site opti­miza­tion is more impor­tant than ever.

Some addi­tional issues to consider

  • Canon­i­cal­iza­tion (Resource)
  • Dupli­cate con­tent through­out the site (Resource | Copy­scape)
  • Inter­nal linking
  • Blank pages
  • Dupli­cate titles
  • Mak­ing sure your tar­get key­words are used in titles, h1s, and else­where in content

Devel­op­ing a sound key­word strat­egy and audit­ing your site, as we’ve detailed above, can lit­er­ally be the dif­fer­ence between thou­sands of dol­lars wasted and fully real­ized ROI.

Ready. Set. HOTH.
(aka. What to do at the HOTH Order Screen)

The HOTH Order Screen e1355841921635 Flushing Your Link Building Budget Down the Toilet?<br>The 2013 Keyword Strategy Cheat Sheet.

The HOTH let’s you use up to 3 URLs with up to 5 Key­words for each order. This allows you to build a diverse anchor pro­file with plenty of nat­u­ral­ized and naked links. Click image for more info.

All steps com­pleted? Great. Now you’re ready to start sub­mit­ting orders to rank your URLs for your tar­get keywords.

With The HOTH, we let you tar­get up to 3 URLs with 5 keyphrases for each order. We want you to sub­mit a diverse set of key­words includ­ing naked and nat­u­ral­ized terms.

You can be as aggres­sive as you’d like, but we rec­om­mend sub­mit­ting 50% naked and nat­u­ral­ized terms. Like­wise, we rec­om­mend chang­ing your anchors monthly to keep your link pro­file healthy, nat­ural and diverse.

Jimmy McMillan SEO e1355842034172 Flushing Your Link Building Budget Down the Toilet?<br>The 2013 Keyword Strategy Cheat Sheet.

Ques­tions? Leave them in the com­ments and don’t for­get to sub­scribe (see red box below)!

Note: These guide­lines are good for any type of link build­ing you do. It’s just that this is our blog, so… you know…

One thought on “Flushing Your Link Building Budget Down the Toilet?
The 2013 Keyword Strategy Cheat Sheet.

  1. sohrab alborzian

    hey I just learned that I may have over opti­mized my site and I would like no anchor text key­word to be higher than 5–10%.…can you help me make this happen…I read through your tuto­ri­als but I would truly pre­fer one of the peo­ple who have more expe­ri­ence take a look at my web­site and tell me how they would do it if they were me then sign me up for the pack­age you feel is more appropriate…please get back to me asap =)


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