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…

2 thoughts 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 =)

  2. trafficfeed

    Every­thing is good in mod­er­a­tion. Google got very sofisti­cated. Com­put­ing power is there to be able to, and brain power and brain storm­ing is not in short­age there. Right now google is able to ana­lyze rel­e­vancy on so many lev­els that it didn’t do before and com­pare results.


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