Now that you have narrowed down your list to actively searched, targeted phrases, you now need to start looking at the search results returned for each of the remaining keywords. This will tell you what site’s you might be going up against for top search positions.
As you perform these searches you want to take note of who’s ranking in the top positions. Are these sites your direct competition? Are they informational sites? Are they government sites? These are all things you need to analyze before deciding to keep or reject a keyword phrase beyond this point.
If you find your direct competition in the search results for any keyword query, then you’ll probably want to keep that phrase on your list. If the sites in the top positions are all non-commercial sites, non-competing sites, or government sites, then you should consider dropping that phrase. It’s likely the search engines view that phrase as being relevant for something other than what you were thinking, in which case it’s possibly not a good keyword phrase to keep. Before you go removing it, however, you’ll want to make a few extra considerations.
Just because no direct competitors appear does not mean that this keyword will not produce targeted traffic. Do a little research and be sure that the phrase is not a shared term with another industry. If it’s a shared term and the search engines feel that the other industry is more relevant for that query than yours, then remove it from your list and move on.
If it’s not a shared phrase, and the results are dominated by non-profit or government sites, you’ll want to consider carefully whether you want to go for these top positions. Sites such as these are often considered topical “authorities” making it that much more difficult to displace them in the search results.
This post is part of a continuing series on the topic of:
Optimizing for Maximum Search Engine Performance
Sub-Topic: Research Your Targeted Keywords.