Q and A: Is it ok to target very specific keywords for SEO purposes?

QuestionHello Kalena

Just doing keyword research on a site [URL removed] and I have two questions:

1.  There is no option to add any text on the homepage.  The site is built on bigcommerce platform, which I can imagine quite a few sites are on this type of platform now.  To optimise it, do I just use the product pages that do allow text?

2.  The keywords I chose are all searched less than 10 times per month, but I cannot see how I can use any other keyword.  The product is obviously not a very highly searched for product, but is so specific, that I cannot use general keywords like “baby changing table”.   What do you suggest here?

thanks
Steph

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Hi Steph

You don’t make it clear whether this is a client site of yours or your own site.

1) I’m not familiar with the ecommerce platform you mention, but if this was my client, I’d be encouraging them to ditch it and start again with a more SEO-friendly ecommerce platform, or even a WordPress site with an ecommerce plugin.

Any CMS (Content Management System) that doesn’t allow you to add or edit text to pages, especially the home page, is going to restrict the ROI of a business.

If your client is unwilling to embrace recommendations to start over, you can only work with what you’ve got. So use our free SEO lessons and the advice in this blog to optimise what you can (product pages, meta tags, title tags, alt img tags, filenames etc.)

2) When it comes to keyword research, having a niche market is actually a positive thing. You’re generally not competing with a huge number of other sites, so when you target more specific keyword phrases, you have less competition from other websites trying to optimise for the same keywords. Don’t be afraid of targeting very specific keywords and phrases, provided they accurately describe the product. Sure, you may get less traffic by optimising for specific keywords, but the traffic you DO get will be highly qualified and more likely to convert.

Also think about whether you can optimise for location-based qualifying keywords. For example, does the company export their products outside New Zealand? If not, then it might make sense to target phrases like “baby change tables New Zealand”. Is their product of higher quality than other products? Then use *high quality* in your target phrases and web site text.

Ask your colleagues, family and friends how they would search for the products and add these phrases to your keyword seed list for targeting purposes. Run a short term AdWords campaign and look closely at the number of impressions each keyword you bid on receives. This will give you a more accurate estimate of how many times the keyword is searched in your target market and help you narrow down your selection.

Hope this helps!

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Q and A: Should I source backlinks from a link merchant?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’m working through the link building course at Search Engine College, but I’m a tad unsure where to source links for my website. I know I can get them from industry related websites, but think this might be a slow process. Is it therefore deemed appropriate for me to source links from a service such as linksmanagement.com? If so, can you please answer the following questions:

1. How many links should I acquire on a weekly/monthly basis?

2. Can I focus on 1 page of my website at a time when building links, or should I spread them evenly on various pages of my website say 3-4 pages at a time?

3. Should link building be an ongoing process, or can I stop when I’ve achieved the ranking I desire….and we all know what position that is! :-)

If linksmanagement.com is not a source you would recommend me to use, can you recommend another please?

Kind Regards
Alistair

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Hi Alistair

Links should be acquired organically – at a moderate pace. I recommend adding no more than five new links a week to a site. Sites that acquire large blocks of links in a short space of time are more likely to attract attention from Google’s anti-spam team.

Whatever you do, DO NOT use a link selling site such as LinksManagement to buy backlinks. Links must be earned, not bought. The selling or purchasing of backlinks is in direct violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines and could earn your site a ranking penalty or removal from Google’s index altogether.

Instead, I recommend that you use Raven Tools or another all-in-one SEO tool-kit with which to manage your link building efforts. These suites of tools generally enable you to research, find, contact and track link partners all in the one location. Raven’s link research tools in particular are brilliant for finding potential link opportunities and keeping track of who has linked to you.

We are still editing the remainder of the Link Building course, so you’ll probably find that (when published) the remaining lessons will answer your questions. But in the meantime, can I suggest that you review the Link Building lessons within the SEO101 and SEO201 courses? Also look at the recommended reading and resources for those lessons. They contain a wealth of information about link building.

Finally, take a look through my previous blog posts about link building as they should give you some inspiration about where to find new link partners.

Hope this helps!

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Q and A: Should I 301 redirect my penalized domain to a new site?

QuestionHi Kalena

If my site example.com gets penalized and de-indexed from Google (some competitor spammed my site hard), can I 301 that site to my new site with the exact same content? Would my new site get penalized too?

And what happens if my new site gets penalized from spam again… can I 301 it to another domain using the same content? I wonder if i can 301 the past two domains to my new site, passing on the link juice.

What do you think?

Sam

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Hi Sam

GREAT question and one that I thought I knew the answer to, but it prompted me to do a little more research to make sure.

My instincts told me that if you could simply recover from a penalized domain by implementing 301 redirects to a new domain, then there would be more incentive for spammers to create and burn keyword-stuffed sites as a tactic to gain short term traffic and long term links. This is not a situation I could imagine Google being comfortable with.

