SEO 2020: How To Rank #1 On Google For Competitive Keywords

SEO 2020: How To Rank #1 On Google For Competitive Keywords

In this video, I demonstrate how I was able to rank one of my clients’ sites for a quite competitive keyword, outranking many authoritative sites, even though his site is just a local website.

The keyword which I was able to rank for was a general national keyword, related to computer and since this client’s site is related to computer repair, I was able to rank his site on the first page of Google, using the concept called “Topical Relevancy”

Topical relevancy basically means what your website generally is all about. Google likes ranking sites with specific knowledge, rather than websites that are about everything, but no general theme.


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How to Layer Audiences & Keywords to Uncover Cheaper Clicks

How to Layer Audiences & Keywords to Uncover Cheaper Clicks

There are more advertisers using PPC platforms than ever before, which can drive up costs per click and make it harder for advertisers with smaller budgets to see quality results. The days of cheap clicks and cheap leads on Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads are coming to a close. For some industries, SEO is changing so rapidly and dramatically that the solution might be a new PPC strategy.

And if you’re a marketing manager or a small business owner trying to get more business for the same amount of budget as last year, you’ve got a substantial challenge. CPCs have risen year over year, making it harder to deliver those results.

CPC growth bar graph

Image via Search Engine Land.

This sounds pretty doom and gloom, but don’t worry. I’m going to share a relatively safe, targeted, cost-effective solution for growth in an increasingly competitive search marketing landscape: layering audiences and keywords.

Let’s get started.

A refresher on audiences

Audiences are, at their core, segments of traffic or users that fit specific criteria. In Google Ads, there are many types of audiences that you can use to make your targeting more effective and your campaigns more successful. Here are a few from Google:

  • Remarketing Lists: Lists of users based on traffic that meets a certain criteria on your own website (visited but didn’t arrive at a particular page, visited a combination of pages, users who arrived at a confirmation page, etc.).
  • In-Market Audiences: Users actively researching, comparing and/or shopping for goods and services of a particular type.
  • Affinity Audiences: People who match a “holistic picture of their lifestyles, passions, and habits.”
  • Detailed Demographics: Users who match a particular trait including student, homeowner, engaged, and more.
  • Similar Audiences: Lists generated based on eligible remarketing list or customer list.
  • Customer Lists: Lists of email addresses, addresses, or phone numbers from a third-party data source like a customer relationship management tool or marketing platform like Hubspot, Salesforce, or Marketo.
  • Life Events: Users who have achieved or are in the process of achieving a significant life event including marriage, engagement, recently purchased a home and others.
  • Custom Intent & Custom Affinity: Lists of audiences based on intent or likely intent, sometimes based on keywords (more on this one soon).

Each of these types of audiences serves a different purpose in a digital marketing plan, and most can be used in both search and display. Some, however, can only be used in one or the other. Regardless, all of these Google Ads audiences shed valuable light onto who exactly is visiting your website, who is (and who isn’t) converting, and oftentimes at what rate and what cost.

But not all of these audiences help you make the most out of your targeting, which brings me to my next point.

Combining audiences and keywords

You’re probably already using audiences with remarketing campaigns or observations in Google Analytics. That’s great—but you can do so much more for your account. Specifically, you can layer audiences on top of keywords for better targeting—and better results. This is an effective way to find who is both proactively searching for a particular good or service and in a higher stage of readiness to buy than someone else.

Consider this example. You, the advertiser, are an orthodontist offering services for Invisalign, the clear retainer. You only want to target 20 miles around your practice, not, say, the whole state of Massachusetts. So you go ahead and set up a campaign, assign it a budget and call it “Invisalign” and pack it full of Invisalign-related keywords: “Invisalign cost,” “Invisalign near me,” “Invisalign,” and others.

You come to find that the cost per click in this very local targeting is, on average, $10 dollars per click. That’s pretty expensive. Then, your Auction Insights reveal that you’re bidding against a whole range of advertisers. That explains why it’s so pricey.

Some include more prominent dentist office chains that have substantially more budget to spend than you, the digitally-savvy competitor orthodontist office with a dedicated marketer on staff, and a litany of dentists and orthodontists in 20 miles who are all bidding on “Invisalign” with all range of bids.

example Google ad for Invisalign

It’s a lot of competition you’re against, even though you’re spending a lot, you’re finding it hard to make an impact and get qualified individuals in the door for an appointment.

How do you get qualified business without spending more money?

