Stop worrying about keywords and just create great content

The title might be a bit simplistic for some, but we’re finding that many website owners are getting too focused on a few specific keywords and missing out on mountains of traffic from related phrases.  By simply generating solid content that appeals to your user base, you’ll find yourself ranking well for keywords you hadn’t even considered.

For a real-life example, below are stats for a site that Green Mellen took over in late 2008.  Here are the total annual visitors on that site for the past few years:

2009: 23,426
2010: 26,121
2011: 38,465
2012:  55,314 (estimate; based on the first six months of the year)

Great numbers, and we’re quite happy with how things are going for them.  They’re selling a ton of properties and all is going well.  To see the full story, let’s look at how many of those visitors came from search engines each year:

2009: 11,851
2010: 14,273
2011: 21,307
2012:  26,984 (estimated)

Each year, search traffic has accounted for roughly 50% of their visitors.  Here’s where it gets really interesting though — these numbers show how many different keywords brought users to their site each year:

2009: 1,769
2010: 2,351
2011: 3,501
2012: 5,612 (estimated)

That’s the awesome thing here; instead of focusing on ranking well for a handful of keywords, they’ll be getting over 25,000 visitors from 5600 different keywords this year.  Without a huge staff behind you there’s no way you could optimize for that many keywords.  So how did they do it?  Content.

In their case there are two main things that contribute to this:

  • Products.  They sell homes, so they consistently add new homes to the site with quality write-ups, photo galleries, etc.  It might be easier to simply toss a PDF on the page, but you won’t see the same level of results.
  • Blog entries. They have well over 200 on the site already and are putting out roughly 15-20 every month.  It’s taken time to build up to that pace, but they’re seeing real results from increased blogging so it’s become a higher priority for them.  You can write a decent blog entry in about 30 minutes, so even writing 20 entries/month will only take 10 hours per month — or 1/16th of a full-time person’s job.

As a result of all of this content, Google has a ton of pages to choose from that they might present when a user performs a search.  In this case, this site has 2,010 pages in Google’s index, any of which might show up near the top of a particular search.

Tip: To find out how many pages you have in Google’s search index, just search for “site:yourdomain.com”

With all of that in mind, we certainly don’t ignore keywords completely.  We make sure that product names are presented well, their location is evident on the site, and we keep an eye on popular local trends and blog about them (new stores opening up, new schools being built, etc).

We simply hate when people focus on ranking #1 for “special widgets” when they could be ranking highly for so many related terms (“2012 widgets”, “multipurpose widgets”, etc) instead.  Produce great content that your users would find beneficial, be patient, and your results will be evident as time goes on.

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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