But at the same time, if penalized domains pass their penalties on via 301 redirects, what is stopping a competitor from 301 redirecting their penalized site to your non-penalized site as a nasty negative SEO tactic?

So, after digging into the topic, here’s what I found out:

1) We know that 301 redirects are Google’s preferred method of directing traffic between pages and sites, and for transferring link juice from an old domain to a new one. However, any page redirected from one domain to another via 301 is going to lose some PageRank.  So it follows that implementing a 301 redirect on a penalized site WILL pass on some of the link and PageRank value of the redirected site to the new site. Therefore, you should NOT implement a 301 redirect on a penalized site, because any link or PageRank-related penalties will be passed on to the new site as well.

2) If you 301 redirect more than one penalized domain to a new domain, you are probably going to pass on double the negative PageRank and link juice to your clean domain, so don’t do that either, unless you want double the drama.

3) If you are thinking of simply scraping the entire content of your penalized domain and republishing it on a new domain, think again. There is new evidence that Google can track the content that earned you the penalty in the first place and penalize it in the new location, even if you don’t use 301s or tell Google about the move via the site migration tool in Webmaster Tools.

4) If you’re concerned that a competitor might have used negative SEO tactics against you by 301 redirecting their penalized site to your non-penalized site, don’t be. Google is apparently quite good at ferreting out this particular negative SEO technique. If you’re still worried, you can use the Disavow Links tool in Webmaster Tools to instruct Google to ignore any links from the penalized site.

Hope this helps!

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Q and A: Can you please answer 3 SEO Questions?

QuestionHello Kalena

I’m a new Search Engine College student and I have 3 questions about SEO:

1) I’ve listed key phrases in a bulleted list.  One of the items listed is not a keyphrase, but does it matter to the search engines where the key phrases are, as far as their order in the list?

2)  I noticed something called “itemprop” in the meta description tag when I look at the source code of my website.  I know this is something to do with “All in One SEO” coding.  If itemprop is in the meta description, will that affect my SERPs?

3) Itemprop seems to be an issue with W3C, and the W3C Code Validator found more than 30 errors with my WordPress theme’s coding.  Could this also affect my SERPs?

4) I wrote more than 300 words for my site, and I’ve been changing words to try and improve the site’s performance over several months.  However, when I type in a key phrase I can’t locate it in Google.  Also, it seems the only way I can find it (on page 5) is when I type in the city with the key phrase.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Kind Regards

Ben

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Hi Ben

I don’t usually answer more than one question per post, but I’m feeling generous today ;-)

To answer your questions:

1) All other things being equal, keywords/phrases at the start of your tag are given slightly more relevancy weight than keywords/phrases towards the end of the tag.

2) I use the All in One SEO Pack plugin for WordPress as well and I’ve never noticed this *itemprop* you speak of. However, it appears to be attribute for embedded items in your code. It shouldn’t have any impact on things as the content of the meta description tag rarely has any influence on your page ranking in the SERPs.

3) Yes, HTML validation can have an impact on how search engines index your code, which can in turn have an impact on how well you rank. If you have used W3C to validate your code and it has found errors, I suggest you try to correct the errors as best you can.

4) SEO is a fluid exercise. You need to constantly tweak and refine your page code and content (and link profile) until your page starts to rank well. As long as you follow the advice in our Search Engine College lessons and on this blog, you should find an improvement over time.

Hope this helps.

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Q and A: Will changing my PDF document title impact my search rank?

QuestionHi Kalena

When optimizing a PDF, Adobe Acrobat allows users to choose if they want to display the document’s file name or its title in the title bar at the top of the document (File>Properties>Initial View>Windows Options).

During a recent talk about PDF creation I was asked if changing what’s displayed from the default file name to the actual document title would have an impact on search results.

My gut feeling is that it has a positive impact, but I don’t know enough about SEO to actually confirm this. Do you know?

Thanks heaps!

Cheers
Diane

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Hi Diane

Your gut is right! The way you name your PDF file can impact where it ranks in search results.

A lot of webmasters believe that PDFs can’t be indexed, but in fact, Google has been able to index PDF files since 2001. Despite the different encodings used in PDFs, Google can extract useful data from them, provided they’re not encrypted or password protected. If text is embedded as images, Google can even process the images with OCR algorithms to extract the text.

Just like other web pages, PDF files have the ability to rank highly in search results, depending on their content, if they have been optimized and also depending on the way they’re embedded and linked to from other web pages.

Google uses two main elements to determine the title shown for PDFs: the title meta-data within the file, and the anchor text of links pointing to the PDF file. You can influence the title shown in search results for your PDF document by updating both. Doing this gives the algorithms a strong signal about which title to use.

Links embedded in PDF files are treated similarly to links in HTML: they can pass PageRank and other indexing signals, and Google may follow them after crawling the PDF file.

You can pick up some more tips for optimizing PDF files in these resources:

Hope this helps.

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