The difference between bidding on, for example, “Invisalign’” and bidding on “Invisalign” in a campaign that’s only targeting dating services is subtle.

The former is leaving you open to have anyone typing in “Invisalign” and clicking your ad. It could be someone that is overtly looking for Invisalign; it could be someone with no intention of picking a provider; it could be someone that accidentally clicked your ad and everything between all of those options. The point is that you paid at least $10 for that click regardless of the user’s action.

By layering on the keyword “Invisalign” onto a campaign targeting a dating services audience, ads for that keyword are only being shown to people that are in that targeted audience.

Think of this method as a Venn diagram where audience is on one side and keywords are on the other:

dating services and invisalign Venn diagram

The intersection of the two circles is the group of users who will see your ads—a significantly reduced portion of potential users but substantially more qualified users compared to simply bidding on the keyword itself.

Why choose dating services for the audience? Why not choose something else like business services or the affinity audience home decor?

You can choose any audience with this technique. The underlying idea is who in these audience buckets, first, are most likely searching this term.

With dating services, the logic is that if someone is not too far away from hitting the dating scene, they’ll be more committed to improving their smile.

Business services, for example, could be another In-Market Audience to layer with “Invisalign” and you might see some success with. The results of this are ultimately contingent on the question: How many people in-market for business services are looking for Invisalign?

Either way, by layering keywords with audience targeting, you’ll likely reduce that pricey cost per click.

How to set up audience and keyword targeting

Here’s how to get this set up in your Google Ads account.

  1. Start a new campaign. If you’re building one campaign around one audience. It can be helpful to name the campaign the name of the audience:
new campaign view in Google Ads
  1. Ad groups and keywords can be arranged in different ways. I would stick to thinking about arrangement the same way you would with any other campaign or new ad group with a consistent theme. If your keywords, for example, are thematically consistent with Invisalign, then assemble your Invisalign-themed keywords in the Invisalign ad group. Ultimately, the significant difference between this campaign and one that’s not targeting an audience directly is the audience targeting itself.
new ad group
  1. Under the “Audiences” tab of that campaign, start exploring your options for audiences. Start with what logically makes sense. For example, if you’re a lighting fixture business, see if there’s a lighting and fixtures Audience. If you’re a travel company, see if there’s an audience—or set of audiences—that pertain to trips going and coming from a destination. Remember, your keywords are the filter here.

There are lots of searches that can go on for people in-market for dating services, but you only want the ones searching your keywords!

add targeting to new campaign
  1. Ad creation can be a little different here. After all, we’re looking to address a specific audience of people, not necessarily the entire population of possible people searching “Invisalign.” In this example, there’s a little room to tailor the ads a bit to address this specific group over, say, an audience of business professionals who might be interested in Invisalign for corporate appearance reasons. For this example, something like this would attempt to address those looking for Invisalign and shopping dating services:
Google ad example

However, it is also worth testing a more generic as well against a more tailored message. Sometimes messages that are too tailored can be off-putting and harm click-through rates. A more generic offering showcasing expertise and accolades is something to test as well:

Google ad example

Start testing with automated bidding

Now, in the last example, we established we’re only looking to show our ads to people who are both:

  1. Searching for something related to “Invisalign” and
  2. In-market for dating services

That’s a significant reduction in possible traffic right there and is a big filter set up to position you to improve the quality of your traffic. But is there more that we can do?

Yes: Try an automated bidding strategy.

Target CPA by design is aimed to filter out low-quality clicks and favor high-quality clicks that are likely to convert.

With an automated bidding strategy in place we’ve effectively filtered the filter’s filter. By filtering out the types of Invisalign-related searches that are at the intersection of keyword and Audience to now filtering those clicks down to the ones that are more likely to convert.

The result is net fewer clicks and lower costs relative to bidding on a keyword outright but in exchange higher quality clicks coming through with a higher likelihood of conversion.

Get targeting!

Trying this strategy for yourself is very simple. All you need is your Google Ads or Microsoft Ads account and a little bit of budget set aside. How much specifically is going to vary by industry. For example, “Invisalign” searches layered with a dating services audience in a 20-mile radius can be vastly cheaper per click and larger in click volume than a campaign targeting variations of “HR software” layered with business services targeting the entire U.S.

Start conservatively with a small budget regardless and don’t fret if the “Limited By Budget” flag engages while you’re testing—you want to make sure a layered keyword and audience works for you before putting too much ad spend behind it!

