SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMAZATION: keywords and competitive research

The longer we work in the world that is now called digital marketing, brilliantly obvious that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In spite the of all the jokes that about not believing what you read on the internet, the truth is that the large portion of digital information people find and use online is trustworthy. This also means that search engines like Google, yahoo and Bing are doing a good job by delivering trustworthy, relevant results when people search for information.

What is SEO?

It is the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial or natural search result search engines. Search engines only aim to provide users with the most relevant answers or information. Every time you use them, their algorithms choose pages that are the most relevant to your query. And then, rank them, displaying the most authoritative or popular ones first.


Keywords are how the search engines know what you’re all about and who they should send to your blog. Choosing the right keywords is critical to any SEO strategy. This has been the case over many years and will never change.

Keyword research is a fascinating topic and can potentially be very complicated, especially for large website projects. However, you can distill the core elements of good keyword research into the following categories:

Evaluating Keywords

The first priority is evaluating keywords. A few of the factors to take into consideration include:

Activity Levels

It’s always interesting to see the differences between what a customer thinks are busy keywords and which are not. Another good tip is to look for phrases that searchers actually use as opposed to industry terms. For example: “pest management” is an industry term which is searched considerably less than “pest control.”


Tools like Google Insights show trends over time for a given topic. This can be incredibly helpful to make sure you’re not pursuing an area of diminishing interest and missing out on breakout opportunities.

Commercial Intent

We look for modifiers that are commercially viable rather than research related. For instance, “pest control” is a less commercially valuable phrase than “pest control companies” for obvious reasons.

Identify Long tail Phrases

In almost every research project, we find that shorter phrases hold more search traffic than longer ones. Consider the case of legal professionals. The phrase “lawyer” shows high search volume and might show a variety of results in local markets. However, a phrase such as “collaborative divorce attorney” indicates an entirely different type of search intent. These long tail phrases, while not as busy, are incredibly important to identify.

Once you’ve created your list of targeted keywords, the next step is to build a strategy to pursue them. More on that in the next section

Competitor Review

Almost everyone agrees that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and you can certainly learn a lot from studying and imitating those who are ahead of you in search results


Typically speaking, we perform a competitive analysis on three to five of the top websites for a given search result in order to better understand:

  • What keywords they are using
  • The type of content strategy they are employing
  • What types of sites link to them
  • How are they utilizing social media (if at all)?
  • Use of paid search advertising

By gathering this type of information, you can get a clear picture of the effort required to match or overtake your competitors.s

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