Targeting Keywords versus Targeting Traffic

In the olden days of SEO it was all about targeting the “right keywords”. You wanted to rank for [blue widgets] you put blue widgets in the right spots, your title tags, your meta tags, you looked for a density of x%, you put your keywords in bold and italics and things were golden. While things have gotten tougher it’s still possible to succeed with this approach. However the folks who are looking forward aren’t just targeting the right keywords, instead they are setting their sights on traffic …

What do people mean when they say target traffic instead of keywords? Well it means something a little different to everyone, but for me it means picking sectors that have a high search volume. A topic with a lot of searches will have not only a fat head, but a fatter body and longer tail, if you know what I mean. To better illustrate my point I’m going to show you what I mean with actual keywords.

If you’ve been playing the game for any length of time and as long as your hat isn’t alabaster in disposition,chances are you’ve got a few pages on mesothelioma somewhere in your portfolio. It’s OK to admit it, many of us do, it’s hard to ignore the call of keywords paying $20, $30, $40 dollars or more, it just seems like easy money, a dozen clicks a day and you could sip martini’s poolside without a care in the world. However lots of other people had the same idea in fact in Google right now there are 21,000,000 pages for [mesothelioma]. Sure some of you say well how many people are actually trying to rank for that phrase? Looking at [allintitle:mesothelioma] we see 930,000, to make the math easy let’s say you’re competing against roughly a million other pages. However how many people are actually searching for that phrase, according to Yahoo there were 240,000 searches in June of 2006.

meso

Now I suspect many of those aren’t real people, looking at the recently spilled AOL data we see 51 searches from the 500,000 random searches. While you could make the argument that the AOL data is a random section of data, and the users may not be a technically savvy as many internet users (to which I would agree), having looked at a lot of the data I think it’s a really good picture of what ‘joe user’ is searching for.

So if I’m going to tell you what I don’t think you should be targeting what do I think you should be targeting? I think you should target phrases that regular users actually do search for. Want an example try [spiderman]. Spiderman has 28,000,000 pages which is more than the 21,000,000 of mesothelioma so where’s the logic in that, patience grasshopper. Looking at the [allintitle:spiderman] we see 666,000 pages so less people are actively targeting the phrase spiderman. Looking at Yahoo we see 355,000 searches for spiderman, which is more than mesothelioma again. Less competition and more traffic that’s a good thing.

spiderman

Using the AOL data we see 291 searches for [spiderman] almost 6 times the number of mesothelioma. Yea, yea but I mean aren’t the AOL users dumb as rocks why would we want that traffic (he says satirically with a rhetorical tone)? Let’s look at Google trends … hmm more traffic again !
gtrends

Ok how many videos are on You tube for [spiderman] over 3000 how many for [mesothelioma] 1 yep one. Ok how about myspace [mesothelioma] has 310 pages while [spiderman] has 169,000. Using del.icio.us [spiderman] has more actual real people bookmarking more pages than the SEO with multiple delicious accounts bookmarking their own [mesothelioma] pages.

Now about this time somebody is thinking to themselves sure but spiderman isn’t $20 keyword, in fact it’s probably under $1.00, and I’d probably agree with you. Here’s the thing, competing in a cutthroat space like mesothelioma means you’re going up against the big guns. There’s going to be a lot more “dirty tricks”, backstabbing, and spam narcing in that space compared to spiderman. If you’ve got the big guns and can handle the heavy damage from that level of competition go for it, me I’d much rather spend less time going up against lighter competition. So while you’re out fighting for one spot in mesothelioma I’ll already have my spiderman, batman, and superman pages going at full speed getting traffic. Once you’ve got enough “spidermans” pulling in the bucks you have the luxury of deciding is it worth going after the big bucks or not.

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