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Which of My Competitor's Keywords Should (& Shouldn't) I Target? - Best of Whiteboard Friday

Which of My Competitor’s Keywords Should (& Shouldn’t) I Target? – Best of Whiteboard Friday

You don’t want to try to rank for every one of your competitors’ keywords. Like most things with SEO, it’s important to be strategic and intentional with your decisions. In this fan favorite Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares his recommended process for understanding your funnel, identifying the right competitors to track, and prioritizing which of their keywords you ought to target.

Plus, don’t miss our upcoming webinar on Wednesday, March 11: Competitive Analysis for SEO: Size Up & Surpass Your Search Rivals presented by Director of Growth Marketing Kelly Cooper.

Which of my competitor's keyword should I target?

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. So this week we’re chatting about your competitors’ keywords and which of those competitive keywords you might want to actually target versus not.

Many folks use tools, like SEMrush and Ahrefs and KeywordSpy and Spyfu and Moz’s Keyword Explorer, which now has this feature too, where they look at: What are the keywords that my competitors rank for, that I may be interested in? This is actually a pretty smart way to do keyword research. Not the only way, but a smart way to do it. But the challenge comes in when you start looking at your competitors’ keywords and then realizing actually which of these should I go after and in what priority order. In the world of competitive keywords, there’s actually a little bit of a difference between classic keyword research.

So here I’ve plugged in Hammer and Heels, which is a small, online furniture store that has some cool designer furniture, and Dania Furniture, which is a competitor of theirs — they’re local in the Seattle area, but carry sort of modern, Scandinavian furniture — and, similar space. So all three of these in a similar space, and you can see sort of keywords that return that several of these, one or more of these rank for. I put together difficulty, volume, and organic click-through rate, which are some of the metrics that you’ll find. You’ll find these metrics actually in most of the tools that I just mentioned.


So when I’m looking at this list, which ones do I want to actually go after and not, and how do I choose? Well, this is the process I would recommend.

I. Try and make sure you first understand your keyword to conversion funnel.

So if you’ve got a classic sort of funnel, you have people buying down here — this is a purchase — and you have people who search for particular keywords up here, and if you understand which people you lose and which people actually make it through the buying process, that’s going to be very helpful in knowing which of these terms and phrases and which types of these terms and phrases to actually go after, because in general, when you’re prioritizing competitive keywords, you probably don’t want to be going after these keywords that send traffic but don’t turn into conversions, unless that’s actually your goal. If your goal is raw traffic only, maybe because you serve advertising or other things, or because you know that you can capture a lot of folks very well through retargeting, for example maybe Hammer and Heels says, “Hey, the biggest traffic funnel we can get because we know, with our retargeting campaigns, even if a keyword brings us someone who doesn’t convert, we can convert them later very successfully,” fine. Go ahead.

II. Choose competitors that tend to target the same audience(s).

So the people you plug in here should tend to be competitors that tend to target the same audiences. Otherwise, your relevance and your conversion get really hard. For example, I could have used West Elm, which does generally modern furniture as well, but they’re very, very broad. They target just about everyone. I could have done Ethan Allen, which is sort of a very classic, old-school furniture maker. Probably a really different audience than these three websites. I could have done IKEA, which is sort of a low market brand for everybody. Again, not kind of the match. So when you are targeting conversion heavy, assuming that these folks were going after mostly conversion focused or retargeting focused rather than raw traffic, my suggestion would be strongly to go after sites with the same audience as you.

If you’re having trouble figuring out who those people are, one suggestion is to check out a tool called SimilarWeb. It’s expensive, but very powerful. You can plug in a domain and see what other domains people are likely to visit in that same space and what has audience overlap.

III. The keyword selection process should follow some of these rules:

A. Are easiest first.

So I would go after the ones that tend to be, that I think are going to be most likely for me to be able to rank for easiest. Why do I recommend that? Because it’s tough in SEO with a lot of campaigns to get budget and buy-in unless you can show progress early. So any time you can choose the easiest ones first, you’re going to be more successful. That’s low difficulty, high odds of success, high odds that you actually have the team needed to make the content necessary to rank. I wouldn’t go after competitive brands here.

B. Are similar to keywords you target that convert well now.

So if you understand this funnel well, you can use your AdWords campaign particularly well for this. So you look at your paid keywords and which ones send you highly converting traffic, boom. If you see that lighting is really successful for our furniture brand, “Oh, well look, glass globe chandelier, that’s got some nice volume. Let’s go after that because lighting already works for us.”

Of course, you want ones that fit your existing site structure. So if you say, “Oh, we’re going to have to make a blog for this, oh we need a news section, oh we need a different type of UI or UX experience before we can successfully target the content for this keyword,” I’d push that down a little further.

C. High volume, low difficulty, high organic click-through rate, or SERP features you can reach.

So basically, when you look at difficulty, that’s telling you how hard is it for me to rank for this potential keyword. If I look in here and I see some 50 and 60s, but I actually see a good number in the 30s and 40s, I would think that glass globe chandelier, S-shaped couch, industrial home furniture, these are pretty approachable. That’s impressive stuff.

Volume, I want as high as I can get, but oftentimes high volume leads to very high difficulty.
Organic click-through rate percentage, this is essentially saying what percent of people click on the 10 blue link style, organic search results. Classic SEO will help get me there. However, if you see low numbers, like a 55% for this type of chair, you might take a look at those search results and see that a lot of images are taking up the other organic click-through, and you might say, “Hey, let’s go after image SEO as well.” So it’s not just organic click-through rate. You can also target SERP features.

D. Are brands you carry/serve, generally not competitor’s brand names.

Then last, but not least, I would urge you to go after brands when you carry and serve them, but not when you don’t. So if this Ekornes chair is something that your furniture store, that Hammers and Heels actually carries, great. But if it’s something that’s exclusive to Dania, I wouldn’t go after it. I would generally not go after competitors’ brand names or branded product names with an exception, and I actually used this site to highlight this. Industrial Home Furniture is both a branded term, because it’s the name of this website — Industrial Home Furniture is their brand — and it’s also a generic. So in those cases, I would tell you, yes, it probably makes sense to go after a category like that.

If you follow these rules, you can generally use competitive intel on keywords to build up a really nice portfolio of targetable, high potential keywords that can bring you some serious SEO returns.

Look forward to your comments and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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For more on competitor analysis, join our upcoming webinar on Wednesday March 11 at 10am PST: Competitive Analysis for SEO: Size Up & Surpass Your Search Rivals, hosted by Moz’s Director of Growth Marketing Kelly Cooper:

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How To SEO Your LinkedIn Account - 7 x Effective Ways

How To SEO Your LinkedIn Account – 7 x Effective Ways

SEO Your LinkedIn Account – Are you looking for a way to optimize your LinkedIn page for SEO? Well, here are some of the best tips to consider.

How To SEO Your LinkedIn Account - 7 x Effective Ways

How To SEO Your LinkedIn Account – 7 x Effective Ways

1.Name The Banner, Headshot And Images
Google searches rely on a lot of image search. Before you update your photo on your LinkedIn account, you should optimize it accordingly. For instance, you can add your name and primary keywords or phrases so people can use it to find your profile.If you are offering payroll services in a specific area, the tag on your photo can be ‘the best payroll service in Manhattan’. If anyone googles that phrase online, your image will come up with the search. It will take a little while for Google to index your photo so be a little patient.

2.Add Keywords And Phrases In Your Headline, Job Description And Summary
Most people only use their job title and company name in the headline. The headline, job description and summary should talk about the value you can add. Make sure they include the specific keywords for your industry.

3.Add More Information In The Skills Section
Interview coaches from Arielle Executives point out that this section was mostly created from head hunters and recruiters. They use it to find candidates who have specific skills. As a result, Google highly indexes this section. Keep the skills in the top 3 part of the list since that’s what appears before someone clicks on ‘see more’. You can also increase your endorsements by asking the coworkers and the network to endorse you.

4.Contribute To Pulse And Use The Relevant Keywords And Phrases
Pulse is the blogging platform used by LinkedIn. Google loves this section because it is part of LinkedIn. Make sure your images are labelled and add the keyword phrases.

5.Name Images And Upload Them To The Newsfeed
It might not lead people to your profile, the images can be found with a simple Google search. Tag the images with your handle, logo or name so you can always get the credit when they are used elsewhere.

6.Name Your Links In The Contact Information Section
Don’t leave the default company website option there. Rather, you can ‘choose other’ in the drop down option available then name the link with keywords and phrases.

7.Leverage The Projects And Publications Sections
When you are listing case studies, eBooks, collaborative projects, articles and white papers, you should use the relevant keywords and phrases. For instance, you can add them in the title of the project or the description to boost your exposure.

Try out these SEO tips for maximum exposure of your LinkedIn page!